Building new trail at Camp Tuscazoar

Trail Building at Camp Tuscazoar

Trail Building

The Buckeye Trail crew successfully took more of the Buckeye Trail off road and back on trail-trail that they BUILT.

Picture by Heather Johnson

Trail Building is Hard  Work

Other than some mechanized tools such as the Dr Mower Dr Mower Buckeye Trail and chain saw, trail building is done by hand.

macleod trail tooltrail work

Tools of Trail Building

There are several steps to trail building. The first step is the mapping out of the trail. There there is both art and science involved in trail building. (The first step is actually getting all the permissions to move/build trail from all the involved regulatory entities, but that’s a blog post all by itself.)

There is  consideration of the slope, you don’t want to exceed a certain  grade. You want to the trail to be fairly level, the hiker doesn’t want to walk on a cambered area. There might only be a limited area that the trail can be built.

Big Stuff Out

First you clear big trees, and logs.   Yep, the  volunteers  dug  that tree completely out of the trail.The tree is removedThe area might need to be brush hogged.  Loppers are used to cut away vines and brambles. A leaf blower may be used to blow large loose debris and leaves off the area to be worked.

McLeod or Fire Rake

The fire rake is to rake all the vegetation off the area. We want to get down to dirt! You can also turn the fire rake sideways and hack away roots with the rake.


Some areas of the trail may need to be benched. A bench cut is the result of cutting a section of tread, or shelf across the side of a slope.

Benching Building Buckeye Trail

description of benching

Diagram from

If you look at the side profile of this cut it looks like a bench, hence the name.  Every rock, stump and woody plant must be thoroughly dug out, and the ground leveled off, with just enough slope that water can drain off.

trail building

What is everyone doing? Digging out every root and rock in our way!!

Chopping tree down

building trail

trail tools

Power Line

Our new section of trail leaves the woods and goes thru the power line. In this section, we were removing the heavy vegetation to get down to the dirt. This was harder than benching! We quickly became aware of a certain plant that grew in clumps that would require several whacks with the Pulaski or mattock to get it out of the ground.

The Buckeye Trail crosses the power line

Removal of sod under powerline

The Finishers

The finishers are the volunteers who follow the benchers and rakers to  you guessed it “finish” the trail. They rake any big berms of loose soil off the trail so the water won’t pool on the trail.  They might remove roots and rocks. There are many different opinions on what the “finisher” should do.

Volunteers hard at work

What Do You get for your Effort?

Some of our awesome volunteers Buckeye Trail Crew

A few of the Sunday volunteers who stopped working long enough for a picture snap! Others were still working!

Besides tired legs and an aching back? The satisfaction of seeing trail that you created, you built! A sense of pride when you hike through the woods, knowing this trail would not have existed without your hard work.

Next time you are out hiking in the woods, pause and admire the trail that volunteers built!

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