Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Algiers Pt. to Gretna levee bicycle path

The Algiers/Gretna 4.7 mile paved multi-use path.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Bay St. Louis (MS) to Waveland bike path

 Looking east from wide concrete path between S. Beach St. and Mississippi Sound connecting Waveland and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  The path is about four and one half miles long with parking at the Washington St. boat launch in Bay. St. Louis and the fishing pier in Waveland.
       It's finally October!  Already there have been a couple of weekend mornings with temperatures in the low 60s; that kind of dry, feel good air not felt since April.  Alas, as summer lingers in the South well past Columbus Day there will be more hot, sticky days in the next few weeks but at least there will be fewer of them.
       The arrival of these occasional days of clear, crisp weather are an invitation to spend some time lazily bicycling through the coastal Mississippi towns of Bay St. Louis and Waveland.  These two adjoining small beach towns fronting Mississippi Sound can be easily explored using self-propelled, two-wheel transportation.   Almost all attractions; eateries, specialty shopping and museums in the two towns are within a few miles of each other and can be accessed using narrow but quiet residential streets or by riding a 4.5 mile paved path along the beach.  Bicycling to the county's two casinos requires some cycling on two lane roads with moderate traffic.
        But it's BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike) if you want to bicycle tour in Hancock Co.  Fall is off-season so it will be hard to find a business renting bicycles there.  Heck, its hard to find a bicycle to rent there in the middle of the popular summer season.
        If you are comfortable riding with car traffic on a narrow two lane with no shoulders, check out Beach Blvd.  From one end of the road at the mouth of the Jourdan River it's 12 miles to the Silver Slipper Casino overlooking the Sound.  All along the way are a variety of marine vistas from the dunes tufted with sea oats swaying in the breezes to the wetlands alive with shore birds near the mouth of the river.  This main road also fronts Buccaneer State Park with its popular wave pool.  This is a great early Sunday morning trek.
         The Bay-Waveland Beach Trail is a 4.5 mile paved path that parallels S. Beach Blvd. One end begins at the Washington St. Pier in Bay St. Louis.  At 2.7 miles it passes the Waveland Pier and runs almost two miles past it west to a dead end.  Join S. Beach Blvd. to continue riding west.
         Take some time to get off the trail and ride up Coleman Ave. into "downtown" Waveland.  Bay St. Louis and Waveland were ground-zero for the fury of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  A storm surge nearly three stories high came in from the Gulf of Mexico and smacked into the two towns. Buildings and homes were reduced to rubble and splinters-- many well inland from the shore--especially in Waveland.  Note the large parcels of open land fronting S. Beach Blvd.  Before August 29, 2005, there were homes on those lots.
        An historic brick schoolhouse, the only building left standing on Coleman Ave. after the storm, has been restored and serves as a museum that tells the story of the storm and of the heroic effort of those living through it to rebuild the town.
        Back in Bay St. Louis, make your way from from the Washington St. pier (boat launch,  bathhouse and parking) to Depot Row on Blaize Ave. using Beach Blvd. and Union St.  Across the street from the row of restaurants and shops is the historic L & N Railroad Depot.  Built in 1928, the two story mission style depot was a busy place years ago when "The Bay" was a vacation destination for summer fun seekers from New Orleans, 60 miles to the west.  Recently restored, the white depot with the hot pink trim, is now the home to the Depot Visitor Center and the Hancock County Tourism Development Bureau.  Phone 228-463-9222 or 800-466-9848.
         At the Depot you can find the Old Town Bay St. Louis Historic Walking and Biking Tour brochure, valuable for locating other attractions in Bay St. Louis.
      Much of "This Property is Condemned," a 1966 movie based on a one-act play by Tennessee Williams, was filmed in Bay St. Louis.  (A little of the movie was also filmed in New Orleans.)   It featured a young Robert Redford and Natalie Wood in starring roles.  Ask about the many buildings seen in the film that still exist.  The Star Boarding House, featured in the film, has been restored and is now the home of the Bay St. Louis Little Theatre.
        If your ride is on a Sunday check out the Jazz Brunch at LuLu Eats, 126 Main St., 228-466-6620.  The live music packs the place on Sunday so call early to let them know you are coming.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Possum Trail resurfaced with crushed stone yet still a hazardous bicycle ride

The Possum Walk Trail, from the historic Logtown town site to NASA's Infinity Science Center, was recently resurfaced with crushed stone.  The trail attracts birding enthusiasts from around the US.  Next year visitors to the Science Center will have the option to explore the trail riding in electric trams. (Picture taken October 3, 2015)

(Note: The Roadkill Run scheduled for October 10, 2015 was cancelled.)

          In Hancock Co. MS,  the Possum Walk Trail opened over a year ago as a graded dirt trail connecting the cemetery at the historic Logtown town site with the parking lot at the NASA Infinity Science Center 3.2 miles to the northeast.  To ready the trail for electric trams that will carry Science Center tourists on nature treks on the trail in 2016, work began resurfacing the dirt trail with crushed stone in September.  By Oct. 3 the work on the trail has progressed to the point users are now allowed back on the trail, though a short stretch near the boardwalk at the Logtown end of the trail still needs to be graded and resurfaced.
           While the dirt surface was fine for walkers, runners, equestrians and the occasional golf cart, the soft dirt made riding a bicycle on the trail dicey.  Even bicycle wheels with fat tires would sink into the powdered dirt making it difficult to steer without falling.  Bicyclists had hoped the new crushed stone surface would open the trail to bicycle use by providing a harder surface to ride on.
           The new surface is worse than the dirt.  The coarsely crushed stone sits loose, like gravel, providing less traction for a bicycle tire than the dirt.  And falling on the crushed stone could be more painful than falling on the dirt.
         Not only is the new stone surface a hazard to those on two wheels, the loose stone presents a risk to those on two feet.  Hikers, walkers, and trail runners should be careful when treading the shifting stone surface.  Eventually the crushed stone will be pounded into the dirt underneath by the tires of the electric tourist trams, (and other motorized vehicles using the trail), smoothing the surface. Until then footing on the loose rock is iffy.  If planning to walk the trail, popular with birdwatchers, be sure to wear sturdy shoes offering good ankle support.
         The trams themselves could be a hazard when they are introduced next year into the mix of trail users.  A tram ride will be included with every admission to the Science Center--adults $12.  The trail is not that wide.  Trams will have to be equipped with a warning device to alert walkers who will have to move to the edge of the trail and walk single-file to allow the tram to pass. The trail may be wide enough for two trams to pass abreast but it will be a tight squeeze.  Other trail users will probably have to step off the trail to allow room.  And how often will the trams run?