Hospital Trail 2.0 Preview – Picture Heavy! Photos by Chris Young Unique mountain biking opportunities continue to expand in the Hayward area! Let’s take a quick tour with CAMBA volunteer and New Moon founder, Steve Morales, through the latest phase of the Hospital Gateway Trail expansion… A little background first… Last summer, the Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association, “CAMBA”, developed an all-new, entry-level mountain bike trail on property owned by the Hayward Area Memorial Hospital. The overarching goal wasn’t to just have more trail, but, very specifically, to develop an entry-level, easily accessible, singletrack MTB trail. This type of trail was the obvious gap in CAMBA’s extensive trail catalog. Some “beginner” trail segments existed in the area, but these were relatively remote and even “landlocked” – requiring a drive and often riding through somewhat difficult trails to find. The Hospital Gateway Trail changed all of that for the Hayward/Cable Area – the trail is within easy riding distance, about 1 mile from downtown Hayward, eliminating the need for hauling bikes with a vehicle. Look for the trailhead in the west corner of the Essentia Health parking lot. With Phase 1 completed late last summer, riders of all ages and abilities took to the Hospital Trail. Users were treated to 1.4 miles of a true singletrack experience complete with banked turns and swoopy (yes, swoopy is a word – it means “fun trail segment”) curves, but without tough climbs and hills typical of other area trails. Public response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. The Hospital Gateway Trail was a smash success. Fast forward to spring, 2018… CAMBA trail volunteers, Steve Morales and Darren Winchester, brushed and cleared the route for Phase 2 of the Hospital Gateway Project. Trail builder, Travis Bellman, followed with a mini excavator and soil compactor quickly completing another .5 miles of brand-new, ready-to-ride trail. Lets go! The Trail: To access this new trail, follow the original singletrack from the trailhead near the Essentia Health Clinic. About 1/3 of a mile in, the new trail splits off to the left and skirts the outer perimeter of the hospital property. Stay left for the new trail! Signage coming soon. Immediately, the trail courses alternately thorough big, banked turns, and fast, rolling transitions while gradually losing elevation. Riders then cruise around a small pond teaming with frogs and turtles before heading down to the most scenic addition to the Hospital trail network. Beautifully banked turns are easy for novices, rad for experts. Everyone wins! Steve Morales and daughter Becca cruise past the pond. With most elevation used up at this point, we tour the edge of a beautiful, northern Wisconsin fen – a marshy wetland dominated by sedge grasses. A thick canopy of mature pines adds a shady, tunnel effect. This is flat terrain now, requiring little areobic effort, but subtle terrain changes and various twists and turns make this section fun and far from boring! Sit back and enjoy the ride. Much of the new trail follows lush wetlands through a tunnel of green. No bumping into trees here! Wide turns are the norm for the Hospital Trail – perfect for newer riders. We now turn to follow Smith Creek and its lush wetlands back toward the trailhead. Mostly straight and gently rolling, this segment gives riders a chance to rest before merging back with the original trail. Until more new trail opens, follow the original trail back to the start and repeat the whole loop if you wish. Beccca demonstrates how casual riders can ride low on the banked turns. Riders will quickly learn how to use the trail features to their comfort level. Rythmic, serpentine curves in the trail. In a month or so, the Phase 2 expansion will open another chunk on new singletrack, continuing where we left off alongside Smith Creek. We’re excited for this part – it will feature a scenic overlook of Indian School Lake, a fun and easy serpentine slalom around huge pine trees, and more flowy (another real trail term) trail goodness. In all, CAMBA plans on completing 2.5 miles of new singletrack this summer as part of the Hospital Gateway Project, all entry-level in design, all super fun to ride! Trails don’t just happen. Here, builder, Travis Bellman, uses a soil compactor to firm up the newly built trail bed. This yields a ready-to-ride trail! Tools of the trade. Travis’s Kubota mini-excavator is used for shaping the trail cut and plucking rocks and roots from the soil. Mini-excavators have transformed trail building with better drainage and more sustainable trails. Literally, the end of the trail, brushed out and ready for Travis and the machine. This is where you can help – with labor, CAMBA memberships, and CAMBA donations. Who is this trail for: Anyone with access to a mountain bike, fancy or otherwise, who wants to try out singletrack mountain biking. Bikers of any age and ability. Experienced bikers, too. You won’t be disappointed! Winter fat bikers. The local ski trail club, HASTA, graciously grooms the trail specifically for fat biking in the winter. All ages and abilities welcome! Photo: CAMBA How to get riding: For those not yet familiar with the trail, go to the main entrance for the hospital campus – 1.5 miles north of the intersection of Hwy 63 & 77 on Hwy 77. Access the trail from the trailhead located in the far western corner of the Essentia Health parking lot. The trailhead is immediately to the left as one enters the parking lot area. Trail maps are in development and should be available later this summer. Stop at New Moon and we can show you how to get to the trail. Riders are more than welcome to park & ride from the shop, too! We have all the trail supplies you need for a day on the trail – rental bikes, water bottles, deer fly patches…. yup, deer fly patches… stop in and we’ll explain. Hospital campus located north of Hayward on Hwy 77. Maps courtesy of Mapquest. How to get involved: CAMBA is hosting a trail work day Saturday, June 23 at 8am for brush removal ahead of the trail builder. Meet in front of Water’s Edge Assisted Living on the SE side of the hospital campus. Become A CAMBA member. Donate to CAMBA.