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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have noticed how the same people complaining about damaging the trails by riding them in wet/winter weather are the same one's posting
on here?
No one has done any trail maint. all winter and now the trails are in great shape??? How can this be??? Lots of people rode them this winter, so am I to assume that they were not damaged as they were thought to be???? And that would mean that
these
people did not know what they were talking about?? Surely not.
They must have fixed theirselves.
 

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I think trails dry out. And become more rideable than they were when wet. Conditions like the last 2 weeks would be prime time for this.

But I don't think a cupped tread on a trail is going to fix itself unless someone takes a tool to it and removes the lower edge and allows water to exit the low side.

But a wet, rutted trail that is cupped, holds water when the trees are dormant.....will eventually dry out and become "good to ride". Especially if one likes it technical. Over time, it will most likely loss it's singletrackness as folks seek out less rooty/gullied lines to ride up.

What do you mean by "do trails fix themselves?" Yes, they dry out. If that is what you mean, we agree. If you mean that a fall line trail will lose its rut....no. That a cupped tread will all the sudden start shedding water....no. But when it is dry and has been for weeks...these things matter less.

Does that make sense?
 

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yes, I believe there are trail elves that fix things up so we can ride again each new year, hence the term theirselves, although occasionally someone might see them and you think the are saying 'there's elves!" but really the proper term is 'theirselves!"
 

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Yes, I think the trails fix theirselves and here is the reasons why:

1 - They live in the forest and know how it works. Being on the ground all that time gives them lots of practical experience.

2 - It is in their own best interest to fix theirselves. Self preservation is the most basic instinct.

3 - Just like the rest of us they have just been sitting around bored all winter. I'm as sure as soon as the snow was melted they were more than ready to start fixing theirselves.

4 - They like it when we ride them. Everybody wants to be loved and nobody loves a crappy trail!
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ridn29s said:
yes, I believe there are trail elves that fix things up so we can ride again each new year, hence the term theirselves, although occasionally someone might see them and you think the are saying 'there's elves!" but really the proper term is 'theirselves!"
:lol: I think I have actually said " There's Elves" while riding before:D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
driftwood said:
Yes, I think the trails fix theirselves and here is the reasons why:

1 - They live in the forest and know how it works. Being on the ground all that time gives them lots of practical experience.

2 - It is in their own best interest to fix theirselves. Self preservation is the most basic instinct.

3 - Just like the rest of us they have just been sitting around bored all winter. I'm as sure as soon as the snow was melted they were more than ready to start fixing theirselves.

4 - They like it when we ride them. Everybody wants to be loved and nobody loves a crappy trail!
What kind of mushrooms have you been picking?????
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I'm not working today and I rode last night.....so I'm just looking for a fight today.
 

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motobutane said:
I'm not working today and I rode last night.....so I'm just looking for a fight today.
I wish I could have ridden today but the worker elves were piling it on (a condition known as workorelse (aka 'workerelves'). I rode Bennett yesterday. The elves must have been on that trail already, it was in fine shape.
 

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Perhaps the better way to phrase the question would have been "Does trail damage heal over without trail maintenance efforts?".

In some cases the answer is yes, but in most cases the answer would be no.

As trails dry out, damage that was caused by users may heal itself in the right soil conditions. DuPont has great mix soil in many areas of the forest and can heal up with traffic as moisture content in soils is reduced (after freeze/thaw cycles, wind has a drying effect due to evaporative air movement). Heavy clay based soils are less likely to have this same effect.

It also depends on how much damage was done when the tread was wet and therefore fragile. I can share photos of footprints and bike tire prints in Adobe clays out west that set up as hard as a rock and the damage is more permanent.

This is the first year in many that we have had a bad mud season, but other areas with more serious winters know this all too well. Venture away from the NC/SC forum here on MTBR and you will find lots of discussion:
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=679509

http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=682674

Do trails torn to shreds by horses "heal themselves", no. Do trails damaged by mountain bikers riding in wet conditions heal themselves, maybe but in some cases no.

Do trails with water based erosion problems (because they are fall line or have bad water management) heal themselves, definitely not. Our violent rain storm yesterday (1.5" in about 45 minutes here at my house) did lots of trail damage and some level of sedimentation of local water ways resulted. Trace Ridge did not heal itself yesterday.

