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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So me and one or two friends think it would be an awesome idea to go and build a trail, out in our local forest. we scoped out the perfect place and were stoked to do it. The date came up and we practicly sprinted out there we were so excited. But after 5 hours of building we were no more than a half a mile into it. Feeling discouraged we vowed to finish. But is there anything we could do to speed up this process? We had shovels and shears, felt prepared through out the day but it was slow going. Any tips?

anything and everything would be much appreciated thanks
 

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featherweight clydesdale
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woodsrider2 said:
So me and one or two friends think it would be an awesome idea to go and build a trail, out in our local forest. we scoped out the perfect place and were stoked to do it. The date came up and we practicly sprinted out there we were so excited. But after 5 hours of building we were no more than a half a mile into it. Feeling discouraged we vowed to finish. But is there anything we could do to speed up this process? We had shovels and shears, felt prepared through out the day but it was slow going. Any tips?

anything and everything would be much appreciated thanks
Who owns this "local forest" i.e. do you/your family own it or did you get permission for your trail? This is really the most important part of building the trail. You don't want to put all that work into it only to have it "disappear".

You can typically figure 10-15 feet per hour per person if you're building good quality full bench trail. Shovels and clippers are typically accessory tools, not primary tools. Look into a Pulaski or Mattock and a McLeod.
 

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I concur with Fattirewilly, you really want to try to find opportunities to build sanctioned trails on approved property. Once you do that, to build proper trails that will stand against erosion and time, search and look up how to build IMBA spec trails. Yes, it does take time to build hand built trails and the IMBA website has a ton of information to help speed up the process.
 

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Terrain Sculptor
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Fattirewilly said:
You can typically figure 10-15 feet per hour per person if you're building good quality full bench trail. Shovels and clippers are typically accessory tools, not primary tools. Look into a Pulaski or Mattock and a McLeod.
I build by hand.

It doesn't seem to matter what type of trail I'm building, Cobblestone, wood, cut bench or causeway. Over several days, I'll get about 15 feet an hour. I spent years experimenting with tools to speed up the process. It still works out to that magic number.

Pulaski, McLeod, shovel, rake (landscape or leveling rake), bowsaw, loppers or machete. I can usually live without the shovel but the rest are required tools for me.

One trick I have is to sharpen the blade on the McLeod before I start work for the day, Use it to chop brush until it gets dull then use it to cut and shape ground.
 

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Fattirewilly said:
I think you'll get more response to this after some of us get a few beers in.
Yeah, I wouldn't call some of those trails he posted as being anywhere near sustainable.

OP, "don't flag, rake, ride" unless you truly have the right location and conditions. Read the IMBA info, buy the IMBA trail building book and read it. Listen when the others say to build the trail correctly the first time. There is a lot to learn about trail building and it takes time. The best advice would be to find your closest mountain bike club that does trail maintenance in the area. Do a few work days with them, and then start working on your own trail.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
wow thanks for all the help and advice, i will take it all into consideration, i didn't even know some of those tools existed, so that was good, IMBA is a world of info and a very good resource that is new to me and will most likely lead to many new adventurers. On the last post, i live in a small town with one bike shop, and it's pretty lame(Some of the workers don't even ride) and the closest ive come across to a club is an old man i met on the trails (very nice) who told me he built a couple in his younger days.
 

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woodsrider2 said:
wow thanks for all the help and advice, i will take it all into consideration, i didn't even know some of those tools existed, so that was good, IMBA is a world of info and a very good resource that is new to me and will most likely lead to many new adventurers. On the last post, i live in a small town with one bike shop, and it's pretty lame(Some of the workers don't even ride) and the closest ive come across to a club is an old man i met on the trails (very nice) who told me he built a couple in his younger days.
I checked your profile to see what your location was. You have to have some prime building spots there. Check on your regional forum here on mtbr for more information as well. I imagine that there are a lot of people building out there that would be willing to at least help you out with region specific tips.

I notice US 30 runs through your town. I live close enough to 30 to hear the traffic at night, however I am on the other side of the country. :) Thought it was an odd coincidence.
 

