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  1. #1
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Soil hardener for muddy clay side slope?

    I have a new section of trail with a few areas of really muddy clay that take forever to dry. The whole trail is side slope/bench cut. The problem areas almost seem to have a spring under them. I'm talking 2 inches of wet ozzing clay mud when the rest of the trail is damp, but good enough to ride.

    Paving with rock is out, I don't have much available natural rock. What little I found is now under berm turns.

    Google soil hardener and I find stuff sold in 55 gallon drums that are used to keep dust down and to stabilize the base of new asphalt road construction. Not much on curing my problem and 55 gallons of anything is too big for me to handle. Any product suggestions that I could push in with a wheel barrel a half mile or so?

    1) Should I get a couple bags of concrete mix? Would this go further than bags of gravel?

    2) Onsite, I have several large sheets of metal (its an old farm, junk here and there), coffee table size, I could pave with those, just never seen that done before and can see potential problem with the sheets slipping out of place. I could put bolts/spikes on the metal sheets to help hold them, but the spikes are just going into wet clay...

    3) I have lots wood chips on site.

    4) I'm the land manager at this location so I don't need to ask what's acceptable. Any other ideas?

  2. #2
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    Turfstone paver would be the best, sandstone cobble, or build an elevated structure over the problem area.

    Otherwise you'll have to dig it out, and put a ton of crushed rock, starting big then moving to fine, adding some clay and sand to the very top. You'll have a reinforced trail that now drains.

    There's probably no simple fix from what you describe.
    .~...|\
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  3. #3
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    temporary might be the concrete or even just some portland. not sure if the spring wouldnt reroute and cause some probs elswhere. think about maybe building a retaining wall with pea gravel and weep pipes. maybe even a few pvc pipe with gravel over and under . (gravel for the weep and pipe when its heavier) . the hardest part is that water will go the path of least resistance so keep that in mind .

  4. #4
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    Something to consider - ditch the back side of the trail to intercept the seep and drain it off in the nearest dip, with an open culvert if needed.

  5. #5
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    You can always bridge it with wood, slightly elevated and let the water be water and do what it will.

    We also do something similar with wet low spots. We build 8 foot sections of 2 x4's on 2x4's, lay the down and the planks clean the dirt off of tires, and deposits the soil in between the wood planks, fills the wet holes with new free material, lets the hole dry out and fixes the problem. When the wood slats get filled up pull up the ladder section and save them for the next problem child waiting to rear its head up!
    IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU'RE NOT RIDING (or building)!

  6. #6
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    We use old concrete and bricks in places like this. We did it all day Saturday. Seeps suck, but are a part of new trail construction. It takes a few years, but these areas will tend to dry up when the ground gets disturbed nearby and starts to seep there instead of onto your newly built trail (which isn't as newly built anymore).

  7. #7
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    Easiest and best fix.

    Get several bags of protland cement and a big steel shaft like a car axle or something.

    Wait until the clay is really soft. Ram the axle shaft down into the mud as deep as you can, pull out the shaft.

    Sprinkle in the portland cement, do not fill the hole just get it down to the bottom.

    Do that all along the area affected, use about a 50 lb bag for every 20 ft2 or so.

    Your done, try to allow a day or so for it to cure up.

    This does good things it dries out the clay below and stabilizes it against underground water seepage, it stabilizes the surface so that erosion is minimized, it does not form rocks or solid spots that impede water drainage, or hert people more.

    Plus you get a great upper body work out.

    The concrete will work but you end up hauling a bunch of gravel for no reason.
    Portland cement is a very hydroscopic powder.

  8. #8
    Builder of Trails
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Portland cement is a very hydroscopic powder.
    I believe you mean hygroscopic.

    If you can find pieces of sidewalk or driveway that have been jack hammered out and removed, if you can get them to the trail, they make great armoring when flipped upside down.

    D

  9. #9
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    I second this idea

    Quote Originally Posted by ramshackle
    Something to consider - ditch the back side of the trail to intercept the seep and drain it off in the nearest dip, with an open culvert if needed.
    Walt

  10. #10
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    I believe you mean hygroscopic.

    If you can find pieces of sidewalk or driveway that have been jack hammered out and removed, if you can get them to the trail, they make great armoring when flipped upside down.

    D
    This would be miserable. I have this busted sidewalk, but its not convenient getting it to the site. It would be 1/2 mile trips with a wheelbarrow. I have another trail section near this pile of sidewalk chunks.

    I think I'm going to pave in steel. I have several 2 foot x 6 foot sections. I was having trouble thinking of who to keep the sheets in place. The anchor will be a cedar log dug into the ground, and steel screwed to the log. I can overlap the steel sheets like roofing tiles and little to no rain water should get to the soil underneath. It's simple, already on-site, possibly unique.

    I'll try the back sloping and Portland cement holes in other locations.

  11. #11
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Easiest and best fix.

    Get several bags of protland cement and a big steel shaft like a car axle or something.

    Wait until the clay is really soft. Ram the axle shaft down into the mud as deep as you can, pull out the shaft.
    How far apart are the holes?

