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  1. #1
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    Compacting Tread for Horse / Bike use

    Our group has just started building / rebuilding a new multi-use trail. Our first project was rerouting an old steep and eroded trail. The trail was built an designed correctly with help from an IMBA/DNR sustainable trail teacher, with an 8% max grade, organic layer was scraped off and tread surface was compacted with the use of McLoads.

    Inspected the trail yesterday about 2.5 days since the last rain event. Two horses had just come through and it looked like someone took a tiller to the trail, old none rerouted section was perfect could not see horse prints at all even though it was never properly built.

    Question, what can be done to prevent this damage? I assume the new trail will eventually firm up. Should bikers ride the next new sections a lot to pack them down before it is opened to all users, and don't finish the last 100' of trail so horse users can't see it? Close the new sections to all users until a drier time of the year? Should trail be compacted with something more than a McLoad?

    Please offer any suggestions.
    Please don't make this a horse debate, they came with the deal, horses on the trail or no trail at all.
    Last edited by peteuga; 01-02-2013 at 04:53 AM.

  2. #2
    Coastal Rider
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    You could rent a vibrating plate compactor and run it over the moist trail tread, than try to keep everyone off until completely dry. Itís hard to keep users off when wet but this is the only thing that works for us since we have no rock and cannot find the funds to bring any in.
    Best of luck!
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    Last edited by Chris Clutton; 01-01-2013 at 10:20 PM.

  3. #3
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    We have those issues. First is to let the new trail season for at least a year, completely unused. The second is to keep users off it when it gets too wet, not always easy.
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  4. #4
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    Keep everyone off until there's been a few wet/ dry cycles. Depending on how far in it is a compactor would help.
    There's a big difference between ripping and skidding. Those who skid don't know how to ride.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for the advice, we are trying to get a RTP grant. If we can get it I will push for the vibratory plate attachment. If that don't work I guess we will have to let the trail sit and season. It is very heart breaking to see new trail get destroyed.

  6. #6
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    Which type of compactor is best, vibratory plate or jumping jack?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peteuga View Post
    Which type of compactor is best, vibratory plate or jumping jack?
    I prefer a jumping jack but that will depend on your soil type. Jumping jacks don't work well in sandy soil but you get the best compaction with them on more loamy or clay soils.
    Plate compactors are hard to use on rough ground. A jumping jack will lift about 8" and a plate will only lift about 2"
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    Tread needs to be seasoned. Best thing is give it time to set up it's self. Rake smooth a few times as it settles some. Try to repack a few times too.

    If you do plate compact it, keep it closed for a bit after you do it. Plate compacting will bring what moisture is in the soil to the surface.

    If you rush the time it takes the tread set up you will just have to keep reworking it.
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  9. #9
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    We use a Dynapac LF60 for most trailwork, but sometime rent something bigger for multiuse trail. The LF60 gives about 2200lbs/sq-in of compaction, while a bigger machine will compact to +10,000. A landscaping compactor can be tricky to flip back and usually doesn't support even an average slope.

    Even a LF60 will require 2 men to operate in some case, so attach a rope or use a rake to pull it on loose soil / heavy slopes.

    Allow the trail to dry and season before opening to public.
    A trailbuilder from the north

  10. #10
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    Horses riders are tough. The only real solution is to make sure they have the knowledge of when its acceptable to ride without damaging the trail. Unless its solid rock, a horse will destroy a wet trail no matter how well its compacted. Try to post op signage explainging trail use and get horse riders involved in trail work to help them understand how much work it is to maintain and repair a trail after that kind of damage. The main kicker though is that it really dosn't bother the horse or rider if the trail is extremely rough. Hard to get them involved when they have no incentive.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    We use a Dynapac LF60 for most trailwork, but sometime rent something bigger for multiuse trail. The LF60 gives about 2200lbs/sq-in of compaction, while a bigger machine will compact to +10,000. A landscaping compactor can be tricky to flip back and usually doesn't support even an average slope.

    Even a LF60 will require 2 men to operate in some case, so attach a rope or use a rake to pull it on loose soil / heavy slopes.

    Allow the trail to dry and season before opening to public.
    Jerome, have you had any experience with a jumping jack type of compactor?
    I have no experience with a plate compactor.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    Jerome, have you had any experience with a jumping jack type of compactor?
    I have no experience with a plate compactor.
    Not for trailwork, only for landscaping and I didn't really liked it. A compactor plate is easy to work with, easy to move around and usually easier to come by. The working principle looks good and we'll probably try it at some point, but it seems to be a consensus among trailbuilders that a compactor plate is a better choice than a jumping jack.
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  13. #13
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    Do you get enough compaction for horses without adding anything to the soil? All my building now is in regional and provincial parks so the trails are multi-use. Horse "post holes" are a big concern when digging trails by hand. The parks departments will get me a compactor if I told them I needed one.
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  14. #14
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    I think a walk-behind compactor plate or jumping jack will never give you enough compaction to alleviate the impact of horses. You need to surface the thread (crushed stone?) and compact with something pretty heavy, like a ride-on roller.

