Currently, like right now, I have a complaint, which is not a shocker, but this one might be valid.
The last time I am sure that FH was open. Dec 28th 2011
Fountainhead Regional Park Trail Conditions. What is going on out there? Seriously? When we arrived here in the NO(rthern)V(irgini)A those trails were the bane of my life. Rooty, rocky and almost always ridable, like after a rain, a day after a thunders storm, like two days after a hurricane, like three days after near record rainfall totals, like “nearly always ridable”. So Fountainhead became the go to place. Everyday, all day, except for night when the park closed. So we all stayed away at night, seemed like the right thing to do to have such decent trails near home.
Yes, it was only, still is, about eight miles of trail but one huge difference now is that the Fountainhead trails are never open. Why, one might ask. Because the MORE group (of which I am a member) and the Fountainhead Project have decided the old trails where “unsustainable” and decided to fix the problem.
Confession time: I too, thought the trails were in bad shape, I too felt as though a reroute or perhaps some type of erosion prevention needed to take place, maybe just new trails needed to be cut and made a bit more easy to maintain. Being new to the area I didn’t have a good idea of what the underlying ground was, rocks and roots, and didn’t understand that the trails were actually representative of the areas geology and trails. So after about six months I learned that Fountainhead was the way it was because that is the way it is. Learn to love it or ride Roseryville.
Back to Fountainhead Project, they have worked, and by that I mean, scratched out trails that more or less are bench cut into the sides of hills and then totally cleared of any rock, root or otherwise natural obstacle. They then call it a trail and promptly close the trail in the name of sustainability. Good for them. They can make a trail a soccer mom and her brood can ride. Good for them, they can make a trail that will be closed because it retains water after a rain as the trails aren’t cambered at all to allow for run-off. Good for them, they have built trials without any natural water breaks and that will either collect water in the dips or get washed out with large amount of rain. Good for them, they built trails NOBODY CAN USE EXCEPT FOR THE DRIEST DAYS OF SUMMER. Good for them, I want my freaking money back that I donated to the project. That would be 140 dollars. Good for them, instead of building new trails to alleviate the overuse of the old ones they destroyed the old ones and put in trails that are JUST AWFUL. No flow, no feel of what the area is about, and except for the entrance a truly awful mess of worthless trail that just collect water and even when ridden for a full season will not be able to be maintained.
Being proven wrong next fall and winter would be great but I have ridden places where trails are built for the weather conditions but these trails are built for I really don’t know what. I mean really they are just badly built and badly designed. Any constructive input made by we who ride the trail, like leave the rocks and roots to help break up the flow of water when it rains and at the bottom of the dips build a little drain for the trail so that puddles don’t form are shunned. The people building the trials, good hearts maybe, shrug and pretend they are master trial builders. I hope they are because maybe someone else will hire them away and let Fountainhead heal from the awful work that has been done.
Update: Trails at Fountainhead will never be open.
Good job “The Fountainhead Project”. I have a lot more venom to spit at these folks, but I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they are building something truly great, maybe they are doing a great job, maybe the trails will soon be as ridable as they were. Maybe soon the trails will always be open, but I should add that this winter, truly a mild winter, the trails have been closed nearly everyday because they are wet and muddy…. and they are still wet and muddy five or more days after a rain….
Update: Fountainhead trails are still closed and will remain so until it never rains again.