    Wouldn't a pick or digging iron work or are you looking for a 2" or 3" diameter hole?

  12. #12
    Single Speed Junkie
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    A ladder bridge or french drain would be my first two thoughts.

  13. #13
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    I think the steel will get worn smooth by bike tires and shoes. It will be very slick when wet. Can you rough up the tread surface to give it some texture?

  14. #14
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wrench Monkey
    I think the steel will get worn smooth by bike tires and shoes. It will be very slick when wet. Can you rough up the tread surface to give it some texture?
    If the steel is similar to that you would find on stairs in a industrial plant (sorry can not think of the specific name currently). Then it would hold great. Flat sheet metal then it would be best left alone.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    I have a new section of trail with a few areas of really muddy clay that take forever to dry. The whole trail is side slope/bench cut. The problem areas almost seem to have a spring under them. I'm talking 2 inches of wet oozing clay mud when the rest of the trail is damp, but good enough to ride.
    I can think of two trails in the Santa Cruz mountains with this same problem. The problem with both of them and in your case appears that the seep is upslope of the trail. That's not going to go away, although it may dry up seasonally. Picture digging a hole in the sand on the beach down near the water's edge. You hit water level in your hole and the water flows in.

    One of the two trails I mentioned dealt with the seep by armoring the seep section with turf block. This has worked well. The trail carries horse traffic as well as bicycles, and is holding up very well, including the turf bloc sections.

    The other trail, in a different park, had a longer boggy section. The land manager delineated the problem section with parallel rows of pressure treated peeler cores, then filled in between with about 4" of compacted base rock. In essence, they built an elevated causeway over the boggy section. This seems to be working well, although I wonder how many years it will be before the base rock has to be replenished. I also think Trex 2x4' would be a better edging choice, due to their permanence and lack of toxicity.

  16. #16
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    Ladder Bridge as suggested before. Is the clay a pretty large area, or is rerouting an option without losing much of the trail?

  17. #17
    Mmmm Rocks Good
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    I'll 3rd this!

    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    Walt
    This woked really well w/an area we had a perpetual problem with. We re-routed the seep into a fairly deep ditch on the uphill side of the trail and then had a central runout area whic we bridged with a very large flat rock! It stays dry now even under the worst conditions and after 2 years of use all we have to do is drag out the fall leafs every now and then.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fattirewilly
    How far apart are the holes?

    Wouldn't a pick or digging iron work or are you looking for a 2" or 3" diameter hole?
    Sure just depends how deep the really soupy stuff is...

    If it is really soupy the holes are right beside each other, your really just mixing the portland in to the soup.

    The bar, axle or whatever, should be thin and long enough to penetrate the soup and kinda stick in the bottom of it.....

  19. #19
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by black hills tj
    Ladder Bridge as suggested before. Is the clay a pretty large area, or is rerouting an option without losing much of the trail?
    Clay area is sizable. I can reroute 10 or 20 feet away, but my primary concern is rerouting having the same problem. Reroute is not out of the question, just means I will have "lost".

  20. #20
    Who turned out the lights
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    A lot of times, you have a seep b/c the trail happens to be at an elevation close to a hard limestone shelf. Surface water soaks into ground, continues downward, hits limstone, travels along limestone, and then out of the sideslope.

    A lot of times, simply re-routing uphill a bit to get above the shelf is all it takes.

    We have also rock-armored sections using various sizes of gravel (1"-3") punched into the soil with a McLeod. We also cut some drains and/or constructed french drains to encourage the water to flow to one place and then away from the trail.

    There's no easy fix. I would really suggest not using the metal, especially if it's just sheet steel. It'll get slick and people will fall, creating more problems. It will also only be a bandaid, and not a solution.

  21. #21
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by Francis Buxton
    I would really suggest not using the metal, especially if it's just sheet steel. It'll get slick and people will fall, creating more problems. It will also only be a bandaid, and not a solution.
    The metal is not corregated like industrial building steps. Its not like thin sheet or roofing metal, but is maybe 1/5" thick. It does have 10 to 20 years of rust that gives it some texture. It think it might get worn smooth, get slick, cause people to fall, and maybe cut themselves on the edge. Thanks for the warnings.

    Now I'm thinking of ditching the hillside just above the trail, catching the seep, and draining it to a little culvert of some type. Couple bags of Portland mixed into the trail surface for good measure.

  22. #22
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    Clay is really nasty stuff expansive, water holding, and soupy as all get out. Laying something on top is just a temporary fix - you will be digging out your pavers in a year or two or laying new ones on top.
    Your only permanent solutions are:
    drain off the uphill water source somewhere else - culvert etc
    to excavate it out down to good draining soil, back filling with good draining soil.
    to bridge it - driving piers down to good draining soil
    reroute

  23. #23
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    One other idea

    You have probably looked at all the re-route options already, but one that I've recently come to appreciate is that sometimes it works better to re-route downhill from a wet area.

    Eventually the water draining through a seep will form a channel, which is usually easier to route through than the seep.

    Walt

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