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  1. #1
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    Whats the best way to clear brush?

    My family has 40 acres of timberland on a hillside with a few established roads and lots of brush! I want to start building some MTB trails. I have a tractor with several PTO attachtments which include a brush hog and grader at my disposal. So I wanted to hear from people who have experience building trails from scratch the best way to clear brush and make a nice dirt trail to build jumps and other features on. I also have other basic tools like shovels and rakes. As a new trail builder any input would be appreciated
    Whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  2. #2
    featherweight clydesdale
    Reputation: Fattirewilly's Avatar
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    Do you care about sustainability, it's private, it's up to you? Is the hillside steep enough that you don't want to drive the tractor across it and instead just drive up/down it? Does the tractor have a front end loader/bucket?

    Answer those and you'll get more thought out answers.
    Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club
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  3. #3
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    Yeah I want sustainable, the hillside is my sandbox I can pretty much do whatever I want as long as im not clear cutting the trees. There are some places where it is to steep to side hill the tractor. Its not even sloped the whole way down. The tractor does have a front end loader, I can also put forks on it like a fork lift. Im just not sure how to start and was wondering what would be the most efficient way would be and what other peoples experiences were, thanks!
    Whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  4. #4
    Killer of Chains
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    Spraying, though I'm not sure what all weed killers are good and bad for the environment.

    Goats. Hook'em up to a chain and let them hang out for awhile. Plus goats are cool.

  5. #5
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    Machets!

    Here in Costa Rica, we just finshed chopping our way through 6 miles of jungle. I hired 10 "ticos" and we made our way up. They used machets Todd Branham and Walt Bready laid out some sweet trail for us to construct. This took around 2 weeks at 40 hours per week per man. The corridor is ready for construction. We have 1.5 miles done!

    mtbosacostaricadotweeblydotcom

    Good luck and count your fingers at the end of the day!

  6. #6
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    My coriander clearer of choice is an echo brush blade i can clear 1/4 mile per hour of dense brush light brush u could get almost 1 mile cleared per hour. almost no limit to steepness of slope and will clear 3 inch tree with no prob anything bigger you should probably rout around. 2nd choice would be a good machete and a cutter mattock lots more work though

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the input everybody!
    Whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  8. #8
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    Pull it. Cutting brush will either grow right back, or you'll curse the pungies forever.
    http://facebook.com/CharlemontTrails
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  9. #9
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowkey1505 View Post
    Yeah I want sustainable, the hillside is my sandbox I can pretty much do whatever I want as long as im not clear cutting the trees. There are some places where it is to steep to side hill the tractor. Its not even sloped the whole way down. The tractor does have a front end loader, I can also put forks on it like a fork lift. Im just not sure how to start and was wondering what would be the most efficient way would be and what other peoples experiences were, thanks!
    Chainsaw or lopper everything in your desired corridor off at waist height. If you don't mind a tractor wide corridor, then dig the stumps out w/ the front end loader. If you don't want it tractor wide, use an axe mattock or drop $250 renting a mini excavator for a day.

    You could leave smaller stuff for the bush hog, but digging it out really prevents it from coming back and keeps you from having pungi spikes all over the place.
    Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club
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  10. #10
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    yes removing the pungies is a must but in my method of trail building that is part of the benching step not the clearing many like to leave the waste high pungies and remove from there i find it take me more time. But then again im weird

  11. #11
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    http://www.stihlusa.com/trimmers/FS550.html


    Use this with a tri-tip steel blade. We just finished clearing brush for a new trail that we are building. It can cut through almost everything up to about 1.5-2', so a supplemental chain saw is always a good idea. Though leaving large trees/shrubs and clearing around them is a great way to give your trail natural flow and keep things technical. Depends on the trail design you had in mind.... tight and techy or open and flowy?
    Gotta love that government cheese...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaintPeelinPbody View Post
    Spraying, though I'm not sure what all weed killers are good and bad for the environment.

    Goats. Hook'em up to a chain and let them hang out for awhile. Plus goats are cool.
    I'd stay away from spraying. You are going to be tearing up the vegetation for trail tread anyways so the addition of chemicals in unnecessary. Plus, having a trail lined with dead plants is kindof sad :-( I might cry a little lol but hey I work in forestry restoration and management so go figure.

    +100 on the goats! Back in high school I parked at a park and ride and rode the public bus into Seattle to get to class. The park and ride had a huge problem with blackberries and other brush taking over the parking lot and around the road so they fenced off the area they wanted clear and unleashed like 30 goats. THEY DID WORK!!! Seriously they ate everything down to the ground and cleaned it out in less than a week. Plus the county only had to rent the goats... no long term commitments required :-D
    Gotta love that government cheese...

  13. #13
    featherweight clydesdale
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailMasonJones View Post
    yes removing the pungies is a must but in my method of trail building that is part of the benching step not the clearing many like to leave the waste high pungies and remove from there i find it take me more time. But then again im weird
    Whether or not rootball removal is part of clearing or benching, it's easier to pop-out in either case w/ the 3 foot lever / trunk attached to it.

    For those doing or thinking of doing corridor clearing on public land, try to grub the rootballs very soon if not immediately after cutting off at waist height. We had a trail where we left the stumps for a week or two between trailwork days, and a hiker/birdwatcher stumbled upon the the "sapling murder" and flipped out on our parks superintendent. He passed the flipout to the staff trail guy who in turn flipped out on us. We also now dispose of the sapling murder evidence far enough from the trail corridor that it's unlikely to be found.
    Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club
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  14. #14
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    Thanks for all the input guys its very helpfull! One dumb question though, what is "benching"?
    Whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

  15. #15
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    You'll work that out the first time your tractor rolls sideways down the hill.

  16. #16
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    Benching (bookmark this publication!):

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/...age08.htm#full

    My take on cutting brush, from a XC builders perspective, is to take it out by hand, pulling where you can, cutting where you have to. Keep the corridor fairly narrow.

    Steve Z
    Pedaling when it's dry
    And paddling when it's wet

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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by swampboy62 View Post
    Benching (bookmark this publication!):

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/...age08.htm#full

    My take on cutting brush, from a XC builders perspective, is to take it out by hand, pulling where you can, cutting where you have to. Keep the corridor fairly narrow.

    Steve Z
    Oh I see now, thanks for the link!
    Whatever happens, don't fight the mountain.

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