Memorial Day Weekend Trail Maintenance

Clearing the walkway for hikers

I maintain a section of trail in New York. This involves hiking it at least twice a year in order to ensure that the trail is clear of debris, foliage seeking the sun in the (relatively) clear area that the trail ends up representing, cleaning up any trash, and just generally inspecting the state of things.

It started to rain as I got to the trailhead. Luckily, the trail is largely covered with rich green cover by this time of the year, so it was actually just wet (rather than actively raining) in the forest itself. I was mostly wet from sweat for the approach to my section of trail which involves a short flat hike to the ascent beside a waterfall to the ridge. Here I ended up clearing numerous dead and low-hanging branches away from the trail. It’s also important to keep an eye out for dead branches that have been blown from up high that have been caught by lower branches and get them down safely before they fall on some unsuspecting hiker. I managed to find one branch and two fallen trees being held up in this way that are now safely on the ground and away from the trail.

Up on the actual ridge, the trees are shorter and the trail is more exposed to the elements. Here, I did end up getting rained on quite a bit, though it was thankfully a softer drizzle than an outright downpour. Up here, there is quite a bit of small shrubby plants that come to about knee height at most and slightly overhang the trail. In the rain, this basically means that every time you brush up against one, they’ll put water right into your boots. Clearing these takes a long time since it’s a cumulative effect and there are hundreds of them. I did not manage to clear all of them, so the top of the ridge still has a section with some of these lower overhangs (though anything that reached completely across the trail has been pruned).

On the way back, there were a number of places which ended up accumulating standing water along the trail due to the rain. They’re pretty easy to stay dry for anyone accustomed to rock hopping, but a few strategic drainage additions may help alleviate the problem. Other than that, the trail should be free from minor obstructions[1] during their hikes.

[1] There’s one large tree most will have to duck under, but it’s firmly in place.