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tcstoned said:
That soon to be gully has been around for two plus years.
Good luck, hope it continues to hold together.

It looks like fall-line trail from the angle the photo is taken. If so, it's still a problem waiting to happen, depending on how much hillside above it feeds runoff onto the trail.

Nothing wrong with Rake 'N Ride in the right spot, but those places tend to be pretty limited. I'm in the process of re-routing a bunch of trail laid out by eye (instead of by using a clinometer). It held together for 3-4 years. Then we got some unusually heavy rains, and suddenly the trail became the local runoff streambed.

Now that the erosion process is established, the topsoil is going away at the rate of 2-4" a year on average. People who don't ride the trail a lot don't see a problem and don't want the trail re-routed, so it's hard to get support for the re-work. I fear that someone in the state parks division may decide we aren't acting in good faith as stewards of the land and make an issue of it. If you are building on your own land, you only have to answer to yourself. But I'd take the time to do it right if it was mine.

Best wishes
Walt
 

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tcstoned said:
That soon to be gully has been around for two plus years.
Two years is really not much. What will it look like in 10 or 20 years? You can already see from the photo that the users are impacting a tread width already twice as wide as the trail section below which does right and follows the contour of the hill. They're already trying to pick an easier way up and down, increasing the surface area for the run-off. In 10 years it will look like someone has been driving a Jeep up and down that section. Also, that run-off is pointed right at a creek, making it worse than just some hill in the woods. The short cuts now will create a lot more work for others in the future. I know because I've been chasing problems all over a "12 pack and leaf blower" built park for 5 years now. The trails are only 15 years old.

Photo - 1, not bad, lots of folks are drawn to a water feature. The trail looks to have drainage both right and left, so a good rake/ride candidate. Best practices though would likely buffer the creek by benching into the hillside on the right and creating a spur trail or two over to the creek for access or a sitting area.

Photo - 2, basically another fall line trail. It exceeds half the steepness of the hillside on which it is located. Water will focus to the channel. The trail could take a more diagonal line across the hill or you could armor what you have with some nearby rock. If you armor, make sure the trail is "choked" (bigger rocks scattered beyond the trail edge) so that people stay on the armor instead of braiding in a new parallel trail in the dirt.

Photo 3: hard to tell. It sorta looks like the spot where the bike is, is a low area that might be problematic for holding water. Further down, the trail looks to be in a ditch or lacking outslope on the left side.
 

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That last piece of trail might hold if it has enough rock in it and there's minimal runoff comimng off the surounding area, but most likely it will gradually dish out and continue to funnel more water, especially if bikers are inclined ot skid before that turn. It might take a couple of "ten year rain events" to really show significant erosion. I remember a trail crew foreman that used to say he wanted eveything built to last 200 years. If it looked like it was only going to last 100, he'ld have the crew start over.
 

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The biggest problem with the rake and ride method of building trail is that it only works well on flat sections or on steep sections going directly down hillsides. If you try to rake in a contouring trail along a hillside of any steepness, the bikes will just slide sideways down the hillside. By the time the trail is sufficiently steep descending the hillside to eliminate the sliding, it is usually well in violation of the half rule.
 

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I will post some more pics later for you guys to critique. I am not saying the trails are perfect. When a problem arises it is either fixed or rerouted. Also the rake method has worked on sidehills for me. The trail naturally benches in, I guess you may need to be more of a skilled rider. I only responded to the thread to say there are many ways to build trail.
 

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tcstoned said:
I will post some more pics later for you guys to critique. I am not saying the trails are perfect. When a problem arises it is either fixed or rerouted. Also the rake method has worked on sidehills for me. The trail naturally benches in, I guess you may need to be more of a skilled rider. I only responded to the thread to say there are many ways to build trail.
The idea is that you don't have problems arising that need to be fixed or rerouted.

Where does riding skill come into a trail "naturally" benching in? Do you toe a plow? Cause I don't know if I have the stamina or skill to do that for too long.
 
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