Trail corridor size


June 24, 2013, 09:37 AM

I'm hoping some experienced and/or trained trail builders can chime in on this one. What's the ideal trail corridor size? I was recently impaled by a branch (don't worry, I'm ok, managed to ride it out) while riding last week and have often thought about how narrow some of our trails are, especially in faster sections or areas right before a technical drop/jump/rock garden. I realize sometimes a reduced sight line is used to slow riders, but a lot of the time I feel like if I'm not riding the exact center of the trail I'm putting myself at risk of being whacked by trailside vegetation.

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Gary S
Board Member, co-Trail Steward Blue Mound SP
Administrator

June 24, 2013, 10:01 AM

My view of this has changed over the years. I prefer a pretty wide corridor now. Especially downhills where the control may not be 100% and penalty for going off the line can be high. For me, there just isn't a lot of enjoyment derived from threading your handlebars through small trees, and having to slow down for them is pretty worthless. Catching your bars isn't much fun, either.

There is probably a number of inches given in the IMBA guide, but I have no idea what it is. I'd guess a good average is somewhere around four feet. A fixed width doesn't make much sense to me, it should be variable and take into account the terrain and average speed. I know at Blue Mounds, Walter and I have been opening things up more especially on downhill sections. I've been surprised how much of a difference it can make by taking out just one small tree here and there that have slowly become a problem.

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

June 24, 2013, 11:17 AM

We aimed for 10 - 12 feet with some newer parts of Blue Mound after watching a few issues over the years. One is that width lets you and the riders tune in where the best line should be. The other is cutting down maintenance efforts. Safety gets added in their too.

I've been weed whacking and brush cutting recently, and yesterday it became clear I could do a whole stretch of trail without pulling more string from the machine in an area where last year I busted butt cutting back stuff with chain saw and Kombi/sickle.

The scythe is also more effective when woody stuff is cut back. It can by itself cut things the string trimmers can't but you can move faster with it if nothing more than finger size is in the way.

The nicest stuff Walter, Gary and I've done had the WeedWrench pull anything in a 10 - 12 foot swath but it was crap tons of work.

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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

June 24, 2013, 11:53 AM

As above it varies a lot depending on trail features, trail difficulty level, terrain, etc. Yes there are IMBA guidelines as well and they vary depending on the difficulty level. Trailside vegetation is a problem. It should be cut back to a safe distance, and never have sticks or cut branch ends pointing toward the trail. I know less experienced trail folks do not always understand this and it can be hard to stay ahead of these issues.

Controlling rider speed is also a big issue. At CamRock we have a lot of trail that was not designed for high speeds. And a basic fact of riding is that the higher the speeds, the higher the trail erosion. If riders come flying fast into a sharp corner or technical feature, you break hard. The we get the breaking bumps, or chatter, that we have in areas of CamRock. This comes from poor design and/or execution of the trail build. We should do a better job of controlling this with trail design, and rock work. But as always that takes labor. I am hoping to get more buy in with me new adopt a trail system at CamRock. Hopefully I will be getting more suggestions and offers to do these small projects when folks have their own "adopted trails".


~ Chuck Hutchens


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June 25, 2013, 08:39 AM

Thanks guys, I realize the surrounding terrain has a lot to do with it, but you've shared some valuable information about getting the un-cuttable stuff further from the trail to make maintenance easier.

For me, there just isn't a lot of enjoyment derived from threading your handlebars through small trees, and having to slow down for them is pretty worthless. Catching your bars isn't much fun, either.

Totally agree there! I hate having to slow up to twist through some narrow trees, and most of the time there isn't a reason to be going slow on the other side!

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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

June 25, 2013, 09:04 AM

Thanks guys, I realize the surrounding terrain has a lot to do with it, but you've shared some valuable information about getting the un-cuttable stuff further from the trail to make maintenance easier.

For me, there just isn't a lot of enjoyment derived from threading your handlebars through small trees, and having to slow down for them is pretty worthless. Catching your bars isn't much fun, either.

Totally agree there! I hate having to slow up to twist through some narrow trees, and most of the time there isn't a reason to be going slow on the other side!
I will just say to always check with the Trail Steward before altering a trail. As mentioned above speed control is paramount to controlling erosion and having a sustainable trail.
Trails are different. As Gary mentioned at Blue mound you might be clearing a wide corridor to be able to make route finding through the rock gardens easier. These rocks also serve to control speed. At CamRock small trees might be the only local tool available. Having an open freeway leading to a sharp turn leads to tons of erosion. And as we have found on work days quarrying and hauling rocks to accomplish the control task is a ton of work and takes hours of labor for each feature.
As mentioned sticks and/or cut off branches are a different story and should be removed.
I will put in another plug for the new Adopt a Trail at CamRock: http://www.madcitydirt.com/index.php?topic=1588.0]
Thanks guys, I realize the surrounding terrain has a lot to do with it, but you've shared some valuable information about getting the un-cuttable stuff further from the trail to make maintenance easier.

For me, there just isn't a lot of enjoyment derived from threading your handlebars through small trees, and having to slow down for them is pretty worthless. Catching your bars isn't much fun, either.

