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  1. #1
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    Clearing Trail Tools

    What tools do you use to clear a trail?

    In the woods here it's tough work clearing dead wood and stumps (which we usually chainsaw in to mini kickers)

  2. #2
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    Depends on what needs cleared.

    For downed trees and bigger stumps, a chainsaw. For smaller woody brush, a power scythe works well. Then dig out roots with a hoe, pulaski, or something like that.

    You can get a lot done with a machete if you don't have to remove anything that needs a chainsaw.

  3. #3
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    For clearing trees/branches/brush I use a chainsaw for big stuff, folding saw for medium stuff, loppers for smaller stuff. Power scythe / hedge trimmer for dense brushy or weedy areas.

    To clear the ground usually some type of Rogue Hoe to scrape the surface, dig out stumps, bench cut, clear drains, etc.

    I can do a lot of work with my Silky folding saw and Rogue 55HX hoe.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustMtnB44 View Post
    For clearing trees/branches/brush I use a chainsaw for big stuff, folding saw for medium stuff, loppers for smaller stuff. Power scythe / hedge trimmer for dense brushy or weedy areas.

    To clear the ground usually some type of Rogue Hoe to scrape the surface, dig out stumps, bench cut, clear drains, etc.

    I can do a lot of work with my Silky folding saw and Rogue 55HX hoe.
    This right here, although I prefer a proper McLeod over a rogue hoe in most cases, unless I have to cut through a lot of roots.

  5. #5
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    Silky saws/loppers for clearing, then pick mattocks, rogue hoes, Pulaskis, McLeods for tread. It all depends on your particular environment.

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    That Rogue 55HX looks like a great multitool for the job

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    Rogue hoes are awesome for scraping drains and shaping/smoothing clay tread but rocks are murder on that awesome blade with any kind of chopping motion. A guy once took my brand new Rogue during a build day and started hacking granite rocks. Geez.

    You really need a pick axe to grub out roots, small stumps and protruding rocks if there's a lot of that to deal with.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikefaceyall View Post
    That Rogue 55HX looks like a great multitool for the job
    That's the tool they didn't make when I started making my own trail tool. I like mine better, for a lot of reasons, but in terms of function they are nearly identical. When I hand build trail I only carry one tool in each hand, and my custom tool gets one hand, a 16" Lamberton Rake gets the other hand.

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    My usual go to tools are a pick mattock, a square shovel and a rock bar. Loppers for clearing corridor and the small stuff. But we have been doing a lot of work in the high desert sage brush lately. Forest service / BLM does all chain saw work ahead of time. If we have to do some tree work a pruning saw such as Silky, or a cross cut saw are what we use.

  10. #10
    saddlemeat
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    Usually a pulaski and a sharpened zak trail shovel.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikefaceyall View Post
    That Rogue 55HX looks like a great multitool for the job
    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    That's the tool they didn't make when I started making my own trail tool. I like mine better, for a lot of reasons, but in terms of function they are nearly identical. When I hand build trail I only carry one tool in each hand, and my custom tool gets one hand, a 16" Lamberton Rake gets the other hand.
    Yeah since it's basically a large cutter mattock it's great for roughing in trail tread, scraping out drains, cutting out small stumps and roots, and chopping through small logs that are on the ground. The only thing it doesn't work well for is tamping or moving large amounts of dirt since the hoe side is not flat on top and smaller than the other Rogue hoes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Clayncedar View Post
    Rogue hoes are awesome for scraping drains and shaping/smoothing clay tread but rocks are murder on that awesome blade with any kind of chopping motion. A guy once took my brand new Rogue during a build day and started hacking granite rocks. Geez.

    You really need a pick axe to grub out roots, small stumps and protruding rocks if there's a lot of that to deal with.
    We don't have a ton of rocks around here and I agree a pick axe is needed for rock and rocks kill Rogue hoe edges. But most Rogue hoes can chop through roots and stumps just fine if kept reasonably sharp.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustMtnB44 View Post
    Yeah since it's basically a large cutter mattock it's great for roughing in trail tread, scraping out drains, cutting out small stumps and roots, and chopping through small logs that are on the ground. The only thing it doesn't work well for is tamping or moving large amounts of dirt since the hoe side is not flat on top and smaller than the other Rogue hoes.
    Right. My tool uses a hoe that's actually a tad LARGER than a standard Rogue. The downside is, some people feel like my tool is a little heavy. The upside is, it cuts well, it works very well for tamping, and you can drag dirt around with it pretty well. Also, I used a long handle on mine, so tall people don't have to constantly bend over to use it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    Right. My tool uses a hoe that's actually a tad LARGER than a standard Rogue. The downside is, some people feel like my tool is a little heavy. The upside is, it cuts well, it works very well for tamping, and you can drag dirt around with it pretty well. Also, I used a long handle on mine, so tall people don't have to constantly bend over to use it.
    Larger than a Rogue Hoe? The 80R is already 8in wide. If you need larger than that, use a McLeod maybe?

