Backyard Trail Building: Best mechanized tool for cutting new trail?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 27 of 27
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    8,159

    Backyard Trail Building: Best mechanized tool for cutting new trail?

    We're buying ten acres in a low angle valley backing up to BLM. It's all DG sands and sage brush, some drainage channels, but nothing extreme.

    I need a machine that will serve dual purposes for plowing the driveway (less often), cutting trail, and all around utility use on the property.

    In theory I could rent a machine for the trail clearing, but I think I'll get more use over time as I do landscaping projects.

    Though I'd love to buy a trackhoe, my funds are limited to less than 10k. I am a mechanic and so maintenance will be in house. I'll probably buy used.

    I've entertained ideas ranging from a combination loader backhoe, small farm tractor, even a Bobcat. I am comfortable operating loaders and backhoes.

    Has anyone had success with a larger ATV or side by side with a blade?

    Mostly I'm interested in what has worked for small trail projects where there is less heavy lifting and more dirt pushing and brush pulling.

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Posts
    611
    Pairing a mini-ex and stand-behind power dump barrow with 1,500+ lbs. has been successful for us building here in PA even between tight trees.

    Having skilled operators helps too.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    8,159
    Umm, a mini ex and a power dump might be a bit beyond the scope of a privateer... did I mention there were no trees, just DG and sage brush? Maybe the dual purpose driveway plowing gives it away

    Anyone have experience using a 4x4 ATV with a drag and/or blade for setting trail in desert environs?

    I know I'll be doing a fair amount of handwork, but I need a little muscle to "pave the way".

  4. #4
    WillWorkForTrail
    Reputation: Cotharyus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    4,923
    I've used a loader/backhoe combo like you're talking about. As long as it isn't too steep, they do ok. It's by no means the fastest way, but if you have time on your side, you're patient, and have a couple of spare brain cells to rub together, you can actually put a decent trail together with one. All that said, I've never built trail in the desert, but my suspicion is it would be easier with that setup to build trail in the desert than it is in the woods.

  5. #5
    beer thief
    Reputation: radair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    4,901
    How long and steep is the driveway? For plowing you want something as wide as possible, just the opposite for trail building. I had a Kubota BX backhoe loader (4’ wide) that I used for some bench cutting but it was not ideal. Very versatile machine though. I now own a U17 mini-ex that is amazing for trail work but would be useless for plowing a driveway. My driveway is 1/4 mile long and steep in both directions, for that a cabbed tractor with 5’ snowblower is ideal.

    A skid steer might work fine for you. If the driveway is small or short a walk-behind like a Dingo or DitchWitch could be adequate.

    An ATV with blade would work fine for occasional snow plowing but I wouldn’t expect to do much dirt work with it. Too light to effectively plow sand and gravel and it would beat the piss out of it.

  6. #6
    Moderator Moderator
    Reputation: Harryman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Posts
    2,856
    A used mini skid steer, which comes with a bucket, and then buy a blade.

    Dozer & Snow Blade Attachments for Mini Skid Steers | Skid Steer Attachments | Spartan Equipment

    You can rent a mini/micro X for cutting back switchbacks or other suitable situations.

    You can plow shallow snow with an ATV, and they're fast, but they don't have enough weight or torque for more than scaping dirt. Width is another thing to keep in mind, wide machines make wide trails, which you can narrow after, but narrow machines make better true single track.

    If you win the lottery, a Sutter 300 is the bomb.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    543
    For a ten acre parcel I would buy a pick mattock and a square shovel. Spend my money on an IMBA trail building course. Maybe you don't need the course. That is better yet.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    264
    I'm in Western NY... so a lot of organic dirt, trees and roots. so I have no idea how things would go where you are.

    but, for the past 6 years I have used a drag, out of pressure treated posts, one side has "teeth" rebar... a couple of rows... the other side v shaped "scraper blades". weighs about 100 lbs.

    we have used it often over here to remove the top organic and at times even getting down to the solid mineral soil.... I am the believer that you will never get ground as packed as good old undisturbed terra firma... don't know how it's out where you are at....

