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I recently discovered that a friend of mine has not 20 acres of forested land (as I had previously thought) but actually 110 acres including adjacent plots owned by his wife's family. Having been given the go-ahead to build trails on all 110 acres, we started the work today. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of raking this summer. I'll post some pics once we get it looking somewhat decent. All in all I hope to end up with about 4-6 miles of nice singletrack. As a bonus I've discovered that building trails is somewhat fun on its own.
 

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Mighty Drop Off said:
I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of raking this summer.
The majority of my trail building lately has been rake and ride. It's so easy, the hardest part is just figuring out the flow, my stuff seems to be a little tight when it's new.

We're stashing lamberton rakes out in the developmental areas, i.e. ride out to the end of the trail where the tool awaits a quick session. I'm blown away about how perfect they are for the conditions I work in. It's nice to get a variety of models also, but the imba one is the one.
 

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Yep, trail building is a blast. Riding a trail you cut is even better.

One of the biggest mistakes in building is making corners that are too tight. They always look fine while walking or working on them, but then when you jump on your bike they are too tight and lack flow. Some tight tech stuff is cool, but if it's in the wrong places it can blow.

2nd biggest mistake is no water drainage. Real trails have a tread cut into them with rolling grade dips and other drainage aids, not just raked out. But that is a ton of work if you don't have a group of people.

Have a blast with it! I wish I had 110 acres to play with.
 

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the wrench
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if plannned correctly and as long as the geographics of the land allow 110 acres is enough to make 15-20 miles worth of loops and ajoining trails.
 

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Mighty Drop Off said:
I recently discovered that a friend of mine has not 20 acres of forested land (as I had previously thought) but actually 110 acres including adjacent plots owned by his wife's family. Having been given the go-ahead to build trails on all 110 acres, we started the work today. I have a feeling I'll be doing a lot of raking this summer. I'll post some pics once we get it looking somewhat decent. All in all I hope to end up with about 4-6 miles of nice singletrack. As a bonus I've discovered that building trails is somewhat fun on its own.
Good luck!

Yes it's fun, and my problematic knee likes it better, but I'm not going ot give up riding....

There is a lot of good free info via IMBA and some good publications available at a moderate cost if you want to learn how to build specific things.
 

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beer thief
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I commend you on your selection of tools. The basic McLeod is my favorite, but I'm hoping to buy one of Shulaski's collapsable mini-macs with some grant money this summer. I do like the looks of that wide Lamberton; should probably add one of those to the quiver also.

Flow is hard to predict while on foot. I find that running through a section as fast as you can helps give a feel for whether it'll be too tight on a bike.
 

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radair said:
I do like the looks of that wide Lamberton; should probably add one of those to the quiver also.
That's the 12 inch IMBA rake there, it has to be the most versatile effecient tool ever. My personal philosophy now is, if you need more tool than that, reconsider the route. My route finding has also now got me looking for the path of least of resistance.

The 12 inch rakes are perfect single track width, the imba model is heavier and the wide flat surface is great for compacting, the lighter weight of the regular 12 inch rake is better suited for raking and light duty chopping and dirt moving.

I've been giving some thought to making a collapsible handle, but once they are stashed in the woods it's no longer an issue. I've had no problem carrying one on my pack either.

Since getting those rakes we've added more miles of quality single track in the last few months, than we've created in many years. It's too bad we didn't figure things out sooner.
 

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Over the last three years, me and pals have built about 6 miles of new trail. All I have ever used to this point was a good bow saw, pruners, a small spade when needed, and a regular 'iron' rake. I have never seen a rake such as that and will be combing the local stores to find one FOR SURE! That thing is a beast. Be careful not to disturb too much dirt while raking though. I've found that the trail is better initially, and easier to get broke in if the dirt is left alone. We started out actually raking in every bit of trail. They are nice now, but it took a really long time to break them in, as well as a long time to build.

Flow...not enough can be said about the flow of a trail. Some of the guys I ride/build with like the tight, twisty stuff, but I actually find it to be kind of a waste of the land. Yes, more trail is ridable in the end, but if you can't really enjoy what you're riding, why build it. We have kind of an unwritten rule about trail building, in that whomever begins a trail and has the initial route down, no one really says too much about the route. We have enough land available to suit most everyone's tastes...well, you simply can't have enough land. Albeit, 110 acres is a lot. I think we are sitting on about 150 or so. 65 acres are public park, and the remaining portion is on private land that was secured through a new pal simply asking a church group for permission. We treat that area with kid gloves.

Good luck!! I'm on a hunt for a Lamberton today!
 

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wow that is nice. Getting to make your own trail. Keep us posted on this, i want to see the finished product. You guys are very lucky. I once made my own dirt jumps on gov property in a forest, and im telling you, wow, it was so much fun, made them 2 seaons in a row. Until i got bored of it and moved up to MTB.
 

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Witty McWitterson
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Yep, there's nothing like getting out in the woods and snaking a trail through there. IMO, a well built trail enhances the experience of the woods. We all know that here. Problem is, I have a local park that is 8500+ acres. Its huge. The managers idea of a MTB trail is an old logging access road. The horses get the sweet singletrack. WTF? [rolleyes] They're starting up a trail steward program that I hope to be a leader of. After proving myself, and my skills, I hope to tralk them into letting me design and build some MTB specific singeltrack. I've found some sections of the reserve that would be perfect for a nice flowy trail.
 

