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Hey guys, I live in New England, and while we have some great trails to ride here, I need an opinion on debris cleanup. This Winter/early Spring has been tough on the trails with regards to wind and rain, leaving lots of sticks and branches all over the trails. This is of course mixed with last Fall's leaves that are all over the place. I'm talking branches and mini logs in the 1-3" diameter range, and anywhere from 6 inches to 6 feet long. Many of them are in the pine forest areas since those trees seem to get damaged the most by storms.

My question is, can I go in there and use a leaf rake to get the debris off the trail? Or do I have to pick up each and every stick? Some of the trails we ride are not much fun with all the mini logs littering the trail, and actually a little dangerous. I got pole vaulted off my bike last night while following a friend. He rode over a branch and it literally twisted up and into my spokes - OTB!

I'm thinking if I give it a light rake, so as not to disturb the pine needles and underlying organic material, just clear off the bigger stuff I might be ok. I've seen trails that were raked clean down to the dirt. I'm not sure if that's ok but it would be pretty awesome to ride on.

Thanks!
 

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Kinda depends on which trail system you're talking about but in general I can't see why there would be any problems with judicious use of a rake. Personally, on our local trails, I prefer a leaf-blower run on fairly low throttle for leaves and small debris. Low throttle is key though - I've seen people get carried away and blow like a 5' wide swath.
 
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depends on the sorts of material you're talking about.

if stuff is loose, there's no good reason to leave it be. but there gets to be a point where the debris is too small to be worth the effort unless you're running a blower like slapheadmofo describes.

this past winter was very rough in the Pisgah area, too. we have lots of dead trees with the combination of the southern pine beetle, hemlock wooly adelgid, and the emerald ash borer, and an especially heavy snowfall in December brought down a LOT of trees all at once (including lots of otherwise healthy ones that just couldn't handle the weight of the snow) that took months to clean up (which was even more difficult and time consuming because it happened just before the gov't shutdown). it left lots of debris all over the place.

For a long time, the only real solution was to just be extra careful, and do your part to remove stuff from the trail. I rode around with a hand saw in my pack for months, and only recently removed it...to be reminded yesterday that I should keep it in my pack (3 trees across the trail that impeded traffic, and were the right size for such a saw).
 

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use a longer stick to sweep other sticks off the trail
 

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I love my backpack blower. It will blow most sticks/limbs off the trail along with the leaves. I mix up a gallon of fuel put it in a windshield washer jug and hang it from the chest buckle. Can cover alot of ground fast.
 

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My question is, can I go in there and use a leaf rake to get the debris off the trail? Or do I have to pick up each and every stick?
Our land manager requires a walking physical inspection during the spring when the trails are closed for thawing. Therefore we remove such items at that time.

We also blow 100% of our trails with a backpack blower in the spring as that allows the frost to come out faster without leaves/debris on the trails. A good backpack blower will remove all but the really big/long sticks.
 
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