Monday, August 17, 2009


It's mid August, and a long held vision of riding single track from Hayward to the Birkebeiner warming hut east of Seeley, is about to become a reality. Less than half a mile of tread remains to be dug. Two crews are working toward each other. The Golden Shovel Full of Dirt (spikes are a bad idea on a bike trail) should be tamped into place by the end of August. CAMBA's paid summer crew of 9 college and high school students, supervised by volunteer Steve Morales, have worked hard all summer pushing the trail north from Gravel Pit Rd., where the Makwa terminated at the end last summer's building season. A crew of volunteers from the Seeley area, supervised by Jeff Schmid, began working south in June. The new section of the Makwa trail will add a total of 7 to 8 miles of sweet new single track to the CAMBA system. The new trail includes a 3/4 mile loop starting and ending at the OO warming hut. The loop is signed for one way traffic only, and it intersects the two way Makwa at the southernmost point on the loop. The new loop was completed in July.

The Makwa was designed to be a great ride for all abilities. The rocks and roots have been removed to smooth the tread and enhance the flow. The climbs, descents and corners allow riders to maintain momentum. The trail has been open to riders all summer as the construction has continued, and from the positive comments the trail crews have been receiving from riders, the goal of creating an exciting, sweet ride has been achieved. The trail has been signed by volunteer John Saunders as the construction has progressed. The Makwa can be accessed at the Mosquito Brook Rd. Trailhead, the OO Trailhead, and several points between. It's a beautiful, sinuous ribbon tying the trails in the Hayward Cluster to those in the Seeley Cluster. In the Hayward Cluster, access it by vehicle on the Loop Descent Trail just south of H8, or at Gravel Pit Rd. just south of the Birkie Trail. Access it by bike at two points where it intersects the Bar Stool loop. In the Seeley Cluster, access the Makwa where it crosses the snowmobile trail south of OO. The Makwa crosses the Birkie Trail eight times as it winds through the county forest between the two trailheads, creating multiple options for riders to create their own loops.

Beginning the scouting process on snowshoes in the middle of last winter, Steve Morales and Darren Winchester took into account trail sustainability, timber type, and rideability in locating the route. It took a month of early spring hiking before they were sure the trail would meet the project goals. A .4 mile section of Birkie Trail on either side of the Birkie 28K marker will serve as a temporary piece of the Makwa until a suitable route off the Birkie can be located after the leaves drop in October. The entire 7.2 miles of trail was brushed and chainsawed by volunteers as the digging began in May. The loop at OO and the first mile to the south was dug by a mini-excavator operator CAMBA hired, then was finished by hand. Volunteer Butch Grainger used a CAMBA rented excavator to dig about 3 miles north from Gravel Pit Rd. This section was also finished by hand. The roughly 3 miles of trail between was dug and finished entirely by hand by the CAMBA crews.

The addition of the Makwa to the single track already built in the Hayward Cluster brings the total distance of trails to well over 20 miles. The Makwa alone will total almost 13 miles, making it one of, if not the longest continuous piece of point to point single track in the Midwest.

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