Woody
 

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Deer Lake Lodge Trail in Bent Creek

These are before the recent work photos of conditions on the Deer Lake Lodge Trail in Bent Creek during a normal summer time afternoon rain storm.

This poorly designed road adopted as a trail under the powerlines (open to the sky and full force of water falling at fast speed) was not going to "heal itself" and in fact was dumping tons of sediment into the nearby waterway (Wolf Branch).

Water (and the sediment it was carrying) was coming off of the powerline road, turning the corner on the flat section of road and continuing all the way to the bridge near the junction with Wolf Branch Trail (also really an old timber extraction road). The water then dropped off the bridge and into the creek below dumping tons of sediment into the water and having a very negative impact on natural resources.

The USFS decided to do maintenance work on this trail and Trail Dynamics performed the work back in the fall and we received mostly positive feedback from posters here on MTBR and great reviews from the USFS: http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=648531

The new tread was not fully compacted before the freeze/thaw cycle hit this winter and an especially hard winter with lots of snow and cold temps provided for fragile conditions and riders did not stay off the trail during this time. Some of the damage will heal through mtn bike traffic now that things are drying up, and some of the damage will not due to the heavy clay content and extent (deepness) of tire ruts.
 

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More photos of the same general area, this is the bottom end of Wolf Branch Trail.

Wolf Branch received a lot of work in 2006 by Pisgah SORBA including a National Trails Event with over 75 folks. Lots of good work was done that day including replacing 4 bridges that were all about to collapse.

You can clearly see the sediment loading of the creek at this location.
 

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Severe Erosion

This old roadbed down in Hickory Nut Gorge is fall line, wide, has no water management and exhibits severe erosion. No, this "trail" will not fix itself.
 

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Campground Connector

The Campground Connector trail in Bent Creek is very flat and wide and has clay based soils. This can be a problem is wet periods as the photos here exhibit. Mountain bike tires left notable tracks and the area continued to widen as some riders avoided the mud. The trail damage is one aspect, but the social damage is perhaps a bigger problem. Hikers, land managers and anti- mountain biker types can use these types of photos to point to this type of tread damage and fuel the flames that bikes cause excessive damage on trails.

No, this trail did not fix itself. I am not sure who or when it was done, but the solution was a gavel mix to amend the clay soils and prevent future damage.
 

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Burnt Mtn Trail in DuPont

The below photo shows serious erosion (water based and user caused) on the Burnt Mtn Trail. We put in the locust drops that were re-enforced drain dips many years back. Too much soil movement meant these dips filled in with sediment and water continued to run long distances down the trail and cause further damage.

Trail Dynamics did a "road to trail" conversion to the climbing side of the Burnt Mtn under contract and were able to do machine work about 1/2 of the way down on the steep drops side of the loop. Forest Supervisor David Brown wanted to relocate this steep section of trail and put it on a more mellow and sustainable grade. I convinced him that with a lot of rock armoring, we could stabilize the trail in the current location. With TD planning/design and project management of SORBA volunteers, this was a no cost solution to a real problem.
 

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Problem solved, but no trail elves

Photos of the Burnt Mtn Trail during the rock armoring work. Trail Dynamics volunteered our machines to get tons of rock close to the bottom of the steep section and we also provided over-all project management of volunteers. We hosted 3-4 SORBA workdays in 2008 to do the needed rock armoring work and a road to trail conversion on the very last section of trail.

Volunteers worked very hard on this project as the photos show. Moving heavy rock by hand is not fun or easy, but we had large turn outs and the workdays went well. Locust logs and other 6x6 timbers were used to frame in what I call "full box armoring". The locust and 6x6 timbers were also not light to move into place, I am sure there were a few sore shoulders at the end of this volunteer workday.

Burnt Mountain Trail is a classic and has not changed much since this work was done. It should serve as a good example of taking a slope ditch eroded old timber extraction route and turning it into a sustainable and yet technical trail that no longer has negative impacts on the wonderful forest that the trail runs through.

No, this trail did not fix itself. Hard working volunteers managed by a professional trail contractor fixed the trail.
 

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