Solo Trail Maintenance

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Solo Trail Maintenance

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    • #104781

      Someone had mentioned wondering what they could do on their own as far as trail maintenance so I thought I’d put together a small list of tools and things you can easily do on your own to improve existing trails when none of your lazy friends will come help you. 😆

      1. Grab a pair of bypass hand pruners and walk or ride the trail until something hits you,then cut it off.I actually try to cut anything that is easily reachable by swinging my arm in a circle,this way it clears things at handlebar and head height where you are the widest and tallest while riding the trail.

      2. Use nature to control nature.If you have a big patch of thorn bushes growing onto the trail,don’t kill yourself by trying to get it with hand pruners or even loppers,grab a big dead branch and push it back off the trail with the branch and then just drop it to keep them off the trail.Then you can cut the excess parts off without bleeding so much.

      3.Any bridges missing boards? Bring a tape measure one time and see how wide the board was,then at home,cut one to replace it and pack it and a couple nails and a hammer next ride and replace it.

      4."Encourage" natural berms.I like to take a plastic leaf rake and smooth out small natural berms that start to build up by cross raking them to the outside.By cross raking I simply mean to cross your previous rake strokes.This makes sure there are no bumps in the berm,and also moves the loose dirt to the outside to create more of a berm.Stomp down the loose dirt towards the outside and ride if a few times to pack it down.

      I’ll get pics and continue adding to the thread,if anyone has any other suggestions please throw them in here,the more experience we can get in one place the better!

    • #104782

      Very cool idea for a topic. I look forward to your additions.

      One thought of mine:
      After periods of rain, If there’s a corner or low spot of the trail where water is pooling, you can dig an edge out of the pool of water to get it to drain down the low side. If there’s nothing handy to dig with, you can pull your front tire off and drag it lightly from the edge of the pool and create a drain. This will keep the area from becoming a mud pit.

    • #104783

      Nice addition GALAXY,we’ll have to make Solo Trail Maint. a sticky I think as soon as I ( or somone else)get’s a chance…

    • #104784

      Sure, encourage berms, but only when they are in a spot where they’ll still drain water well. If it’s in a place where it will keep the water from exiting the trail, then it’s bad and will lead to major mud and erosion issues. Much of what we do when I got to trail maintenance work parties is actually called "deberming." Blog post coming on some trail maintenance techniques soon.

      One of the best things you can do if you’re by yourself is clearing down trees on the trail. You’ll be surprised how much debris you can move by hand or with a small handsaw. Check out this blog post I wrote about it a while ago here:

      http://www.gregridestrails.com/2010/10/ … ork-2.html

      Nice addition GALAXY,we’ll have to make Solo Trail Maint. a sticky I think as soon as I ( or somone else)get’s a chance…

      It might be more effective to just add a link to this post to the sticky that already exists?

    • #104785

      Of the 2 berms I have been messing with,one is on a slope and will drain,the other one may collect some water in one small spot but I’ll fix that when it rains again,the ground is very dry and hard to work right now.

    • #104786
      "mtbgreg1" wrote

      One of the best things you can do if you’re by yourself is clearing down trees on the trail. You’ll be surprised how much debris you can move by hand or with a small handsaw. Check out this blog post I wrote about it a while ago here:

      http://www.gregridestrails.com/2010/10/ … ork-2.html

      Nice job on your blog. Moving sticks and branches is easy, but often ignored.

      A couple of valuable tools that fit in your pack.
      Image

      The clippers are available at Home Depot for about $25. Great to remove eye level branches. Always clip back to the bowl of the tree or a fork in the branch. Don’t want to leave a spear for somebody to find the hard way. Clips ground level stuff to the ground too so you don’t leave a tire spear.

    • #104787
      "CraigCreekRider" wrote

      [quote="mtbgreg1":tpzl0sth]
      One of the best things you can do if you’re by yourself is clearing down trees on the trail. You’ll be surprised how much debris you can move by hand or with a small handsaw. Check out this blog post I wrote about it a while ago here:

      http://www.gregridestrails.com/2010/10/ … ork-2.html

      Nice job on your blog. Moving sticks and branches is easy, but often ignored.[/quote:tpzl0sth]

      Thanks man, I’m glad you liked it!

      "mtbgreg1" wrote

      Nice addition GALAXY,we’ll have to make Solo Trail Maint. a sticky I think as soon as I ( or somone else)get’s a chance…

      It might be more effective to just add a link to this post to the sticky that already exists?

      I added a link to this thread to the existing sticky for now.

    • #104788
      "schwim" wrote

      Very cool idea for a topic. I look forward to your additions.

      One thought of mine:
      After periods of rain, If there’s a corner or low spot of the trail where water is pooling, you can dig an edge out of the pool of water to get it to drain down the low side. If there’s nothing handy to dig with, you can pull your front tire off and drag it lightly from the edge of the pool and create a drain. This will keep the area from becoming a mud pit.

      I meant to reply to this the other day,and thank you man….I believe it was Johneblz that mentioned going out alone that made me want to start this.I like the tire idea if you don’t have any tools.

      We had a low spot on the trail that turned into a mud pit last year and I really wasn’t into trying to fix it at the time but now I would.Someone tried to fill it in with pieces of branches and they just floated around and made it even worse.I did fill one in before a log crossing earlier this year and it seems to have done the job but it really hasn’t been as wet since then so I’m not sure,feels better though.