    I bet you could make a blade attachment to the back of an atv. that could pivot to help scrap your intended tread....I think a drag blade might work better than trying to use a plow designed for snow... most snow plows have springs that let them collapse.. and as said they are almost too wide for what I am guessing you want to do.


    we always go back and do handwork, and certainly my above drag doesn't do steep side slopes or really much benching,, but it does a pretty good job.

    on the other hand, I had a guy create this... my friends consider this a death machine... I've had it out a few times. it removes material down about and inch and a half and about 6 inches wide... i am still tinkering with it to... but no reason not to get creative.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  9. #9
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    8,159
    Driveway is fifteen feet wide, gradual slope, 150yds long, good southern exposure in a low moisture zone, so no heavy plowing, mostly scraping <6".

    Soils are decomposed granite sands, not a lot of rock, large sage, thin grasses. Fall line grade is max of 6%, so easy digging and not a lot of build up. Mostly I need to clear a path, pull Sage, and level the track.

    I read some articles on using an ATV with a drag, if I ran a narrower drag I should be able to keep the track narrow.

    A walk behind mini ex is interesting, but it would be slow to move snow... but then the trail building and yard work are the higher priority.

  10. #10
    beer thief
    Reputation: radair's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Posts
    4,901
    For slopes that flat you could probably burn in trails with a small motorcycle. Rotten rock is easy digging by hand where you need a berm or roller. Buy a small tractor with loader and 3-pt hitch to work around the place.

    T. Wright’s death machine could work pretty well for you too

  11. #11
    saddlemeat
    Reputation: bsieb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    3,857
    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    For a ten acre parcel I would buy a pick mattock and a square shovel. Spend my money on an IMBA trail building course. Maybe you don't need the course. That is better yet.
    What he said. A four wheelers is good for snow.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  12. #12
    middle ring single track
    Reputation: Moe Ped's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    4,660
    What's the average side slope of your property?

    What width trails are your goal?

    10 acres and $10k I'm thinking a used 20~30 hp 4x4 Kubota-like tractor (w/loader and no end to the 3pt attachments available) would be a good investment. (I've got a B7510 which was $12.5 new with loader and box scraper) This assumes your terrain is fairly gentle.

    A mini skid steer like the aforementioned Dingo or Ditch Witch are mighty handy and are better in steeper terrain for narrower (but still wide) trails.

    Mini-ex's are nice too but you'll wish you had a "regular" tractor when not cutting trial or digging ditches.

    Some folks use HD rototillers backwards for narrow ST; similar in concept to the "death machine" above. Really depends on soil type and the operator's upper body strength. Not for the faint of heart.

    Real men use pick and shovel.
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

    Windows 10, destroying humanity one upgrade at a time.

  13. #13
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    543
    Buy a used Kubota. Sell it when your done for what you paid for it . Then buy a tractor with a bucket.

  14. #14
    Dig it!
    Reputation: 2bfluid's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    712
    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    Buy a used Kubota. Sell it when your done for what you paid for it . Then buy a tractor with a bucket.
    Rent a mini X for a week once you have a solid plan, then buy beer and pizza for your Bros, then buy the tractor you need for your driveway. Just my .02 cents.
    Should you do more trail work?

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    8,159
    24-36”, side hill is <5%, really mild slop in all directions, gets steeper off the property but at that point I can cut by hand.

    Thing is, it’ll take me a while, all winter into next summer, to cut trails, so renting is not a great option.

    I’d like to get a Dingo or similar, but they’re pricey, as much as a good 4 x 4 tractor.
    If there were a UTV with a PTO; though theyre on the wide side, that would work with a drag and a small back blade. I’d end up with wider trails...

    Quote Originally Posted by Moe Ped View Post
    What's the average side slope of your property?

    What width trails are your goal?

    10 acres and $10k I'm thinking a used 20~30 hp 4x4 Kubota-like tractor (w/loader and no end to the 3pt attachments available) would be a good investment. (I've got a B7510 which was $12.5 new with loader and box scraper) This assumes your terrain is fairly gentle.

    A mini skid steer like the aforementioned Dingo or Ditch Witch are mighty handy and are better in steeper terrain for narrower (but still wide) trails.

