Winter trail damage?- Mtbr.com
Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Walt Dizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,434

    Winter trail damage?

    I like to ride in winter, but I'm worried that I could be causing trail damage.

    It seems obvious that when the trails are frozen solid and/or snow covered that it's pretty safe to ride them. But I've seen another condition where there is frozen mud and ice crystals have separated out. This ice/mud "froth" is not so strong and crunches under my wheels. I would assume if the dirt stays on the trail that I'm not damaging the trail by crunching over it. Am I right?

    Or is there other damage I could be doing?

    Walt

  2. #2
    since 4/10/2009
    Reputation: Harold's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    29,331
    If the ground is frozen, you're fine no matter what the character of the frozen particles.

    There are a few cases where you can cause damage, but really it mostly depends on the soil character in your area. In the midwest, wintertime including the spring thaw (pretty much until the vegetation starts to leaf out) is when the trails get most of their damage. People go out to ride when it breaks above freezing and that's when the damage occurs. The surface of the trail thaws, but some distance down, the ground is still frozen. The thawed moisture has NOWHERE to go, so the trails get soupy. Add that to the repeated freeze/thaw cycles that cause the soil to loosen up and heave, and riding through that slop creates ruts that are only going to retain water when the ground completely thaws in the springtime.

    Adding to the thaw issues is the fact that trees and other plants at this point are not drawing up moisture. This leaves ALL melted snow/ice and precipitation to enter the soil to eventually work its way to streams. The soil remains wetter at this point in time until the vegetation begins to take up water from the surface.

    Then you have the affect of the sun. Direct sunshine helps the surface of the soil to dry out by evaporating some of the moisture. Until the temps regularly get into the 60's and 70's during the daytime and not below about 45 at night, not much surface evaporation is going to occur, which allows the surface soil to remain moist for a longer period of time.

    These conditions tend to be the case more often when the soil consists of finer particles that retain water more easily. Soils with lots of sand content move moisture more quickly, so once the entire soil column thaws, the soils drain pretty well. Soils with lots of rock also tend to draw water down more quickly as the moisture moves through cracks and fissures between chunks of rock (when the thaw is complete). Not to mention if the rock is exposed on the surface, it is able to support you despite the fact that the soil nearby is soupy.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Walt Dizzy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    1,434

    Frozen mud latte

    Thanks for the reply NateHawk.

    My guess is things are OK. I get off the trail when it starts to get tacky. I understand what you are saying about water not draining through the deeper frozen soil, and am not looking for an excuse to make ruts in the mud.

    The stuff I'm riding in is a frozen mud/ice/air froth that is (I think) the result of ice crystals freezing out of the mud, then partially melting out when the temperature rises. When this stuff re-freezes you get frozen mud latte. I suspect that the tracks I'm leaving will simply disappear into the general subsidence of the froth surface as it melts and the air escapes from the non-crunched surface next to my tracks.

    I'll be maintaining the trail that I rode on, so if something odd shows up this spring I'll post again.

    Walt

Members who have read this thread: 0

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.