Need Help with Plan of Action-
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bradym77's Avatar
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    Nov 2011

    Need Help with Plan of Action

    Alright, a little information to start with. I'm currently starting to build some trails on my property. I have 15 acres with 12 or so of it wooded.

    I have most of my first trail marked off and cutting some trees out of the way. What I'm wondering is if my following plan of attack is correct? I have little trail building experience and most of that was for motorcycles which doesn't translate well I'm finding.

    1. Mark trail
    2. Clear large debris (trees, logs, etc)
    3. Blow out trail with leaf blower
    4. Start bench cutting, grading trail for watershed
    5. Add features (berms, rollers, etc)

    Thanks for any information you can provide.

    I don't want to start and realize that I should have done something completely different.

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    More or less. steps 2 and 3 are merged together more or less and I'd split step 1 and shuffle some things. and I tend to use a rake more than a leaf blower. I think even a burly backpack Stihl isn't powerful enough for the stuff that I get with my rake, yet is too piddly to focus specifically on (like major corridor trimming). And when it comes to logs, those tend to be last. After seeing what the trail shapes up to be, I might change my mind on what I want to do with them (whether to incorporate them or not). Same with rocks.

    My process would be more like this:

    1. Identify/mark major control points (natural features to incorporate or avoid, handheld GPS is handy for marking waypoints during this phase). Sketch possible trail routing onto topo maps/satellite imagery.
    2. Flag rough corridor. Make adjustments to your planned routing based on what you see on the ground.
    3. Clear debris and brush from the rough corridor broadly to open things up and see more detail about the terrain (leaving live trees in place)
    4. Pin flag the actual route of the trail, giving large trees enough space to protect their roots
    5. Rake sticks, leaves, and other small debris from area of tread.
    6. Bench cut tread (dig up small trees as needed, including within corridor) and work the grade for drainage, flow, and fun
    7. Test ride sections and adjust
    8. Tweak/incorporate natural features. Add manmade ones.

    If it's just you, then you'll have to figure out how far you want to go on each step. When I've worked on projects, generally 1 and 2 are done for the whole planned trail by a small crew, or even 1 person before step 3. 3 and 4 tend to be done at about the same time, but in smaller doable segments, usually within a week of beginning step 5 (because pin flags are easily disturbed by other people or wildlife, it's a good idea to make sure they're not just sitting there for a long time). If you've got a crew, you oftentimes split them up and do 5 and 6 at the same time and you might even be able to have a couple others working ahead and doing 3 and 4 for the next section of trail if you can sustain the build pace. 7 and 8 are a process and might start at the same time as 5 and 6, but they can continue for weeks or months afterwards, even. If you're by yourself on this, it can take awhile to move from one step to the next.

  3. #3
    I need skills
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    "Add features (berms, rollers, etc)"
    Using a mini X or other machine?

    1. cut out large trees.
    2. Blow out trail with leaf blower.
    3. Mini X

    or 1. Mini X
    2. pluck out brush and organic matter
    3. finish work.

  4. #4
    Dirt Monkey
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Spend a lot of time on step #1 for the best results. It's a lot harder to correct a problem area once the trail is built. I walk a flagged corridor at least 3 times to get it dialed in. 1) Rough flagging with flagging tape & clinometer to establish max grade, 2) Centerline flagging (pin flag every 15') for clearing corridor, 3) Fine flagging (a flag every 3' at lower edge of trail) for dialing in flow, drainage features, and linking trail features (turns, berms, rollers, etc).

    - Cut/dig out smaller brush/saplings (grubbing).
    - Clear out big deadfall with chainsaws
    - Clear duff from soil and start benching/grading (save clean excavated soil for any dirt features planned in step 1)
    - Build features
    - Clean up flagging materials and "naturalize" construction disturbances
    - Add signage

  5. #5
    Hitching a ride
    Reputation: Schulze's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Step 1 should be to decide on a design purpose for the trail.
    Step 2: Look at what experienced trail builders have done with this same purpose
    Step 3: Read the available resources on "proper" trail building design/technique
    Step 4: Find the best fit for your terrain and what trail features you can put in.
    Step 5: Now design your trail path.

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bradym77's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Hello all again,

    I just wanted to thank you for all the great advice and wanted to give an update on my progress so far. I've spent a large amount of hours in the woods flagging and re-flagging after finding better lines and have made some really good progress.

    After the flagging came cutting of some small trees that were in the way then the hedgetrimmers clearing out thicker brush and thorn bushes. At this point I blew out the trail with my leafblower. Last night was my first time using a brush cutter attachment like the image below to clear out everything down to the dirt.

    Next on the agenda is blowing out the trail again since the brush cutter threw everything everywhere, then onto digging / benching. There are a few spots where I'm definitely going to have to armor the trail as anytime it rains water washes across it. Thankfully there is a place nearby where anyone can pull their car over and grab large slabs of rocks that fall from the cliff face. I make the trip past it several times a week so grabbing some each time will give me enough to armor up all places easily. Around the border of my property I have UTV trails which I'll be using to ferry all the rocks.

    All told I have .76 mile of trail so far. This coming winter I plan on adding more. I'll try to post photos / screenshots of what I have so far by this weekend.

    Need Help with Plan of Action-2019-04-25_094107.jpg

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation: roughster's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    1-3 - Good
    3.1 - Walk Trail again
    3.2 - Preliminary ride trail - yes even without the bench cut. It will give you a good feel for speed and flow.
    3.3 - Walk trail again to identify solutions to problems found on 3.1 and 3.2. REALLY think about once the trail is clear and smooth, how much speed will the average rider be carrying at each spot. Think about trail design in the context of maximizing how to carry that speed through the trail while using natural or built features to slow the rider down in prep for downtrail turns, features, etc.
    3.4 - Consider alternative paths, re-routes, spot fixes
    3.5 - Re-ride proposed trail
    3.6 - Soul searching
    3.7 - rewalk trail

    Repeat Steps 1 - 3.7 at least twice, then proceed to Step 4.
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  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bradym77's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Roughster, thanks for the info and I will do that as soon as I get my bike back from BikeFlights. I was out in Sedona / Prescott for a week and my trails seem positively tame and boring comparatively!

    Here is what I have so far. .8 mile trail, thankfully more descent than ascent. The topo map is useless with how little trail I have, at least with the app I was using. I'll try something different the next time I walk it.

    The other image of the trail is how I have it cut down so far. The creek bed is where I'm going to have two options. Ride down it a ways then up to the left by the big tree in the distance or straight across from where the big tree is.

    Attachment 1249102

    Need Help with Plan of Action-2019-04-29_100645.jpg

    Attachment 1249104

  9. #9
    Single(Pivot)and Happy
    Reputation: Boulder Pilot's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    It is kind of hard to tell from your picture but it looks like the "main trail" is sited in a drainage. Maybe it's just the orientation of the arrows.

    What is the grade of the area in the picture? Is the slope running top to bottom of the picture or left to right?
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Bradym77's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Quote Originally Posted by Boulder Pilot View Post
    It is kind of hard to tell from your picture but it looks like the "main trail" is sited in a drainage. Maybe it's just the orientation of the arrows.

    What is the grade of the area in the picture? Is the slope running top to bottom of the picture or left to right?
    Yeah sorry about that. I was trying to take pics while carrying the brush cutter. It is heading down. I'm going to clean up the rock bed and place a pathway of large stones down to where it turns off. I know after rain storms and such I'll have to come along and clean up debris but ultimately I think it will be worth it. Not sure why my other pics didn't come through. Here is a lay out of the trail.

    Name:  2019-04-29_084857.png
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