    Mini-ex's are nice too but you'll wish you had a "regular" tractor when not cutting trial or digging ditches.

    Some folks use HD rototillers backwards for narrow ST; similar in concept to the "death machine" above. Really depends on soil type and the operator's upper body strength. Not for the faint of heart.

    Real men use pick and shovel.

  16. #16
    bigger than you.
    Reputation: Gigantic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    3,068
    Backyard Trail Building: Best mechanized tool for cutting new trail?-22770747_1709849895753585_4322348800473165803_o.jpgI've been building trail with an SK 750, it will plow your driveway, too. I'm not keen on wheeled vehicles as trail building tools. They tend to have a heavier footprint, leave ruts in the trail tread and get stuck more often. Tracked vehicles are where it's at!

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation: BikesOnSnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    296
    A Ditch Witch SK650 with an angle might fit the bill as some have said. It does well building mellow flow trails in terrain without tons of rocks, stumps, roots, or inconsistent organic soil layers. Works ok to plow short driveways, but is not ideal.

    I set up a BCS tiller and rotary plow to build singletrack benches. Looks a lot like the Death Machine! Worked ok, but not ideal for the variable terrain of the northeast.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnJ4AGZ1lQM&t=21s

    Haven't found anything better than a mini ex with an experienced operator.
    In the summer I build trails: www.sinuosity.net
    In the winter I build these: www.fatbikeskis.com

  18. #18
    WillWorkForTrail
    Reputation: Cotharyus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    4,923
    Quote Originally Posted by BikesOnSnow View Post

    I set up a BCS tiller and rotary plow to build singletrack benches. Looks a lot like the Death Machine! Worked ok, but not ideal for the variable terrain of the northeast.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnJ4AGZ1lQM&t=21s
    I'm actually glad you posted this. A friend of mine was talking about it a couple weeks ago, and I was wondering if it would really make things easier, or does it just leave you with a lot of loose dirt to clean up?

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: BikesOnSnow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    296
    It made it easier to do the bench cut for sure. I had to alter it a bit, by rotating the attachment, to cut a more level bench rather than a trench. The problem is that it mixed the organic soil in with the mineral soil. So we had to remove the duff by hand before running it, which is about half of the labor anyway. I think it would be better in places where the organic layer is thinner and can be mixed with the mineral soil.
    In the summer I build trails: www.sinuosity.net
    In the winter I build these: www.fatbikeskis.com

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    264
    Quote Originally Posted by BikesOnSnow View Post
    A Ditch Witch SK650 with an angle might fit the bill as some have said. It does well building mellow flow trails in terrain without tons of rocks, stumps, roots, or inconsistent organic soil layers. Works ok to plow short driveways, but is not ideal.

    I set up a BCS tiller and rotary plow to build singletrack benches. Looks a lot like the Death Machine! Worked ok, but not ideal for the variable terrain of the northeast.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnJ4AGZ1lQM&t=21s

    Haven't found anything better than a mini ex with an experienced operator.
    I had a gravely 2 wheel tractor for a bit, mainly for the rotary plow, and made a back blade for it... problem was it was a beast to try to move about on a side slope, it's rotary plow certainly could loosen and fling dirt but a root 3/4 of an inch would often disrupt my operation.. gravely also came with a snow thrower nicknamed the dog eater... the thing was vicious. probably could even toss dirt... but never tried that...lol

    played with a stand on ditch witch 650 like the one above,didn't have the articulated blade, which would have made it much more useful many of the rental places I looked into don't have the blade, someone here or somewhere suggested buying the blade.. $1500 or so.. and then just renting the machine... but guess if you hope to use it for snow removal, that ain't an option..

  21. #21
    middle ring single track
    Reputation: Moe Ped's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    4,660
    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    24-36”, side hill is <5%, really mild slop in all directions, gets steeper off the property but at that point I can cut by hand.

    Thing is, it’ll take me a while, all winter into next summer, to cut trails, so renting is not a great option.

