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Should trails be leaf blown?

  • Blow those leaves off

    Votes: 8 14.8%
  • let them lay

    Votes: 32 59.3%
  • depending on trail(explain in comments)

    Votes: 14 25.9%
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since 4/10/2009
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Leave 'em except in small specific places where there is a clear reason.

For example:

leaves clog drainage, especially culverts of various types and oftentimes also things like grade dips/reversals. clean them out before they compact in and get more difficult to remove.

in places with an awful lot of them and the trail itself is extremely narrow and the forest is open, leaves can obscure the whole trail and you will get LOTS of braiding as people lose the tread and just go through the woods. that sort of thing doesn't mean you have to blow all the leaves off, but maybe it does need some extra work needs to be done to keep the trail corridor as the most obvious path. extra blazes on trees, maybe a little raking to make an obvious line, something.

and realistically, the "obvious line" issues are really only problematic when there are a LOT of leaves that dump suddenly and you have a lightly traveled trail where the leaves don't get compacted as quickly as they fall.

Where I live, we have a lot of oaks and they don't tend to do a big leaf dump. the leaves fall off a lot more slowly, so we don't generally get super thick leaf cover that totally hides the trails. Those oak leaves are pretty durable, though, and they clog drainage structures pretty easily. we don't use culverts, but we use lots of big grade dips. a rake is fine to clean the leaves out if they are what clogs a drainage. but most of them are big enough that the leaves get washed out and what really clogs them up is sediment.

we oftentimes get decent wind throughout the winter, so after the leaves get compacted and pulverized under tires, they get blown off from the wind in most places, anyway. so it generally isn't an issue. plus we have enough trail mileage that even entertaining the idea of larger scale leaf removal gets to be ridiculous.

I DO NOT consider reductions in traction or hiding the roots/rocks to be a valid case for leaf removal. it's mountain biking. trail conditions should be expected to change. riding through leaves that might be wet/slippery is part of riding in the autumn/winter. don't be such a roadie.
 

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Leaves trap moisture. Trails dry faster in the spring if the leaves are blown off in the fall. For that reason alone I think the leaves should be removed from the trails in the fall. That and I don't like how slippery they get and how they hide a feature that may cause a crash.

Buddy of mine sprained his knee this spring wiping out on leaves that IMO should have been cleared last fall.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
I DO NOT consider reductions in traction or hiding the roots/rocks to be a valid case for leaf removal. it's mountain biking. trail conditions should be expected to change. riding through leaves that might be wet/slippery is part of riding in the autumn/winter. don't be such a roadie.
I am going to post a longer verison my thoughts. but I am almost always pro never leaf blowing or raking.

but there are trails around with me "guide" stones. These stones are places on the side of trail to keep people on the trail. This really is not worry if they are small or so large they are basically allways visiable. IMO these stones are places VERY poorly and actually cause far more harm good when it come to trail braiding, trail erosion and how enjoyable the trail is to ride. They present a real danger in leaves when you can not see them as they were not naturally places but artificially placed. They can be high enough that you can clip an inside lifted pedal on them.

its hard to see on this video but you can kind of see all the stones places on apex and entries.


but basically this trail is impossible to ride if the leaves get to couple inches on it.

but honestly IMO the real issue are the guide stone and not the leafs. I have no issue with rocks on the trail being covered with leafs, its artificially places rocks on the side of the trail
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Leaves trap moisture. Trails dry faster in the spring if the leaves are blown off in the fall. For that reason alone I think the leaves should be removed from the trails in the fall. That and I don't like how slippery they get and how they hide a feature that may cause a crash.

Buddy of mine sprained his knee this spring wiping out on leaves that IMO should have been cleared last fall.
eh they do, but they also turn to organic matter which regulates moisture way better mid summer. Trails with a layer of loam tend to not get wet as quick or get dusty in droughts.

Your buddy slipping out on leaves, means he should learn to ride or get spikey tires. Mud spikes in leaves offer velcro level of grip if you want it.
 

