My wife and I have worked on and rode both the Soquel State Demonstration Forest (Demo) Flow Trail built by the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and the Corral Flow Trail built by the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association and the Sierra Buttes Tail Stewardship.
The Corral Flow Trail opened last Saturday when a couple of kids rode through a ribbon and the Demo Flow Trail opened a few weeks ago with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
We've already heard conversations about which is the best ride. The answer is simple: Both.
They are different kinds of flow trail and very different experiences.
The Demo Flow trail is a pump track built on moderately steep terrain in a dense recently logged redwood forest. It is designed so riders never need to pedal or brake, at least in theory. Grades are moderate as the trail cuts back and forth across the fall line but it is packed with rollers and big high berm switchbacks. The dirt is good for traction and good for building trail features. The experience is a very busy ride with non-stop action that can be rolled through by a lower intermediate or lots of air for advanced riders.
The Corral Flow Trail is the reconstruction of an old fall line trail created by dirt bikers through an open pine forest. This is a good alignment for the modest slope and is a fast ride over table tops and gentle turns with low berms. Combined with the trails above the flow trail it is near the end of a 4.5 mile intermediate level descent with some advanced rock features along the way for thrills. We especially enjoyed the fast banked switchback action of Sidewinder Trail.
What is truly amazing about the Corral Flow Trail work is that the berms and table tops are made from DG - decomposed granite, AKA sand. While both trails have their experiments, building features with DG is the bigger one. Hopefully they will survive both motorized dirt bike and MTB traffic.
Access to the Demo Flow trail is a few miles of dirt logging road with some hefty climbs. Milage depends on the route but it is over 4 from the Highland Road trailhead. For the Corral Trail the climb is usually up a paved but often steep Forest Service road for either 2 or 3 miles depending on which trailhead, Corral or Connector. Of course the elevation difference between the Santa Cruz Mountains and the Sierras is significant. The trailhead for the Connector Trail, the 3 mile ascent option above the main parking area, is at 7,700'.
The current status of both trails is that they are only partially complete. The Demo Flow Trail has about 1 mile of the 4 planned miles complete. The Corral Flow Trail has less than a mile done with plans for much more. Both projects are out of money for more work now but both are also stalled because the trail leaders and land agencies, Cal Fire at the Demo and the USFS at Tahoe, need to see how the existing work survives use and weather.
It was wonderful to work on both trail crews although the only work we did on the Corral Flow Trail was renaturalization, dragging pine needs up to the edge of the tread, and only a little dirt work. Both provide a light breakfast, make your own lunch with provided fixin's, and have fun picnics / BBQ at the end of the day and local beer. Both also feature raffles and MTB swag. For swag the Demo Flow Trail wins. For BBQ the Corral Flow Tail is ahead.
Special thanks to the dedicated leaders of TAMBA, MBOSC, SBTS, the many sponsors who funded the paid trail crews, and the USFS and Cal Fire staff who worked together to jumpstart the future of MTB trails!
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