    I’d like to get a Dingo or similar, but they’re pricey, as much as a good 4 x 4 tractor.
    If there were a UTV with a PTO; though theyre on the wide side, that would work with a drag and a small back blade. I’d end up with wider trails...
    Inasmuch as trails usually are built with 5~10% outslope for drainage you don't need to move any dirt at all. Just flag your route and run a brush mower. You may have to dig out some stumps. Then just ride it in. If you really think you need to scrape the ground a 4x4 tractor (Kubota) with a 3-pt angle blade (or box scraper) would work just fine.
    Content here does not officially represent the CA DPR.

    Windows 10, destroying humanity one upgrade at a time.

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    1,325
    Quote Originally Posted by endo_alley View Post
    For a ten acre parcel I would buy a pick mattock and a square shovel. Spend my money on an IMBA trail building course. Maybe you don't need the course. That is better yet.
    +1. With 10 acres that isnt much trail so is easy to do by hand. We have very rocky soil so I use a pick mattock almost exclusively. A mcleod would be a good tool if you dont have a lot of big rocks.

    I have 100 acres with trails all built by hand.

    If I had to get something for trails it would be a mini skid steer. They are walk behind/stand up and can make reasonably narrow trails.

  23. #23
    mtbr member
    Reputation: railntrail's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    394
    I have 20 acres plus that is mostly sage brush, some aspens and pine forest and have hand built a figure 8 loop with a 1/2 mile out and back for a total of about 7 miles using loppers, a McLeod and a KTM. I pulled a lot of sagebrush by turning it in circles to break the roots and then it pulled pretty easily from the soil. It’s left a nice natural looking single track tread without damaging the surroundings. I have one machine built berm close to the house from when I rented a mini x for some landscaping. That being said, I do own a Bobcat 873 for plowing the driveway but would never think of using it for clearing sage brush as it would leave a ugly mess in its wake.

  24. #24
    mtbr member
    Reputation: drew p's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    315
    I agree with Paul. You don't need to move any dirt on that low of slope. Mow it, ride in the line, run a vibraplate when the moisture is right. Maybe invest in a brush puller like the pullerbear or similar.

  25. #25
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    193
    Someone needs to make a 36" tracked machine with a 36" forestry mulcher on the front.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4LBqUY6ZyQ

    It would be ideal in my non rocky area.

  26. #26
    mtbr member
    Reputation: HypNoTic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Posts
    345
    Quote Originally Posted by karthur View Post
    Someone needs to make a 36" tracked machine with a 36" forestry mulcher on the front.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4LBqUY6ZyQ

    It would be ideal in my non rocky area.
    Now that Ditch Witch came out with the 1550, it might have the HP required to run a mulcher but even so, I would NOT operate that attachement without the safety of an enclosed cabin.

    If you have "lighter duty", a heavy-duty brush mower might do the trick and they are already available on Ditch Witch machines (either from Bradco, Felco, QuickAttach or EverythingAttachment.com).
    I build trails for moose & beaver
    PTBA member

  27. #27
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Posts
    193
    I agree. Obviously what it can tackle would be scaled down from the video shown. Yeah it can throw things pretty good. But a reach rotary cutter(bushhog) is pretty dangerous also. I have a rotary cutter(not a reach style) and a finish mower they will not do what I am looking for. What I plan to make is something halfway between a power rake(aka Harley Rake) and a foresty mulcher. Should be able to go though 3inch trees and remove the top layer of soil and roots. The power rake does well with the soil and ok with the roots but the trees/stumps require something else.

Similar Threads

  1. Tools for Building Downhill Single Track (Non-Mechanized)
    By kestondowning_ in forum Downhill - Freeride
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 09-19-2015, 09:28 PM
  2. Backyard pump track, is it possible in my backyard?
    By moden in forum Trail Building and Advocacy
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-07-2014, 05:18 PM
  3. Mechanized trail build
    By JDM in forum Trail Building and Advocacy
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 07-29-2014, 05:54 AM
  4. pics of mechanized building of single track
    By twright205 in forum Trail Building and Advocacy
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 09-09-2013, 06:04 PM
  5. Mechanized Trail Building Advice
    By th29 in forum Trail Building and Advocacy
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 02-06-2012, 09:19 AM

Members who have read this thread: 6

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

THE SITE

ABOUT MTBR

VISIT US AT

© Copyright 2020 VerticalScope Inc. All rights reserved.