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Currently in Exile
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Great to see all of the trailbuilding passion

I too am working on a trail on some private land near Minot, ND. We have just about got the trail laid out and will be ready to actually start cutting it in in the near future. I only wish that I could make a trail by simply "raking" it. Unfortunately, I will be building on prairie lands, some of which have never seen a plow. I will have to use Pulaskis to cut through the sod. Hopefully, things will go somewhat smoothly.

Also, while concentrating on flow, you want to be concious of the flow of water. Remember to include lots of grade reversals and avoid building trail that just goes straight up or down a hill. If you build a "fall line" trial, you will find yourself working on it again in a few years.
 

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FISHLEG said:
Yep, trail building is a blast. Riding a trail you cut is even better.

One of the biggest mistakes in building is making corners that are too tight. They always look fine while walking or working on them, but then when you jump on your bike they are too tight and lack flow. Some tight tech stuff is cool, but if it's in the wrong places it can blow.

2nd biggest mistake is no water drainage. Real trails have a tread cut into them with rolling grade dips and other drainage aids, not just raked out. But that is a ton of work if you don't have a group of people.
excellent advice. I agree 100% and would add that 3d biggest mistake is failing to do at least a half-bench trail bed, especially problematic when you're cutting trail on a side slope contour. people start sloughing downslope when they lose traction and all of a sudden your nice narrow singletrack is a friggin' jeep road.

4th biggest mistake is failing to take the humus/decomp down to mineral soil. if you fail to do this, be prepared for irregular almost greasy traction situations, strange sponginess that sucks your energy, and constant erosion and soil sloughing.

laying out a trail for good flow is difficult. to find decent traction lines, look for game trails already walked in by local deer, elk, moose, etc.

as to drainage, if you're in a rocky area, french drains work very well.
 

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airwreck said:
That's the 12 inch IMBA rake there, it has to be the most versatile effecient tool ever. My personal philosophy now is, if you need more tool than that, reconsider the route. My route finding has also now got me looking for the path of least of resistance.
that might be true where you live and build trail, but in western Montana, the fire rake (that's what IMBA's tool is, a fire rake) is NOT enough tool. pulaskis are absolutely required, as are pick adzes.

as to trail bed width, absolutely on the money with the rake being a great indicator.
 

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beer thief
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gonzostrike said:
... that's what IMBA's tool is, a fire rake...
Nah, this is a fire rake (also a great tool). But we're probably talking semantics, as McLeods were also originally designed for firefighting.



gonzostrike said:
... pulaskis are absolutely required, as are pick adzes...
Agreed, here in New England a Pulaski is a must.
 

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sheesh, another regionalism come home to roost. according to the USFS guys I have borrowed tools from, fire rakes don't look anything like what you posted, man. at least not the ones that the USFS uses out of Missoula.

but then again, out here people put ranch dressing on their PIZZA (not me, I think that's disgusting) and so regionalisms have their own illogic. ;)

my buddy has had a welder make something like that IMBA tool / "fire rake" in a much burlier form, weighs about 15 lbs, sorta does away with some of the lighter-duty pulaski/pick adze work. he even sharpens the triangular tines on a grinding wheel. crazy.
 

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Lamberton has a website, order direct.

I've done plenty of trail building where the trail rake wouldn't have cut it, I'm enjoying working in an area now that is perfect for it.

The ultimate flow inducing device? Many people won't like this, but it's a motorcycle, in the right hands of course.

It's cool to think about the changes in my trail building attitude and techniques over the years, attribute it to riding equipment improvements, but I am now more focused on utilizing natural terrain features and reducing the amount of terrain alteration.

Yep, even though I am, um, aging, I want trails that are more radical and flowing. I want to keep hikers and horses off the trail by making them too gnarly for them. But I still like to try work out fun uphills.
 

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~martini~ said:
The managers idea of a MTB trail is an old logging access road.
sounds familiar.
We brought the IMBA rep over, state paid for that, and I'm on the trail advisory council for the state. After the IMBA training we thought progress had been made. Wrong, our newest state built multi use trail is nothing more than an old logging road that they're spending months to clear of debris. It is literally straight up, in a forest that gets 100+ inches of rain a year. It's embarassing and has discouraged people from showing up for the volunteer trail days.
 

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airwreck said:
The ultimate flow inducing device? Many people won't like this, but it's a motorcycle, in the right hands of course.

It's cool to think about the changes in my trail building attitude and techniques over the years, attribute it to riding equipment improvements, but I am now more focused on utilizing natural terrain features and reducing the amount of terrain alteration.

Yep, even though I am, um, aging, I want trails that are more radical and flowing. I want to keep hikers and horses off the trail by making them too gnarly for them. But I still like to try work out fun uphills.
same here. I'd much rather let the deer and elk work in a trail for me. they tend to take fun lines anyway. and I see no point in building a 3-foot-wide sidewalk that is so wide it has no technical challenge and therefore the trail goes by way too quickly, your ride is over, and you think "I don't really have an opinion on that trail, it was too bland and over too quickly."

if the trail doesn't make you think twice about your technique every 100 feet or so it's really too boring for my taste.
 
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