Skyline is a little over 15 miles; we've GPS'd the route and walked a hand wheel over the entire thing, and the GPS actually shortens the real route a good bit because of all the twists and turns. As of 9/27/2014, the trail is complete and 100% usable. However, there are still sections that require some fine tuning and maintenance.
How was Skyline built? Upper and Western Skyline was rough cut by machines with finishing by volunteer hand crews. The 2 1/2 miles of Eastern Skyline was built by a paid hand crew with finishing by volunteers.
What were the design limitations? Unlike a lot of other trails, we have had some very specific limitations as we build the Skyline Trail. We had to build within a firebreak that ranges from 20-300 feet wide. By staying within this firebreak, the Skyline Trail was able to bypass quite a few environmental considerations that new trails normally must overcome. On one side of this firebreak is the road 2N10, and on the other side is virgin forest, untouched by the large masticating machines that created the firebreak.
As such, much of the path of Skyline was chosen before we started. We can't contour along the land as much as we would like in many places, and instead are forced to travel up and down the many short, tough hills of the ridgeline. The "glass half empty" part about this is that there are often turns and switchbacks that can potentially disturb the flow of a mountain biking trail. The "glass half full" tells us that the views from the top of the ridgeline (it is called Skyline...) are incredible, and that because of this firebreak and environmental exclusions, we're actually building this trail instead of waiting for the years of paperwork that a project like this traditionally requires. For hikers, another added bonus is that we've found that this up and down landscape slows down the overall speed of a mountain bike, which greatly reduces the likelihood of user conflict. Skyline is not a fire road climb and singletrack descent; it's a cross country ride on a high mountain ridge with few sustained up or downhill grades.
This low 7%-8% grade will help in overall erosion control and aid in making most of the trail usable for riders of all fitness levels. Skyline is designed to be ridden in both directions, so that twisty turn that seems unnecessary on the downhill may be your saving grace on the return trip as it becomes an uphill climb.