making trails in abandoned fields- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    making trails in abandoned fields

    I have 50 acres of (mostly) abandoned farmland. It has some interesting features such as a ravine with a creek in it, swamp, wetland and 10 acres of hardwood forest with some vertical variation allowing nice technical (if short) descents. The forest is really easy to build trails in using chainsaw and tractor (43 HP) but my problems in the rest of the property are:

    1. Bumpy fields

    Where the trails cross the abandoned fields, it is uncomfortably bumpy, not in a good way but just in a frustrating (to my kids and friends) way. I've tried a box scraper but it didn't make much difference. I was thinking of renting a rototiller and tilling the trails then running over them with the boxscraper. But I'm worried this will make them boring.

    2. Vanilla areas

    There are some boring areas which I would like to liven up with simple obstacles. I have an endless supply of tree trunks and logs, up to about 16" in diameter. I also have a bunch of leftover fill from house construction. The only stipulation is that I have to keep the trails passable for horses.

    3. Seasonal flooding

    In the spring a lot of the area I would like to build trails in is under a foot of water as a result of beaver activity. Any suggestions? Also I have swampy areas which eventually dry out in the fall... looking for simple and cheap ways of building boardwalks over these.

    4. Trail marking

    Finally, I'd really like to find an inconspicuous but clear way of marking trails. Ideas?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Don't worry, be happy!
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  3. #3
    Shortcutting Hikabiker
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    for #3 kill the beavers

  4. #4
    since 4/10/2009
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    Let the beavers alone and work around their activity. Either build an elevated boardwalk type trail over the seasonally flooded terrain, or avoid it altogether.

  5. #5
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    The beavers are staying where they are for the moment.

    The IMBA resources are very helpful...

    For the seasonally flooded area I think the answer is a kind of bridge/boardwalk but the question is how fancy (or not). Something like a long ladder bridge would work as there is no problem dropping piles all the way along.

    What's your favorite way to build a ladder (assuming that there is lots of forest lumber on hand and a chainsaw)?

  6. #6
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    The biggest question, oddly, is the one that seems the simplest. The abandoned fields are incredibly bumpy (imagine biking over a plowed field) and also pretty stony. It is a really unpleasant riding experience. I have a box scraper with tines but even on its most aggressive setting it tends to ride over the top of the surface.

    I was thinking of maybe using a roller like this one on a wet day:

    http://www.northerntool.ca/product_i...6714c2545ce321

  7. #7

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    For the bumpy fields, how far is it? Is it something you could just shovel smooth? Otherwise drag it on a nice soft day, or try to look hard for smooth areas and wind your field trail through them.

    For the wet areas, I like a boardwalk made using mostly saplings. You can cut them right where you need them mostly, and if the ride feels bumpy you can either split larger pieces for a smoother ride, or deck it with pallet pieces. Oh yeah, use cedar for anything touching the water or dirt. I cut smallish cedar trees, sharpen an end, and drive them deep for pilings. Wet conditions make this the easiest.

    On the vanilla areas, just get creative. Throw in some bridges, some small dirt jumps and roller sections, like a pumptrack. It sounds like you have the equipment, so you can make some nice berms and such.

    At my old trails, we built jumps across our creeks, some get big, but you can make them step ups on uneven creek banks sides to minimize landing impacts. Have fun and I am so damn jealous. I wish I had to decide how to fill 50 acres with my own trail system.
    erik

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pinkheadedbug
    The biggest question, oddly, is the one that seems the simplest. The abandoned fields are incredibly bumpy (imagine biking over a plowed field)
    Sounds like the field was plowed and then left alone. Since you have a tractor, you could plow (or rip with a ripper) your trails, followed by disking. You'd have to locate a plow and a disk obviously, but that will remove your humps.

    The problem is then how do you wear the trail in. Walking a horse or riding a motorcycle down the trail a dozen times will compact the tread area, but it will also make the tread an instant erosion problem (tread will be lower than surrounding tilled earth) if the trail has any fall line areas. Perhaps when you disk, you go one way, then the opposite way with a one or two bottom plow. This might create a mound in the middle, making a high spot for the tread and providing some drainage on each side. I haven't done this before, but from growing up on a farm (1,200 acres) and building trail, it sorta makes sense.

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