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  1. #1
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    Inherited land - time to build a trail

    Now that I have some land, I'm wanting to build a trail. I have no trail building experience, but have done landscaping work and have friends who have built and maintained trails in NC.

    With that said, I inherited about 175 acres of wooded property in middle TN that I would like to put a trail network on. I'm going to build a cabin/house on the property and would love to be able to walk out of the house and hop on a bike. I have no clue where to start on planning the trail based off of the topo map I have. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Hmm, the blank slate problem....

    I'd suggest spending a considerable time on foot exploring until you can look at a topo and picture it all well in your head. Identify any areas with potential for biking fun (rocks/tech/flow), nice views, cool trees etc. Mark them on your map & GPS. With beer in hand, start what-ifing on your map. Nested loops? Beginner areas for newbies? Gravity fun? Steep climbs/descents? Leave no idea untouched.

    The IMBA manual is a good place to get basic info on trail design & building, so you don't make any horrendous mistakes, but it's your land and can do whatever.

    Don't bite off too much right off the bat, as it's a lot of work. Like anything, you'll probably do a better job on later trails as your designer skills improve, so start with an easy one.

    Sounds like fun!

  3. #3
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    Yup - go out there and prowl around a ton. Do some research, get a general idea what you want to do, then I like to head out with a ton of those little orange stake flags and mark things out, first on a kind of large scale, then once I'm happy with the general route, maybe a flag every hundred feet or something, I'll go back and fill in the details with more flags at more like 10-20 feet apart, then walk/jog and tweak it a bunch of times til it's pretty much exactly how I want it, then I buy a bunch of beer and start calling in reinforcements. Having everything pre-flagged makes it easier to get a bunch done on build days.
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  4. #4
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    Oh, how I'd love to have your dilema!!!

    Congrats on the land. Consider your self very luck. I have 25 acreas next to forest land and am constantly working it and making trails - just returned from there right now.

    First thing you want to do is get to know the land. Walk it, walk it, walk it. 175 acers is quite a bit of land and will be a great size for a small trail system.

    Somthing you can't go wrong with on a prescribed piece of land is by starting with what I can a "perimeter trail". Build a trail that borders the land on all sides. You will get use to how to build trail, and you could always make that trail a bit wider so you can run a quad on it - to haul tools and maintenance on the trail system when done. Then, once you are comfortable with building basic trail you can carve trail that cuts through your land.

    As far cabins go, that is another fun venture. This summer we just built an Adirondack style log lean-to on our land. Was just hanging out there by the fire, after some trail work.

    Good luck and repost with your progress.

  5. #5
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    Thanks for all the info. I have been up there several times and walked a good bit of it. There really seems to be some great spots for flow and to develop some progressive trails to build my skills. I spoke to a forestry consultant about clearing two separate areas (about 5 acre clearing each) to establish food plots for the wildlife management plan. I'm also going to start a timber stand improvement plan to clear out invasive species (vines, privet, etc...) and small unwanted trees, so trail building is a little easier. Hopefully the selective timber cutting will fund the improvements on the land, trail system, and house/cabin.

    My cousin actually farms up there, has tons of equipment, and helped build some of Chickasaw trails in Columbia (where my land is). I'm going to get him to walk it with me some more and get his opinion on things as well.

    How many miles of trail do y'all think I could build on the property without it being too crowded? I also have another 30 acres across the road and 200 acres about 10 minutes away, so I'd like to do several different types of trails. Maybe a flow type trail on the 30 acres, technical trail on the 175.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbrogers View Post
    Thanks for all the info. I have been up there several times and walked a good bit of it. There really seems to be some great spots for flow and to develop some progressive trails to build my skills. I spoke to a forestry consultant about clearing two separate areas (about 5 acre clearing each) to establish food plots for the wildlife management plan. I'm also going to start a timber stand improvement plan to clear out invasive species (vines, privet, etc...) and small unwanted trees, so trail building is a little easier. Hopefully the selective timber cutting will fund the improvements on the land, trail system, and house/cabin.

    My cousin actually farms up there, has tons of equipment, and helped build some of Chickasaw trails in Columbia (where my land is). I'm going to get him to walk it with me some more and get his opinion on things as well.

    How many miles of trail do y'all think I could build on the property without it being too crowded? I also have another 30 acres across the road and 200 acres about 10 minutes away, so I'd like to do several different types of trails. Maybe a flow type trail on the 30 acres, technical trail on the 175.
    I hope you know how lucky you are to have this dilemma!

    But just for reference our trail system sits on 88 acres and we squeezed in right around 5/5.5 miles. Just from how the park is set up with had to do one two way section and then had another section that has the out and return trail pretty close to each other.

    I'd imagine with 175 acres you could get 8-9 solid miles.

    Ps we are strictly xc trails.

    edit: I highly doubt those 8-9 miles would ever cross or be on top of each other.
    Last edited by Bogrider; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:42 PM. Reason: Adding info

  7. #7
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    Ah, I was getting ready to ask where you were located. Columbia - that's a ways from me. I'd offer to help, but the drive would eat into a lot of my time. Be certain to understand just how enviable your situation actually is: Several of the public trails in MidTN are built on sites that are only right at 100 acres. Even if you eat up 25 acres or so, your property is still half again as big as some of the trail system areas in and around Nashville. I'm sure the sky is pretty much the limit for what you can do there.

  8. #8
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    Be sure to walk the property in spring rainy time ( or whenever it is the wettest) Look for surface flow areas, vernal ponds( if any) and temporary streams as well as high water areas. That will help you to find areas to avoid.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for all the advice. I'll keep that in mind and I might go ahead and mark off the trail over winter and go back during spring to see what needs to be changed once it has rained a lot.

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