Crozet Trails Crew Connects West Hall to Western Ridge

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Crozet Trails Crew members Tom Guterbach, Eric Walter, Oscar Walter, Dan Jordan, Linda McNeil, Bob Dombrowe and Jessica Mauzy.
Crozet Trails Crew members Tom Guterbach, Eric Walter, Oscar Walter, Dan Jordan, Linda McNeil, Bob Dombrowe and Jessica Mauzy.

A handful of volunteer trail pioneers from the Crozet Trails Crew, some wearing brown T-shirts that read “Connect Crozet” and were emblazoned with a map of the town’s future trail network, explored the proposed path of a trail connecting West Hall to Western Ridge August 20. They discovered that not much work will be needed to make the route passable, and while bridges at three creek crossings would be nice, rocky fords exist at them that make the trail possible.

The group set off from the West Hall end of the trail, crossing the area now being graded for new house construction, and went east following a sewer line easement, the same corridor the trail will follow. The trail is intended to one day connect Western Ridge to Claudius Crozet Park, but the owners of three parcels that are candidates to make the final link to the park are so far not interested in granting a trail easement.

The trails crew dubbed the small creek they were walking alongside, which had very little water in it, the “arganoc” creek, a word derived from spelling Con Agra backwards. The tributary starts near Parkside Village, not far from the former frozen food plant once owned by Con Agra corporation, and eventually joins Lickinghole Creek. Volunteers used pruning shears and grass whips to clear the pathway sufficiently to open it. They plan to come back later with more tools to improve the route.

The already-dedicated trail easement along the south edge of a development called Foothill Crossing (its sedimentation pond is out of sight near the trail) wound through shady stands of tulip poplars and sycamores and every so often passed near a sewer manhole. The creek’s banks had apparently been cleared when the sewer was installed in the early 1980s. At the conjunction of two small streams, the crew came upon a stand of beech trees, one with a girth at least 10 feet around, on an area of level ground that seemed suitable for a resting place with benches. Some trees in the grove are now dead snags.

After an hour or so, on a nearly flat walk, the group reached a point opposite Western Ridge where it recognized a trail end it had previously pioneered from the east. Thus the route from Western Ridge to West Hall has been completely reconnoitered. Trails crew members said they have also explored the route of a trail from Western Ridge to Cory Farm, making a path from the northern neighborhoods to the Clover Lawn shops and the Harris Teeter supermarket conceivable.

The CTC will sponsor Crozet Trails Day October 15. The day will start with a 5k run around the Western Albemarle High School cross country trail, starting and finishing in front of Trailside Coffee, where there will be informational and vendor booths, as well as raffle ticket sales. There will likely be a one-mile fun run/walk as well, just after the 5k race.

The Pedestrian Challenge will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will take place all over Crozet. Crozet residents and guests will be invited to walk and/or bike to the participating businesses, schools, churches and other locations. At each location they will receive a raffle ticket. Tickets will be collected in several boxes around town by 2 p.m. and the raffle drawing for prizes donated by the businesses will be held later that afternoon.

“The point is to get people to realize how easy–or how hard—it is to walk the trail. And to get people to walk or ride a bike to our local businesses.” explained Jessica Mauzy, who heads the group. The raffle will raise money to improve the footpath and build bridges.

Mauzy said the CTC mailing list now numbers 175 volunteers.

West Hall/Western Ridge trails. The route the CTC explored is shown in red. Orange sections are not yet open to the public. Yellow area is under construction.
West Hall/Western Ridge trails. The route the CTC explored is shown in red. Orange sections are not yet open to the public. Yellow area is under construction.