Recent heavy rains have caused damage to trails along the streams where much of the City’s trail system is located. These torrential flows increase erosion and expose tree roots and carve out the soil in between rocks that act as a mortar holding them in place. When combined with the strong winds that often accompany these afternoon and evening thunderstorms, the now weakened, larger, top-heavy trees are prone to toppling over. Therefore, when visiting these trails please be weather and trail-wise and head back home or to your car if you hear an approaching thunderstorm. In addition, watch out for falling trees and falling rocks. Falling trees can occur anywhere, including the two large specimens that fell on the Ruskin Freer Interpretive Loop Trail near Interpretive Marker #10–#11 & #12, so stay vigilant.
Hands off of any trees that are leaning over or drooping over the trail. You will often hear a loud BANG or snap like an explosion when a tree snaps. Always watch of the rear end or root ball of the tree as these kill more people than any other part of the tree when they break and snap back suddenly. Rock fall is restricted to the railroad cuts and the long cliff face between the Hollins Mill Tunnel and Cliff’s Edge Park; on the Blackwater Creek Trail and the two entrances to the Hollins Mill Railroad Tunnel. The exterior of the tunnel is extremely steep and rocky with a thin soil covering and trees. When the wind moves these trees back and forth like a pry bar, and then the clouds open up like a firehose to wash all the soil out between the rocks–large boulders weighing hundreds of pounds can be shifted loosed and fall 30 to 40 feet. The City just completed an inspection of the tunnel, but will be looking more closely at the areas above the tunnel entrances as soon as the site dries out. In the meantime practice caution, do not linger on the outside or under the lip of the entrance and report any loose or fallen rock.
Trail users should exercise care when accessing the trail near the work site, watch for maintenance traffic, and obey all signage.
For more information contact Andrew Reeder, Park Services