Did you know that almost 45 million people went hiking in 2017 in the USA?
More and more people realize that hiking is a healthy and enjoyable activity for all the family.
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If you love hiking, but do not have many trails near your home, what can you do? Have you considered learning to build trails yourself?
Why not take a few minutes to read our in-depth article and find out all about trail building.
1. Plan Your Trail
When contemplating how to build a trail, remember the famous saying: “Planning a trail is difficult, building the trail is just muscle”. All the hard work should be done in the preparation stages. Here is where, as far as possible, you will choose your path, face your obstacles, and learn to overcome them.
The actual building of the path is just the application of the principles and decisions that you have already decided upon.
During this stage, it is important to get out there and see what your potential trail locations have to offer. Gather this data and then start planning your trail in front of your computer screen.
2. Make it Interesting
Now that you have an overview of the area that your trail will cross, start looking for beauty spots and other highlights along the way. Of course, you need to ensure that this does not put hikers and bikers in danger. Your trail should be planned in a way that will avoid the risk of physical injury.
However, put yourself in the place of the average hiker with basic hiking equipment, and consider, what would I want to see on this hike?
Hikers love texture on their journey. This means that you should not be afraid to include small stream crossings, slight inclines, and even road crossings. Of course, you want to make sure that your trail will meet legal requirements for road crossings.
3. Areas to Avoid
Of course, there are some definite no-go areas for your trail. Farmers will not appreciate groups of people crossing their active farmland or scaring their animals.
Neither should you encourage people to come too close to wetlands or swampy areas. It may be difficult to predict what the ground will be like underfoot in Spring or Autumn.
If you are in doubt about the ownership of a part of your trail, ensure that you research and ask locally. This will avoid frustration later should a neighbor object.
4. Starting A Trail
Now that you have planned your path and chosen your beauty spots, it is time to get to work.
You will first need to gather the necessary tools in order to make the path. This could include anything from a spade to a chainsaw. It includes basically anything that you will need to move obstacles from your path.
Budget your time and energy well at this point. There would be nothing more frustrating for a hiker than for them to start on a trail only to learn that it had been abandoned halfway.
Good intentions and dreams should be backed up by good planning and time management.
5. Setting the Surface
After you have cleared enough space on your path, you may want to cover the surface of the path with a permanent material that will stop regrowth. This could be gravel, or if you are particularly aware of the environment, wood chips.
You will need to ensure that you start at the farthest point of your trail. That way, when you lay the material, you will not trample over it when you return to fill your wheelbarrow.
It is also essential to consider the condition of the trail throughout the year. You may plan to walk the trail in summer. However, others may walk it in early spring or even winter. Try to lay a surface that will work all year round if possible.
6. Overcoming Obstacles
During your planning stages, you will have identified obstacles to your path. These could include anything from fallen trees to abandoned cars. Now is the time to implement your solution.
If you do need to remove a large heavy item from the pathway, try to use a mechanism that will not damage the environment. Not only do you want to avoid damaging the location unnecessarily, but deep tire treads in the mud, collision marks on trees, or other damage, will reduce the appeal of your trail.
Ideally, you will have a group of volunteers that will help you with heavy lifting. You would be surprised at what heavy obstacles a group of healthy young people can lift.
You might feel that you have worked hard and brought the trail to a point where people can start to use it. However, your work does not stop there.
After starting a trail project, you will need to return at various times during the year to ensure that it is safe and perform maintenance.
Have shrubs and bushes grown quickly over part of the path, making it unpassable? Could a tree or large branch have fallen over the path in a recent storm? These are all issues that you will need to resolve to keep your path open and safe.
This is yet another reason why it makes sense to work together with a group of people who can share this work. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to live in a scenic location and have created multiple trails.
The Most Effective Trail Building Techniques and Much More
In 2020, people are socially distancing and focusing on avoiding contamination.
Why not take this opportunity to learn trail building skills? Setting out into a forest or a mountain range can give you the freedom and exercise you need with minimum risk. Hiking and biking in the great outdoors are some of the best and healthiest hobbies you can have at any time.
If you would like to learn more about exercise and other lifestyle subjects, why not check out our other blog articles? We research and publish articles that can help you today.