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but honestly IMO the real issue are the guide stone and not the leafs. I have no issue with rocks on the trail being covered with leafs, its artificially places rocks on the side of the trail
In addition to guide stones we have left over stumps on some of our trails.
 

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Your buddy slipping out on leaves, means he should learn to ride or get spikey tires. Mud spikes in leaves offer velcro level of grip if you want it.
He know knows how to ride. Probably not going to get spikey tires for the few weeks in spring that leaves are on the trail before the wind blows them away. Just how it is...sometimes slippery leaves wash out the front tire on corners.
 

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Here, the leaves rot and create a mess of muck that clogs all the drainage ditches/holes and everything else, besides the nasty spray they create as they are rotting in place. They create a new layer of dirt/crap that is easily tracked/rutted and that creates puddles and blocks the water from shedding off. It's more work in the spring for us to do. They do not blow or rake the leaves off here, but on some key trails, they really should, it would cut down on our work significantly and not screw the trail up as much (drainage).
 
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On our trails, no leaves is best. Trails are cut into the side of rock hills, narrow, steep exposure, with a floor of rock, loose gravel, and roots. The water drains across the trails due to the steep slopes. Leaves clog drainage, hide obstacles, and are of no real benefit to the surface type we have. The local Ag extension office told our maintenance director that for the amount of loam that the leaves contribute, and the amount of time it takes to turn to loam, it was not useful to leave them on the trail. Again, we have a rock base. Water drains through the trails without much erosion, so loam is not really needed unless you like mud.

We do NOT blow leaves. We gently rake with springsteel. We take every effort to leave as much substrate underneath as possible and only remove the leaves. Otherwise you're just helping erode the trails
 

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The big leaf maple (its a coastal PNW species) leaves get really slippery. The leaves are roughly 10-12 inches in diameter and are wet and slimy in the fall. If they are left on the trail it makes the traction pretty unpredictable.
 

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I dunno, I ate it last fall due to misjudging a drop off with a bunch of leaves, broke my collarbone.
There were a bunch of leaves built up that made a line look rollable, and it was more of a steep drop.

I was OK with leaves up until that point.
 

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In 90% of the circumstances I say leave the leaves. The only time I would like to (but I never have) remove them is in low-lying boulder fields. It can be crazy dangerous when leaves cover a boulder field. It鈥檚 personally sent me over the bars on many occasions over the years. Besides that, I like the way it looks.
 

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A lot of the trails around me in southern NH get blown otherwise they simply disappear under the leaves. Leaves can also accumulate in low spots and make the trails very dangerous because what looks like flat trail is actually an 8" deep rut...
 

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I dunno, I ate it last fall due to misjudging a drop off with a bunch of leaves, broke my collarbone.
There were a bunch of leaves built up that made a line look rollable, and it was more of a steep drop.

I was OK with leaves up until that point.
Same thing happen to a buddy of mine about 10 years (???) back. Leaves had filled in a drop > it swallowed his wheel > he flipped over the bars > broke his collarbone. Still to this day he gets squirrelly when riding during Fall.
 

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This is what a lot of our trails look like right now, and yes, there are wet sniper-roots hidden in there. You hit one of those at the wrong angle and it's like wet ice.


Ecoregion People in nature Natural landscape Wood Trunk


Plant Tree Natural landscape People in nature Wood
 

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Unpredictable traction is an integral & challenging part of PNW fall / winter riding.
=sParty
I just don't ride the trails thru the big leaf maples during the wet fall days, I ride were there's more pines or cedars. Pines are usually at higher elevation that drains better.
 

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This is what a lot of our trails look like right now, and yes, there are wet sniper-roots hidden in there. You hit one of those at the wrong angle and it's like wet ice.


View attachment 1952250

View attachment 1952251
Looks like local trails, in the sense that: if you're a local, you're fine. If you're visiting/riding alone, good luck finding the trail in spots.

That, imo, is the only significant issue with leaf (or snow) cover. That also happens to be, in my opinion, a part of the seasonal changes. Like in normal life, you either learn to enjoy it for what it is, or you get out of wherever it happens for somewhere that it doesn't.
 
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