December 6, 2012

Trail Science 106: The trail corridor

The final entry in the Trail Science series is the trail corridor, which includes the trail’s tread and the area above and to the sides of the tread. According to the Forest Service’s Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, hiking trails should be cleared of brush 6 feet wide and 8 feet high.

The Pacific Northwest Trail
A Pacific Northwest Trail

Anyone who has hiked a trail suffering from blow down knows that brush and fallen trees threaten a trail’s integrity. Trees and brush on a trail force hikers to avoid the work of climbing over and under the barriers. Instead, they often form a new trail around the debris, causing damage to the landscape.
On a steep slope, the upslope will likely need to be cleared of debris further away from the trail than the downslope side of the trail.
Trees within a trail’s corridor should be removed. If limbs need removed from half the tree, it might as well be completely removed. Logging out a trail (removing fallen trees crossing a trail) can be hazardous. On steep hillsides, a fallen tree presents a range of challenges.
As stated in an earlier segment of Trail Science, the 100 series is a basic, general overview of trail construction and maintenance. As in any science, the study of trails runs much deeper than what was covered in this series. Mathematical equations, the study of plants, human psychology, engineering and tool knowledge are all elements of what I like to call trail science.
Enhanced by Zemanta