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Off the Bike

re-Building trails : 28/100

I am building trails for biking and hiking on our land in Colorado. In a prior post I talked about the fence-line trail that surrounds the perimeter of our land. The previous owner made the trail by walking it multiple times a day for decades. The problem is its a little narrow for a bike trail, and we have let the vegetation take parts of it over.

My next trail building project is going to be a rebuilding of the fence-line trail. The goal will be to cut back the vegetation and widen the existing trail to 18 to 24 inches. This will make it more fun to ride by people of any skill level. It will also improve the drainage which will help keep it ride-able.

Tools

Before
After

I have said that making a trail is making a shallow ditch. You are digging a few inches into the ground and removing vegetation. I would refine that to say that trail building is more akin to tilling a garden. In a garden you are moving vegetation by weeding out any plant that is not what you want to grow. Building a trail is the same but you don’t want any vegetation to grow.

The tools for trail building match the gardening metaphor as well. Rogue Hoe’s trail building line of tools are all hoes and rakes. Currently I have been using my metal rake the most to build the section of fence-line and kiss of cactus trails. It levels out the dirt and removes dead vegetation and large rocks.

The issue I am starting to run into more is the live vegetation that has good root structure. For this I need a tool that cuts more than the metal rake does. Professional trail builders and forest firefighters in the US have used the McLeod for over a century by combining the rake with a hoe. One of our good friends is a retired forest service firefighter and recommended I grab the 55HR – 5.5″ Hoe/Rake for what I need. Rogue Hoe is a small family company that I am excited to support and it looks like the tool is very high quality.

Before
After

Workout

I have been taking it easy this week but am still getting my workouts in. Raking a trail for 30 minutes gets a good sweat going. My goal is to have the fence-line trail completed within two weeks. Once the 55HR arrives I should be able to move even faster. Hopefully I will have the next segment of trail completed by the end of June.

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