    • #104789

      If you do it properly, breaking off branches into short length and stacking them in the mud to form a sort of bridge is a good quick fix for filling in low spots in the trail. Not sure if it’s IMBA recommended or not, but I have seen it done many different places, mainly on mountain biking-focused trails.

    • #104790
      "mtbgreg1" wrote

      If you do it properly, breaking off branches into short length and stacking them in the mud to form a sort of bridge is a good quick fix for filling in low spots in the trail. Not sure if it’s IMBA recommended or not, but I have seen it done many different places, mainly on mountain biking-focused trails.

      Awesome idea, and we have done this many times, especially in the DJ’s, but the land owner frowns on us using non-natural building. Wait a minute, what part of non-natural is wood…. 😆

      They will rip the wood out of the dirt, and boy does that piss us off. 😕

    • #104791
      "Bonsai-CP" wrote

      They will rip the wood out of the dirt, and boy does that piss us off. 😕

      Man that’s got to be frustrating…. and no, that doesn’t make any sense!! :?: :?:

    • #104792
      "mtbgreg1" wrote

      [quote="Bonsai-CP":1veg3sct]
      They will rip the wood out of the dirt, and boy does that piss us off. 😕

      Man that’s got to be frustrating…. and no, that doesn’t make any sense!! :?: :?:[/quote:1veg3sct]
      Yes, that is very frustrating, and I have laid down my tools because of that quite a few times. What pisses us off the worst is when we get done building DJ’s or transitions for our drops, they will tear the wood out of the dirt. We will utilize tree limbs or wood laying around to pile up so we will not have to use so much dirt, and of course it makes the DJ’s and landings so much stronger and easier to work if erosion hampers them. Some of the riders utilize carpets for erosion control, which works great, but the land owner does not like that. The carpets I understand, but the wood I could never understand. It is natural as natural can get. Its not like we are building northshore type skinnies and bridges, though we used to have that out there years ago…. 😄

      Go figure!… 😕

    • #104793

      For wet spots I would look for rock in the area and armour the spot. Logs will last just a few years in a damp area and leave organic matter or another words, future deeper mud. dig and berry them about half way, extra dirt fill in the cracks.

      Another thing is to clear drains in wet/damp areas. Basically use a rack or something else (ok I have used sticks and my feet) to get the leaves, pine needles etc away so water can drain from the spot. The key is to rake far enough down hill so water cannot back up into the trail.

      Last thing which really pisses me off. Trash, let it be wrappers, water bottles or tubes. Easy enough to stop and pick it up.

    • #104794

      In my opinion deberming is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a trail. All trails will form berms with usage. I agree with mtbgreg1 that berms that hold water in the tread should be removed. This is usually a labor intensive procedure that involves cutting out the downhill berm to restore the correct outslope and requires larger hand tools.

      If you want to get a ride in as you survey the trail for maintenance issues follow the advice of CraigCreekRider and bring some smaller tools in your pack. Any proper maintenance done to a trail, no matter how small, helps everyone in the end.

    • #104795

      Great thread.

      Trails in our part of Idaho are basically of two types. In the valleys they are dry, sage covered hills. Maintenance is usually pruning overhanging sage back and repairing cow impact damage. Up in the mountains, maintenance is clearing deadfall (we cleared deadfall from over 120 miles of trail this year alone) and basic water diversion.

      I usually carry one of, or both of, these tools on every ride…they are both light-weight and small, yet very effective for their size.

      This Japanese Pruning Saw kicks ass on pruning sagebrush and trees up to about 12" in diameter.

      Image
      You can find these for $35-$40 and the blades are replaceable. About half the price, and half the weight, of a similar sized Stihl folding saw. On rides where we have these saws and a chainsaw…we often get the tree cut and cleared before the sawyer has the saw unpacked (more on this below)…we pride ourselves on clearing quickly to frustrate the sawyer!

      The Yard Butler TT-4T Hand Garden Tiller has become essential. These are light-weight and fit in my normal riding pack and cost about $15. It is just a mini-Pulaski that you can swing like a hammer. Image I use the tined side for loosening dirt on existing trail…then foot spread and tamp, so rut repair is a snap and fast. Trail knicks for drainage are quick and easy too. Widening existing trail is basic w/ the blade side. If you are only doing an hour or two of trail maintenance on a bigger ride, this is a great tool.

      We have been build a lengthy re-route and I find myself falling back on the Hand Tiller while others use the bigger tools and can construct 30′-50′ of full bench trail per hour, depending on rocks shrubs.

      Finally we have another essential tool for larger solo (or group) trail clearing efforts. The DaKine Builders Pack. Yeah, carrying a chainsaw is heavy, but so is the stoke of the riders when they hear you opened up a trail that had been clogged w/ deadfall for decades. Great for solo efforts…but great for groups too and you can trade it off to share the heft of carrying the saw. Our local shop passes on their DaKine pro-deal to us because they know the results are worth it. There was a blog postabout this pack a couple years ago.

      Keep flying solo!

    • #104796

      Check out the Trail Boss. Sectional/packable trail tool w/ a bunch of heads…
      [list:3kj5w4xr]A couple of Mattocks
      Pruning Saw
      McLeod
      Shovel
      and a Rogue head…[/list:u:3kj5w4xr]

      It is pricey, but pretty sweet.

      ImageImage

    • #104797

      That’s pretty dam cool!

    • #104798

      I know what is the next tool on my list to buy now! That is just awesome.

    • #104799

      Awesome looking tool!

    • #104800

      Nice!

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