On National Public Lands Day, I traveled down to “The Wayne” as it is known. The Buckeye Trail Association was beginning an ambitious project of relocating more of the Buckeye Trail from a road section to an off road section-meaning trail!
The Buckeye Trail is being relocated thanks to a partnership with the Wayne National Forest, private landowners and the Clean Ohio Green space Fund.
On Saturday, we had volunteers Andrew, Richard, Mark, Frank, Mark, Dan, Kim, and Bob. On Sunday, we had volunteers Andrew, Richard, Mark, Mark, Bob and Kim. We got mucho real estate done with our crew!
What We were Doing
The section of trail we were working on was fairly simple. The BT comes out of the woods, and then goes down a gravel road. The new trail section crosses the road and continues somewhat parallel to the gravel road, but up in the woods.
Some of the volunteers were experienced trail workers, some of us were fairly new to trail building. I had helped relocate a section of Buckeye Trail last October, but I didn’t really remember too much detail about the tools and what needed to be done. Andrew and Richard were very good at explaining what work needed to be done.
Before and After
There are several steps to trail building. The first step is the mapping out of the trail. That is left to the experts-in this case, Richard Lutz, the GIS Co-ordinator for the Buckeye Trail Association. I believe there is both art and science involved in trail building.
You have to take in consideration of the slope, you don’t want to exceed a certain amount of grade. You want to the trail to be fairly level, the hiker doesn’t want to walk on a cambered area for too long. You want the trail to drain water away, not pool up on the trail. Andrew pointed out that branches need to be pruned back from a trail. A hiker will go out of their way to avoid a branch-and may be stepping off the trail to do so.
Hopefully you have several volunteers that can fill out all the jobs that need to happen to create the trail.
First you clear big trees, logs, multi-flower rose. Dig out invasive shrubs like the Eastern Olive. The area might need to be brush hogged. People might need to use loppers 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.
The next volunteers in would using the fire rakes. 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 across the side of a hill. If you look at the side profile of this cut it looks like a bench, hence the name. I don’t want to write about how to build a bench trail correctly, as I would probably get it wrong, so here is a link with benching explained better.
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.
What Do You get for your Effort?
Look at the finished trail!
You are Volunteers!
If you come out for a trail building event, remember you are a volunteer. You can do as much work or as little work as you want. If you need to take a break-take a break. Can’t saw a log in half? That’s okay, you don’t have to, you are a volunteer.
Not into physical labor? Well, then come walk on the new hiking trail! The trail needs foot traffic to be maintained and pack down that dirt. It’s a very pretty section of *new trail* down in the Wayne National Forest!