    Have you ever seen the Dr. Marion study in regard of soil erosion by various users group? Hikers and biker have similar impact. Horses, 26x more. Motorized users, 40x.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    Not for trailwork, only for landscaping and I didn't really liked it. A compactor plate is easy to work with, easy to move around and usually easier to come by. The working principle looks good and we'll probably try it at some point, but it seems to be a consensus among trailbuilders that a compactor plate is a better choice than a jumping jack.
    A jumping jack is better for uneven terrain because the foot is smaller and it jumps higher. It does require a little finesse to operate. Typically used for back filling. A plate compactor is better if you want to produce a smooth flat surface, as it will only touch the high points if the soil isn't relatively smooth and even. It doesn't handle loose deep soil well either, such as back filling. I've seen attempts to compact a temp race course entrance with a plate compactor and it didn't do much, and in that case a jumping jack would have done a great job. I have run both for more hours than I care to remember as a building contractor dude.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    A jumping jack is better for uneven terrain because the foot is smaller and it jumps higher. It does require a little finesse to operate. Typically used for back filling. A plate compactor is better if you want to produce a smooth flat surface, as it will only touch the high points if the soil isn't relatively smooth and even. It doesn't handle loose deep soil well either, such as back filling. I've seen attempts to compact a temp race course entrance with a plate compactor and it didn't do much, and in that case a jumping jack would have done a great job. I have run both for more hours than I care to remember as a building contractor dude.
    Great reply. Thanks! I'll have to try it next summer
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic View Post
    I think a walk-behind compactor plate or jumping jack will never give you enough compaction to alleviate the impact of horses. You need to surface the thread (crushed stone?) and compact with something pretty heavy, like a ride-on roller.

    Have you ever seen the Dr. Marion study in regard of soil erosion by various users group? Hikers and biker have similar impact. Horses, 26x more. Motorized users, 40x.
    Yes, I've read it. I used it a few years back to calm a near-riot over bike use in a multi-use park where horses were allowed. Their complaint was potential trail damage by bikes... on a trail I was building.
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  18. #18
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Why not get the horses in and walk them back and forth? So long as the trail isn't muddy, hooves compact very well. This would give you a chance to work with that user group and an opportunity for them to see the work going into the trail so that they're better educated about not riding in the mud.
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  19. #19
    I build my own.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly View Post
    Why not get the horses in and walk them back and forth? So long as the trail isn't muddy, hooves compact very well. This would give you a chance to work with that user group and an opportunity for them to see the work going into the trail so that they're better educated about not riding in the mud.
    Me?
    It wasn't a problem with the horse people. I get along great with them. It was more a case of one adjacent landowner who had been using the park as her private hiking area for 10 years. When she tried to get the neighbors up in arms she had to attack the mountain biker who was building the trail. She knew if mountain bikes weren't allowed, I wouldn't build the trail. If I didn't build it, nobody would and she'd get the place all to herself again.

    I don't "use" horses to compact trails but I know how well that works. A lot of the middle school trails were horse trails and they are good and solid in what should be very muddy ground.
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  20. #20
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trail Ninja View Post
    Me?
    Nah, I meant for it be directed to the OP or just a general comment. Nobody had mention using the actual horses for compaction, so I was throwing it out there.
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  21. #21
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    Anyone have any feedback for me on a similar note? I build trails in western Oregon. Currently very wet and will be (only one real wet/dry cycle a year - wet season and dry season) til May/June. Having to use topsoil/organic soil as that is all there is reasonably. Digging to clay would be crazy. Where I am building now there is, unfortunately, not an abundance of rock (there is some though - I just can't expect to solve all my problems with armoring). So, seems seasoning is super key here. How long does a trail need to "season" for in the northwest with this type of soil? anyone? And, is it really possible to build a sustainable trail for winter riding in the northwest when one cannot rely on rock/gravel but only upon drainage features? In other words, are ladder bridges pretty much necessary for a winter trail in these conditions?

  22. #22
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    I guess it depends a lot on your soil type (clay, silt, sand, or combination), amount of rock and rainfall patterns. Also it depends on the mileage of trail and accessability. I am completely unfamiliar with mechanized compactors, which would be very unsuitable in many areas for a variety of reasons. Where I live they would be a complete joke! But hey, I'm not knocking it, it probably works someplace. If you try to compact sandy to silty soil, it will stay nice while there is moisture in the soil, but if it dries out, the horses will just tear it up again. If the soil is clay, I wonder how it would work using horses to stomp the soil when it is somewhat wet throughout, but not too gooey, then smooth it out with mcleods, run bikes on it to buff it in, maybe touch it up again with mcleods, then close it and let it dry till its hard as a brick. I read your other thread about the horses, I think it would be a good experiment.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by danielcoyle View Post
    Anyone have any feedback for me on a similar note? I build trails in western Oregon. Currently very wet and will be (only one real wet/dry cycle a year - wet season and dry season) til May/June. Having to use topsoil/organic soil as that is all there is reasonably. Digging to clay would be crazy. Where I am building now there is, unfortunately, not an abundance of rock (there is some though - I just can't expect to solve all my problems with armoring). So, seems seasoning is super key here. How long does a trail need to "season" for in the northwest with this type of soil? anyone? And, is it really possible to build a sustainable trail for winter riding in the northwest when one cannot rely on rock/gravel but only upon drainage features? In other words, are ladder bridges pretty much necessary for a winter trail in these conditions?
    Check this forum. It's the local North Shore in Vancouver BC. Very similar conditions to you.
    Trail News/Maintenance - North Shore Mountain Biking Forums
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  24. #24
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    Thanks. Should be more relevant for what I am doing. Checked it out and saw that there is a healthy amount of traffic there. have a good one.

  25. #25
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    We started clearing about a 1 mile section of trail last weekend at the very back of the trail for our test. Since it is near the end there is much less traffic on it and we can see if this works with just minimal traffic. We found a few interesting things, the horses don't pay any attention at all to ribbon and pin flags, but if you rake the leaves off the ground they will go exactly were you want them to go. The horses also have no trouble at all on 40%+ slopes. So far so good, we will see how things hold up.

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