    My crew mostly work with a 80 behind the machines, but for handwork, we prefer the 70H (7in wide).
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    Larger than a Rogue Hoe? The 80R is already 8in wide. If you need larger than that, use a McLeod maybe?

    My crew mostly work with a 80 behind the machines, but for handwork, we prefer the 70H (7in wide).
    I use the 80R and don't find it unwieldy at all.

    McLeods are not popular with builders in my part of Pennsylvania. Stuff here is either soft clay and small roots that a Rogue scrapes through awesome or else big rocks and thick roots intertwined that you need a sharp pickaxe blade to deal with.

    My crew used club-bought McLeods one time and ditched them quickly as useless. I was curious whether they work better in sand, gravel, or deep pine needle organic material found elsewhere in the U.S.?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    Larger than a Rogue Hoe? The 80R is already 8in wide. If you need larger than that, use a McLeod maybe?

    My crew mostly work with a 80 behind the machines, but for handwork, we prefer the 70H (7in wide).
    Again, those are newer models I think. The old standard Rogue - back when there weren't a bunch of options - is what I say mine is wider than. Because mine are hand made, literally from old agricultural disc blades, some of which are different sizes, I'd say mine vary from 5" to 7" wide and are very much shaped like a slice of pie with a bite cut off the center. I leave the original cutting edge, because it does what it was designed to well - cuts into the ground.

    McLeods are useless in this area. All we have is rock and clay. Too much real cutting needs to be done to dig. Hence the use a 16" Lamberton as a finishing tool.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayncedar View Post
    McLeods are not popular with builders in my part of Pennsylvania. Stuff here is either soft clay and small roots that a Rogue scrapes through awesome or else big rocks and thick roots intertwined that you need a sharp pickaxe blade to deal with.

    My crew used club-bought McLeods one time and ditched them quickly as useless. I was curious whether they work better in sand, gravel, or deep pine needle organic material found elsewhere in the U.S.?
    Quote Originally Posted by Cotharyus View Post
    McLeods are useless in this area. All we have is rock and clay. Too much real cutting needs to be done to dig. Hence the use a 16" Lamberton as a finishing tool.
    I agree, I'm having trouble envisioning what types of soil McLeods work well for. Soft, sandy, dry soils maybe? I agree they are not very useful here in Western PA either. I have one and rarely use it. We use Rogue hoes 95% of the time for both building new trail and tread maintenance.

  17. #17
    saddlemeat
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    ^McLoeds work well for clearing back forest duff to expose bare soil. A heavy duty rake and hoe. That's about all they work for, without breaking.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^McLoeds work well for clearing back forest duff to expose bare soil. A heavy duty rake and hoe. That's about all they work for, without breaking.
    Makes sense.

    Where I am in SE Pennsylvania, there just a thin layer of dead leaves, a little mineral soil, and then straight to red clay that the Rogue loves.

  19. #19
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    NE trial building...

    Cutter Mattock. Heaviest one I can find. One hand.

    Fire rake or McLeod. Removes duff and weeds and brush, and builds berms. Other hand.

    Nippers in a pocket.

    Corona folding saw in side pocket. I found Silkys to be way over rated, and pricey.

    Flask of water in the other back pocket.


    Tried all sorts of Rogues, and other gadgets over many years. The setup above is the most portable, fast, efficient, effective setup I've found for our terrain.


    Chainsaw work is typically saved for a different day.

  20. #20
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    Have to see if this works - for scale, the tool half in the picture bottom left is a 16" lamberton rake. The handles on these two tools, when side by side, are actually very close in height.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/lsZegZiz...n-by=cotharyus

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayncedar View Post
    Rogue hoes are awesome for scraping drains and shaping/smoothing clay tread but rocks are murder on that awesome blade with any kind of chopping motion. A guy once took my brand new Rogue during a build day and started hacking granite rocks. Geez.

    You really need a pick axe to grub out roots, small stumps and protruding rocks if there's a lot of that to deal with.
    We worked on about a mile of trail last weekend. The forest service dropped us off at eight o'clock Saturday morning and picked us up again Sunday afternoon. We had two 8" Roque Hoes among our tools. I am thoroughly impressed with that tool in the right situation. Great for chopping sod and shaping turns.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    We worked on about a mile of trail last weekend. The forest service dropped us off at eight o'clock Saturday morning and picked us up again Sunday afternoon. We had two 8" Roque Hoes among our tools. I am thoroughly impressed with that tool in the right situation. Great for chopping sod and shaping turns.
    Agreed. Nothing cuts blocks of non-rocky ground out faster than a Rogue.

