Trail Maintenance

Trails are usually part of larger systems that are the result of careful and diligent planning and collaboration and should take environmental and geographical factors into account, such as its: location, soil, climate, and main purpose.

While land managers and other administrators are ultimately responsible for planning and maintaining trails, committed trail users and climbers have important roles to play as well.

  1. Get the Landowner / Manager Approval – Talk to the landowner / manager, show your plan and get their approval. Asking for permission is much better than asking for forgiveness.
  2. Survey the area. Plan your trail around the land’s natural features: go around thorny bushes, avoid wet spots, take advantage of ridges. If possible, route trails to positive control points (viewpoints, water, other attractions).
  3. Take advantage of existing paths made by animals or people; they often indicate the best route through the land.
  4. Avoid erosion – create trails that follow contour lines. Do not over contour, so you motivate people to actually follow the trail; avoid the Fall Line as it turbo-charges natural and user-created erosion, exposing rocks and roots, creating gullies and damaging the ecosystem; on steep inclines, create lumber hammered or stone steps to reinforce the trail and aid on traction.
  5. Make sure it can drain properly, keep the water off the path.
  6. Motivate users to stay on trail with proper signs and maintenance.
  7. Think sustainability – Make sure to cause the minimal impact possible: producing negligible soil loss or movement, allowing vegetation to grow, and with minimum disturbance of the area’s wildlife.

Check the following pages and documents for useful information:

Trail Maintenance

View images of trail maintenance examples.

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