Planners, designers, and managers must keep the 4Es of engineering, education, enforcement, and evaluation in the forefront of their mind in their work to create great trails. If riders find what they want on the trail, they won’t look for it off the trail.
Observe, Record, Report The fourth E in the all-important 4Es is Evaluation, which is an assessment, appraisal, or review. If managers don’t know the current conditions, they won’t know how to plan, act, or react.
Assessments, which can be either routine or formal, are part of a continual process used in every component of the Great Trail Continuum:
Formal assessments are more comprehensive, detailed, and often look at the bigger picture that includes not just sites on the ground, but how those sites affect the overall effectiveness of the program. Rather than being proactive, a formal assessment is often requested as a reaction to an issue that is no longer a symptom, but a problem. A formal assessment answers the questions: What could be there? What is there? What should be there? How do I get to where I should be?
The final report usually has three parts: observations, where the site is examined and evaluated to answer the first two questions (above); commendations, what is good or going well; and recommendations, actions to correct what isn’t good and answer the last two questions (above). Often, these reports are precursors to a management action, used as a project basis (Purpose and Need), and incorporated into NEPA documents or management plans.
There are three main types of formal assessments: feasibility or site assessment, safety assessment, and condition survey or assessment.
Feasibility or Site Assessments. What activities could or should occur on a given site? What are the opportunities and what are the obvious constraints? A feasibility assessment is usually conducted at the project initiation phase, which could be at the beginning of a new project or the expansion of an existing project.
The assessor should understand:
Safety Assessments. A safety assessment examines agency risk and the risk to public safety. Perhaps there has been a tort claim, an increase in the number or severity of accidents, increased search and rescue incidents, customer complaints, or just an uneasy feeling or question by management. For objectivity, it is highly recommended that the assessor be unfamiliar with the site.
The assessor should understand:
Condition Survey or Assessment. A condition assessment usually focuses on the physical condition of the trail and related facilities, but it can also look at the bigger picture and address safety and risk issues. It answers questions like: How often does this occur? Why does this occur? What else is occurring? Is the trail condition consistent with design and maintenance guidelines in the TMO? Does the trail provide the desired experience? Is the trail sustainable or is it degrading due to poor location and design or changes in use levels, use types, or maintenance? Are the structures sound and functional? Do the facilities provide good customer information and service? Are resources being protected? Is there compliance with the rules and regulations? Is off-trail use occurring? Is the trail providing a high-quality recreation experience and customer satisfaction? Does the site appear professionally managed and maintained?
Using the 4Es, the condition assessment examines trail issues (drainage, erosion, tread degradation) and recommends solutions (maintenance, reconstruction, structures, hardening, or relocation). Recommendations can also include staffing, training, or equipment needs. As with safety assessments, a condition survey is best done with someone who is knowledgeable, but not routinely familiar with the site.
The assessor should understand:
Tip: A qualified engineer must inspect structures that have been engineered as bridges and retaining walls on a regular basis. Unless qualified, an assessor can only note the indicators of structure degradation and recommend further inspection by an engineer.
Safety and condition assessments examine issues, but often managers may not recognize an issue or the indicators of an impending issue. Inexperienced personnel or familiarity with a site can blur the team members’ vision, which is why a fresh set of eyes is best for conducting these assessments. Listed below are some of the issues or indicators that an assessment would highlight.
Tip: Challenge is an expectation, risk is a surprise
Tip: Never close a trail by simply putting a fence across it. The result will be failure.
Tip: Every known accident should have some level of investigation to determine cause and agency risk.
Problem indicators can be obvious or subtle, but they are all precursors of future management or maintenance issues. Many of these issues appear to be maintenance related, but they could also indicate issues with trail location, construction techniques, budget, priorities, available personnel, skilled personnel, complacent personnel, material availability, equipment availability, a lack of an assessment, or extended intervals between assessments.