    Or perfectly shapes existing hardpack clay trailtread as needed for placing new drains, berms, etc.

  23. #23
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    Tried a Rogue hoe last week. Rogue hoe works well.
    Last edited by endo_alley; 08-19-2017 at 12:24 PM.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harryman View Post
    Silky saws/loppers for clearing, then pick mattocks, rogue hoes, Pulaskis, McLeods for tread. It all depends on your particular environment.
    We have very rocky soil, mostly limestone, with lots of trees in central texas. I use basically the same thing.

    Ill do a hedge trimmer to cut through vines and brush along with the silky big boy and mark the trail. Then I come through again with the silky and a pick mattock to bench cut, cut roots, and really open up the trail. I use the pick mattock sideways to scrape off all the loose scree. Then finally a mcleod to smooth the tread and widen it.

    I dont love the mcleod and based on the thread, might try a rogue hoe. Some people recommend sharpening the mcleod.
    Last edited by goodmojo; 08-23-2017 at 08:38 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by goodmojo View Post
    We have very rocky soil, mostly limestone, with lots of trees in central texas. I use basically the same thing.

    Ill do a hedge trimmer to cut through vines and brush along with the silky big boy and mark the trail. Then I come through again with the silky and a pick mattock to bench cut, cut roots, and really open up the trail. I use the pick mattock sideways to scrape off all the loose scree. Then finally a mcleod to smooth the tread and widen it.

    I dont live the mcleod and based on the thread, might try a rogue hoe. Some people recommend sharpening the mcleod.
    You said you have "very rocky soil" which puts that beautiful rogue blade in jeopardy unless the pick mattock is taking all the punishment in chopping out rocks and removing scree.

    Is your ultimate trail tread primarily claybased? If so, sounds like the rogue works.

    If more sandy, maybe the lighter McCleod sharpened up would work better. Here in Pennsylvania, McCleods feel almost useless.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clayncedar View Post
    You said you have "very rocky soil" which puts that beautiful rogue blade in jeopardy unless the pick mattock is taking all the punishment in chopping out rocks and removing scree.

    Is your ultimate trail tread primarily claybased? If so, sounds like the rogue works.

    If more sandy, maybe the lighter McCleod sharpened up would work better. Here in Pennsylvania, McCleods feel almost useless.
    There is no sand or clay. It is 100% rock mixed in with a little soil. Some areas have some nice dirt, but maybe about 6 inches max before hitting limestone. The pick mattock does the majority of work, then the mcleod just levels everything out.

    Even the mattock blade is often too wide, I use the pick to punch a hole and then lever rocks out. The wider blade is usually to bench cut shallower areas with less rocks. The pick always seems to be able to find the small gap between rocks.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by goodmojo View Post
    There is no sand or clay. It is 100% rock mixed in with a little soil. Some areas have some nice dirt, but maybe about 6 inches max before hitting limestone. The pick mattock does the majority of work, then the mcleod just levels everything out.

    Even the mattock blade is often too wide, I use the pick to punch a hole and then lever rocks out. The wider blade is usually to bench cut shallower areas with less rocks. The pick always seems to be able to find the small gap between rocks.
    I'd say skip using the Rogue altogether on that. Pick mattock sound like the only game in town as you already know.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    ^McLoeds work well for clearing back forest duff to expose bare soil. A heavy duty rake and hoe. That's about all they work for, without breaking.
    MA trail builder here, rogues, all good. McLeods are great for getting down to the mineral layer. The duff might be 2-6" deep. Raking and roughing out the line too. Great for packing the dirt back down as well.

  29. #29
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    Battery powered Lion Sawzall FTW
    Don't post, ride.

  30. #30
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    ^Which blade do you use to cut the stump out?
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  31. #31
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    ^^^Pruning blades on sawzalls are awesome. Its pretty amazing what those things chew through.
    I would advise not taking my advice.

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    Where I build (Vancouver Island, BC), the terrain is typically glacial till or rock with moderate to dense bush coverage (e.g. salal 3 feet deep). I build technical DH style trails and usually build solo. About a year ago I started using a Stihl HLA65 battery powered long reach hedge trimmer for corridor clearing and it has bumped up my output massively.

    With this system, I:
    1) clear all the logs/etc from the corridor;
    2) make a first pass with the hedge trimmer. This typically leaves a few 6" protruding stems and some missed bushes;
    3) rake the bush trimmings/surface organics downhill in a way that does not impede drainage;
    4) give it a second pass with the hedge trimmer;
    5) give it a second rake; typically this removes all organics in my terrain.

