There is a BIG difference between someone who only knows how to run a machine and someone who knows how to build a trail. "Hey, _____ runs an excavator, lets have him build the trail..." A machine operator without trail building skills can result in an undesirable and unsustainable route that can be impossible to fix. Even with precise route marking there are still costly mistakes an inexperienced trail builder can make. Unfortunately there are many examples of this that just end up a scar on the land eventually melting back into the earth, or requiring constant maintenance for survival.
After designing and building trails on a volunteer level for a couple decades, and as word got out about how fun and well built these trails are, I started receiving inquires about doing it on a professional level. Your project can benefit from the years of experience building trails which including some in the BLM's top 20 rated national trail system. Popular trail routes have been designed and built on both public land (BLM and USFS) and private land. Here are some of the services offered to make your trail project successful.
- Use of micro trail construction equipment by an experienced trail builder creates a route that typically looks like home grown singletrack over time while remaining within a budget.
- A skilled operator can work around natural features and incorporate them into the build to maintain a nice flowing and natural looking trail and not a boring straight mini road. Building a hard surface path is a significantly different skill-set than building a flowy singletrack trail.
- Equipment can be used to easily create subtle drainage features that are instrumental in avoiding erosion issues and minimize maintenance down the road. Building properly sized drainage features by hand requires far greater time and effort than with equipment.
- Building rideable switchbacks is a significant undertaking when done by hand and encountering a large rock could end progress forcing a start-over. The right equipment can save significant time and effort building switchbacks saving money.
- Building large bench cuts are challenging and time consuming by hand and often result in trails that are way to skinny and have an undesirable outslope with the critical edge deteriorating over time. This is where equipment shines and produces excellent results much faster and at a greater value.
- There are obviously situations where equipment is not the best method. Where equipment access to a worksite is not possible or cost prohibitive, there are safety concerns or the advantages equipment offers is not necessary. Generally equipment can be utilized in most projects or at least a combination of handwork and equipment to save costs.
- After the critical trail design process and route marking, typically with pin-flagging, the construction begins. First the corridor is cleared, then the equipment operator sculpts the trail and finishes the surface using various custom implements.