Newly cut trails = spring slop- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Newly cut trails = spring slop

    So I've got a sticky situation. A lot of trails that were cut back in mid winter, which were hard and solid at that time (even though it was rainy), have now become a soft and sticky mess. It looks like freshly melted snow in some spots (which isn't at all the case) The stuff cut in the last month or two is staying pretty solid, despite a lot of rain on it.

    The trail is closed for riding, but in april since it was a little drier, we decided to let the volunteer builders bring their bikes and ride to the work site (the trail keeps getting longer, now like a 3 mile hike, so it wastes a lot of time and energy that could be spent building). We had about double the average monthly rainfall for March, so I really want to blame that, but April has seen a descent number of sunny days by NW standards so I really thought it would be in better condition by now.

    So what do I do with this mess? A side of me says that summer is near and then everything will dry up and the new trail will get packed in nice and hard and next winter it will not have this problem. Another side of me wants to go scrape all the mucky clay off and recheck every inch of sideslope to make sure its 5%, even though I know most of it is. I know there were a few specific spots that needed some sideslope work, as they were showing signs back during winter, but now its like 10x more sloppy sections.

    So what gives? Too much rain in march, or are a few questionable sideslopes have leached over into other areas? And what do you do with sloppy, rutted, trail? Nothing at all, just break the ruts to allow it to drain, or scrape it all down to hard stuff?

  2. #2
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    I would wait and let summer traffic smooth it back over and pack it down. Fix any spots where water is pooling and see how it looks next year.
    I feel that building a new trail with outslope is a great idea, but it never lasts. Grade reversal is what a trail really relies upon to keep it dry over the long term.

  3. #3
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    You may be in an area with a natural spring. If that's the case, contemplate an upslope french drain or armoring the tread

  4. #4
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    Sounds like it is a long ways back there, what kind of nearby resources do you have to armor? Rocks?

  5. #5
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    wait

    Don't worry about something that is unknown. Its been raining, its muddy. Wait til it drys and see what you have. Then you may need to worry, redo, rethink.

    good luck.

  6. #6
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    Send the crew out on Fatbikes. They'll flatten the ruts and pack the tread more effectively. I've never seen a better fresh/loose trail breaking in machine.
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  7. #7
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    good idea ^

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_co2 View Post
    Another side of me wants to go scrape all the mucky clay off
    Sorry to hijack your thread,but I have a similar problem,I just recently cleared a new section of maybe about 300 meters.
    There are a couple of points of grade reversal along it so there is no water sitting on the trail,but the ground is clay,so its going to be a mud fest until the summer really kicks in.

    There is a river running parallel to it and the river bed is made up of sand stone,so what I was thinking was to bust up some rocks on the trail with a sledge hammer in the softest ground.
    Would it be a waste of time doing this without scraping off the ground first?and this could be a "how long is a piece of string" question,but how far would you normally have to dig in clay before you reach hard ground?

  9. #9
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    We use the spring slop time to find what will be trouble areas or the most and least troublesome spots within.

    Maybe flag the worst of these spots now to know how to best fix things and where you should direct water.

    Good luck.
    ƃuoɹʍ llɐ ʇno əɯɐɔ ʇɐɥʇ

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bitflogger View Post
    We use the spring slop time to find what will be trouble areas or the most and least troublesome spots within.

    Maybe flag the worst of these spots now to know how to best fix things and where you should direct water.

    Good luck.
    Exactly.

    My $0.02 is the warm weather has made everyone feel like the trails should be open. Regardless of the temperature and relatively low rainfall this spring, it still takes several weeks for most trails to drain. For some reason, it seems like the trails in my area are usually ready to go when the trees leaf out, your mileage may vary.

    Rant On/ Does it seem to you like the people who complain the most about getting the trails opened up early are also the ones least likely to show up for a work day? /Rant Off

    Walt

  11. #11
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    Clay loam needs more time to dry for proper compaction to occur. If you ride on it while it's saturated it just displaces and you have to rework the tread.

    All new built up trail is similar, even a sand dominated loam will be a mess before it has a chance to fully dry. If you can keep traffic off of it while it's saturated you're saving yourself a lot of work.

    Now if you've tamped it, let it dry, allow for regular use which sets in a good compaction during a dry spell, and you STILL get problems when it rains... Well then you've got something else going on, and it could be your soil make-up, or seep, or some other critical flaw.
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  12. #12
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    Good advice here. Tamping and use bring water up through the surface and things get worse. Just try stamping your feet on beach sand (or your trail) to see how fast it happens. Not sure about fatbikes, but judging by the effect of golf cart on soft ground, I think any wheel leaves a rut and then that magnifies with further use. Keep the trail closed.

    I don't think sandstone would be ideal, but if there are flagged areas that need attention, we foot stamp in a layer of small stones (palm size) until the water wells up and then leave it to dry a bit. Then we do it again and maybe again until there is no water coming up. At that time you can tamp the surface down. It's like mini armouring and becomes a surface that holds fine silt, but remains smooth and water can run off it.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for all the replies, this has definitely put my fears to rest that there is something wrong with the trail design. This is my first build in a wet climate, and while I expected some sloppy trail, I just didn't expect some areas to be rock solid and others to be complete slop.

    I think I will just correct the few areas that I know to be problematic from early winter rains, and put the rest of the focus on flow corrections. Its also strange to build all of this trail and not get to test ride it...

  14. #14
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    You can ride it. All trails should be test ridden in sections. just don't let everyone ride it.

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