    Depending on the terrain under the bush, that process can be enough to result in a rideable route. Then you can get into the dirt work without worrying about spoiling your mineral soil with organics.

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    Edmonton Alberta. X inches of organic then clay. Absolutely love small machete for anything under 2". I try to choose a line that leaves all trees and use fallen stuff for berming. I use a Maddock to bench trails but i try to pick a line that needs as little work as possible.

    Small electric chainsaw for stuff i cant move or a cross saw.
    Last edited by TimWebber; 12-17-2017 at 05:46 PM. Reason: Fix

  34. #34
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    Tools of choice depend on the soil and vegetation.

    Some areas have lots of brush and saplings. If the rock content is low enough, a sharp Rogue Hoe is the most efficient tool I've found for cutting through small roots. Roots bigger than an inch in diameter usually cut faster with a Pulaski. If there are lots of rocks, the mattock side of a pick is the way to go. Cutting bigger roots with a mattock is very slow. It's usually worth the time to completely excavate around it and cut with a Pulaski.

    There are lots of rocks where I work. A steel digging bar is an essential tool, one I carry for nearly all new trail clearing. I've started carrying a 4 lb Trow and Holden Stone Buster* hammer for smoothing off tire rippers. (Lots of chert in this area, it fractures like glass.) I've also invested in a Makita rotary hammer and a set of feather and wedges. Currently I'm limited to working areas where I can wheel in a generator, but next year I will purchase a Honda EU2000 generator and a pack frame so I can work in more remote areas. This is way overkill for most trails, but I've been fighting difficult rocks for a long time and this set of tools has opened up a whole new world for me.@

    We have a thick layer of leaf compost and partially decomposed sticks. A McLeod is useful for moving this stuff. Especially in low-slope areas, getting the duff well off the trail corridor is important. Otherwise I end up fighting the pile as I cut down into the soil.

    I use a Stihl long-reach hedge trimmer to cut brush back from the new trail corridor. Establishing a wide corridor equals years of reduced cutting in the future, and makes it easier to get cuttings off the trail.

    The park I work in is heavily forested. Clearing a new corridor means chain saw work in addition to everything else. There are fallen logs everywhere. A big storm can drop as many as 50 logs on our trails.

    *https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...n+stone+buster

    @ I have two sets of problems to deal with regarding rocks. One type is the rocks in the tread that are poorly shaped for riding over, and are too large for me to pry up with a bar. The other is armoring streambed crossings. Fitting rocks together is always a challenge. I can, to a limited degree, shape rocks by cutting them. I can destroy rocks much more reliably than I can shape them though.

  35. #35
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    In all honesty, my favorite trail tools are my gas grill and an ice cooler filled with beer. I hope this doesn't make me a bad person.

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    Do you guys ever run across rocks in the way of your trail building? I am a small scale miner, mountain biker who has found a pretty cool way of breaking up rocks. I've tried several systems, and this one works best for me (so well that I am helping them promote it)- check out the Sierra Blaster.... SierraBlaster Very inexpensive system that makes big rocks small, as I have used it no less than 500 times and I am sold. Something else I use for the trail bed, is a Mantis sized rototiller (I think mine is a non-mix Honda). In forest loam, I can usually do about a quarter mile or more a day with one helper using a rake, making an 18" wide trail. I thought of it myself, as I never heard of anyone using one.... it works great. Just make sure you have the straight tines, rather than the bent ones- the bent ones dig more, than just cutting the bank. The bent tines would probably work ok for flat forest loam as you are looking to make a dirt bed.

  37. #37
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    Thanks for the info on the Sierra Blaster.

    I'm 99% sure the state Dept of Natural Resources will say no, but I'm asking about the Sierra Blaster just on the off chance...

    Looks like you still have to drill. For me, getting the generator and rotary hammer to the work site is most of the job. Feathers and wedges are not that much more effort than
    blasting.

    I use a Stihl Yard Boss mini-tiller. In loamy soil, it works well. Still have to chop brush and saplings out of the tread, but that's always the case. Loads of rocks and roots also make it less effective. The power sweeper drums move dirt much faster and easier than raking. The manufacturer recommends using it as a push sweeper, but it's much more effective in pull mode. Just remember to wear high-top boots and keep your pants leg over the tops, or you will never get all the dirt out of your shoes!

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    Actually, the drilling isn't too bad, I buy a Harbor Freight SDS drill for $19 and use one of their 600 watt generators and I can use a 2 head system all day long. It takes about a minute or two to drill the rock and shoot it. SB sells drills starting at $4 and they last a really long time. Surprisingly longer than the name brand drills..... but I swap out several bits while drilling the hole to ensure I don't get any one drill too hot. I'd be curious what the Dept of NR says, especially since it doesn't need an ATF license.

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