Some problem indicators that often show up in assessments include the following:
Too often, trail managers choose to pour time, money, and materials into fixing a poorly located trail when the remedy of relocation would be less expensive and far more sustainable in the long run. Assessments can help managers identify the source of problems and make the right decisions to correct them.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
Protect Your Riding Area; Stay on Designated Routes “Wow! That was fun!” What sets one trail apart from all the other trails and makes riders say this at the end of the day? Was it the setting and the landscape, the challenge, the recreation experience, or something else? Something about that trail evoked feelings and emotions. Managers must find the elements that made those riders say “WOW!”
Often, when riders are asked what makes a great trail great, the responses include:
Note that all of these except for “fun” are physical features that are provided through good planning, location, and design. “Fun” is at the top of the list because it is often the first rider response. But what is “fun”? In reality, a fun experience is created by having all of the other bullets. Fun is actually a subjective assessment of the experience. It is an emotional response and the greater the trail experience, the higher the emotional response. Five factors come together to trigger that great trail emotion: capitalize on the physical elements, understand and design for the human elements, create trail flow, provide for the riders’ needs, and create variety.
The physical elements are the features of the landscape that the planners or designers have available to help mold the quality of the trail experience. These features can be grand or subtle.
Tip: Developing a WOW trail experience is similar to a painter creating a masterpiece.
The arrangement of the physical features on a trail can trigger an emotional response within the riders. There are two components of this element: human perception and feelings.
What riders see, the order in which they see it, and how they interpret what they see forms a perception of the trail that molds the judgment of the experience. That perception is formed by the arrangement of natural features to form shapes, anchors, gateways, and edges. A trail that capitalizes on these features is one that will trigger an emotional response.
Some ways planners and designers can capitalize on human perception include the following:
Shapes, anchors, gateways, and edges are all a spatial arrangement of natural features. Because they trigger an emotional response from the riders, they are powerful design tools. Those tools form the perception of the trail, but the trail’s location and design also stimulate feelings. By having positive feelings about the trail, the trail experience and thus the recreation experience is likely to be positive also. Great trail planners and designers create feelings of safety, efficiency, playfulness, and harmony.
Safety. Am I within my comfort zone? Am I going to be able to make it back to the trailhead? Everyone has a different comfort zone, therefore it is imperative that the condition of the trail be effectively communicated to the public. It must be designed according to its TMO, maintained according to the TMO, and be signed accordingly. Riders can get out of their comfort zone when signs are missing, the tread does not appear stable or of adequate width, trees haven’t been cut out, or the trail is so overgrown it is hard to distinguish the tread from a game trail. All of these make the riders question what they’re getting into.
Comfort zone does not mean the trail is free of challenge. Comfort zone is how a rider feels on the trail on a given day. Individual riders will have differing levels of comfort on the same trail on different days. Trails are not one size fits all. Challenge is part of the experience the trail provides. Riders make a conscious decision to seek out challenges and many riders are in their comfort zone doing so. If challenge is imposed on the riders by surprise, it then becomes a risk, and risk can lead to liability.
Flow is the continual horizontal and vertical movement of the trail on the landscape without conflicting with the landscape. Flow is the rhythm of the trail and the riders feel that rhythm as the riders flow with the trail. That flow and rhythm stimulates emotional responses within the riders which is why it helps make a great trail great.
If at all possible, take the riders where they want to go and provide a variety of experiences while doing it.
What do people want from their experience?
Where do people want to go?
Artists have their color palette, but the landscape is the palette for the trail designers. The artist has seven elements with which to create art: line, color, value (contrast), shape (2D), form (3D), texture, and space (scale or depth). Most of these terms have been used to describe the illustrations in this chapter because the trail designers use these same elements to create the images that will mold the riders’ perceptions. Is creating a great trail art or science? It is both.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Ride the Right Sized Machine. The key to a great trail is in the location of the trail and in the arrangement of certain physical features that can stimulate powerful perceptions and feelings. Indeed, the landscape is like a giant trail jigsaw puzzle. The pieces are out there, but where? And how do they get arranged? Is there more than one way to solve the puzzle and if so, which is the best way?
When finding the best location for a trail, the locators provide for the riders’ needs by managing the vehicle use and the riders’ viewshed, speed, and experience all while protecting the natural resources. That is a heavy load to carry and it takes careful decisions to effectively place a trail on the landscape that meets all of those objectives.