Totally agree there! I hate having to slow up to twist through some narrow trees, and most of the time there isn't a reason to be going slow on the other side!
I will just say to always check with the Trail Steward before altering a trail. As mentioned above speed control is paramount to controlling erosion and having a sustainable trail.
Trails are different. As Gary mentioned at Blue mound you might be clearing a wide corridor to be able to make route finding through the rock gardens easier. These rocks also serve to control speed. At CamRock small trees might be the only local tool available. Having an open freeway leading to a sharp turn leads to tons of erosion. And as we have found on work days quarrying and hauling rocks to accomplish the control task is a ton of work and takes hours of labor for each feature.
As mentioned sticks and/or cut off branches are a different story and should be removed.
I will put in another plug for the new Adopt a Trail at CamRock: http://www.madcitydirt.com/index.php?topic=1588.0 I am hoping folks decide to "adopt" their section of trail. I would love to work with the CamRock Trail Posse on sections like this to look at options and work with you to decide how to manage your section of trail 8)


~ Chuck Hutchens


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« Last Edit: June 25, 2013, 09:06 AM by TheMayor1 »

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Walt Hougas
Trail Steward - Blue Mound SP
To Be A Man...

June 25, 2013, 12:33 PM

What Chuck said is vital: Check with the people who are in charge before cutting down any trees!

That being said, I concur with the comments from Gary and William about the benefits of having a wide trail corridor. Blue Mound has a lot of very narrow sections of trail due to encroaching trees and branches. I'm working to open them up more for several reasons, the main one being it's hard enough to ride there without being able to see ahead very far.

Walt


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XXX

June 25, 2013, 01:19 PM

What Chuck said is vital: Check with the people who are in charge before cutting down any trees!

I agree (although sometimes I'm the one in charge :D). I was specifically thinking of out at blackhawk when I was riding last week and there's a bunch of branches that hang over right in front of the take off for a jump. Not such a good situation!

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

June 25, 2013, 03:54 PM

What Chuck said is vital: Check with the people who are in charge before cutting down any trees!

I agree (although sometimes I'm the one in charge :D). I was specifically thinking of out at blackhawk when I was riding last week and there's a bunch of branches that hang over right in front of the take off for a jump. Not such a good situation!

I spent parts of last weekend working at that and stopped trying to use the chainsaw when I was slipping on mud. The gully has parts cut way back now (more to go) much like I fixed up other areas last year.

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dburatti
Builder of trails. Rider of bikes.

June 25, 2013, 06:46 PM


Controlling rider speed is also a big issue. At CamRock we have a lot of trail that was not designed for high speeds. And a basic fact of riding is that the higher the speeds, the higher the trail erosion. If riders come flying fast into a sharp corner or technical feature, you break hard. The we get the breaking bumps, or chatter, that we have in areas of CamRock. This comes from poor design and/or execution of the trail build. We should do a better job of controlling this with trail design, and rock work. But as always that takes labor. I am hoping to get more buy in with me new adopt a trail system at CamRock. Hopefully I will be getting more suggestions and offers to do these small projects when folks have their own "adopted trails".

I was about to disagree with your comment about trails not being designed for high speed until I read your other comment about  poor design.  :)

If you let me tweak some section on my own time, I'll help out to enhance the flow.

D


~ I love my job!


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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

June 25, 2013, 11:57 PM


Controlling rider speed is also a big issue. At CamRock we have a lot of trail that was not designed for high speeds. And a basic fact of riding is that the higher the speeds, the higher the trail erosion. If riders come flying fast into a sharp corner or technical feature, you break hard. The we get the breaking bumps, or chatter, that we have in areas of CamRock. This comes from poor design and/or execution of the trail build. We should do a better job of controlling this with trail design, and rock work. But as always that takes labor. I am hoping to get more buy in with me new adopt a trail system at CamRock. Hopefully I will be getting more suggestions and offers to do these small projects when folks have their own "adopted trails".

I was about to disagree with your comment about trails not being designed for high speed until I read your other comment about  poor design.  :)

If you let me tweak some section on my own time, I'll help out to enhance the flow.

D
For sure Dewayne! All help is appreciated. Just give me a call anytime.
I should have also added that I have had my eyes opened to how much more of this type of flow, along with sustainable trail building, can be accomplished with a machine! Instead of rocks or trees as trail anchors, it can also be moving some dirt to direct traffic and water flow. What might take a full day of volunteers working can be done in 15-20 minutes with a machine and a good operator.


~ Chuck Hutchens


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dburatti
Builder of trails. Rider of bikes.

June 26, 2013, 08:58 AM

As mentioned above speed control is paramount to controlling erosion and having a sustainable trail.

I disagree. While excessive braking contributes to erosion, it is not the main cause.  Poor design and poor construction are.  The only permanent fix to a poorly designed section, i.e. to control erosion in these spots, be it an open (read: fast) section leading to a too tight turn or trail built on slopes of less than 7%, is to reroute them sustainably.  Most of the time these reroutes improve the flow of the trail for the rider greatly.  Controlling the speed of the rider is much more difficult on a problem trail than designing good flow into the trail, particularly when you take into account the varying skill levels and their respective speeds.

D


~ I love my job!


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Gary S
Board Member, co-Trail Steward Blue Mound SP
Administrator

June 26, 2013, 10:33 AM

If a trail is built properly you shouldn't even need brakes! 8)

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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

June 26, 2013, 02:45 PM

If a trail is built properly you shouldn't even need brakes! 8)
That would get rid of any trail chatter :)
I vote for the new Trail Standard ::)


~ Chuck Hutchens


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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

June 26, 2013, 03:09 PM

If a trail is built properly you shouldn't even need brakes! 8)

We have a pretty much no brakes project at Blackhawk. There have been changes since Ben made this video. The upper half can be rolled. I might get the chainsaw to the toppled tree by jump at 1:32 tonight. That's the down tree that started this post.

Blackhawk Edit


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