The effort takes both physical and mental energy and can leave locators exhausted in both capacities. The locators need to be mentally sharp and physically prepared for a tough day of walking in the field. But the result of all this effort will be a well-designed, environmentally friendly trail that is fun to ride and a great success.
1. Know the Complete Trail Picture. All of the eleven items are important to know, but the TMO has a direct bearing on almost every flag the locators hang. Generic TMOs were created during the development of the concept plan. Those TMOs could change if necessary during the location process once actual site conditions are thoroughly examined, but they are a place to start. The vehicle type will affect trail width, grade, and the physical forces applied to the trail. How the trail will be constructed will determine whether the team goes around a stump for hand-build or through the stump for machine-build. The intended challenge level will affect whether the team goes around the rock for an easier trail or over the rock for a more technical trail.
2. Use the Concept Plan. Considerable work was invested in developing the concept plan, so it is a good place to start. Locators should use it as a guide, but recognize that it will likely change once more reconnaissance is performed and actual site conditions are identified.
7. Revise the Concept Plan. Once all of the landscape parcels are connected together with actual flag lines, chances are that there have been a bunch of changes in loop configurations, junction locations, trail difficulty, and even trail use type. Locators should make sure that the plan is still compliant with the environmental documentation and update the concept plan. It will then become the design plan, which will be used through construction and maintenance.
8. Develop Final TMOs. The TMO has key information that triggers important design-build-maintenance parameters. Now is the time to update and finalize the TMOs so they can accompany the design plan through the remaining portions of the Great Trail Continuum.
9. Prepare a Trail Log if Necessary. The trail log is a list of work items that the designers prepare for the construction crew or contractor. Items would include: turnouts, rolling dips, chokes, special challenge features, easy-outs, drains, all structures and their size and length, trail hardening, and any special design items or notes. The trail log is where the locators and the designers have the opportunity to communicate their vision and intent with whomever is doing the construction. The trail log and the TMO are key documents used to develop a construction contract packet.
Once the locators have done their job, it is time for the designers to step in. Since the landscape is the pieces of the giant trail system jigsaw puzzle, it is important that the designers recognize and understand the clues to each piece. This allows the designers to make informed decisions regarding the environment and rider experience, and thus assemble the pieces into a great trail.
Read the Landscape. The landscape gives the designers information about topography, climate, vegetative type, soil type, soil stability, moisture content, water sources, drainage, wildlife and stock use, features, and of course the potential opportunities for a quality trail experience. To the eyes of experienced designers, the landscape will indicate potential habitats for sensitive plant and animal species. Looking at existing impacts like roads, skid trails, game and stock trails, and existing recreation trails will give them clues as to soil stability, storm impacts, and the maximum grades that can still be sustainable. Some landscapes are breathtakingly heterogeneous and dramatic and others are incredibly homogeneous and bland. Both can be beautiful and both provide challenges for designers. Heterogeneous landscapes can offer exciting feature-rich trail experiences, but they can be difficult to preserve the viewshed, harmonize with the landscape, hide the trail from the riders and from other viewers, and effectively manage the OHV use. Homogeneous landscapes generally have fewer viewshed concerns, but can test the designers’ ability to find and create an exciting trail with a lot of variety.
The photos below show some examples of what the landscape can tell designers.
Make the Trail Flow with the Landscape. Making a trail flow starts with viewing a landscape, identifying the places the trail could go, and then visualizing the least intrusive route to get there.
Use the Landscape to Enhance the Rider Experience. Every landscape has topographic or vegetative features that can be creatively used to enhance the rider experience. There can be big WOWs or subliminal wows, but like gateways and anchors, the challenge for designers is to find them and piece them together.
Here are eight tips to create a great trail.
How to achieve those benefits:
How to achieve those benefits:
The benefits of dense, woody vegetation include:
How to achieve those benefits:
How to achieve those benefits:
How to achieve those benefits:
How to achieve those benefits:
How to achieve those benefits:
Manage the riders’ eyes. Controlling the riders’ eyes helps:
How to achieve those benefits:
Road Crossings. One place with potential risk is a road crossing. Roads can be low standard with low traffic volume and speed or high standard with high traffic volume and speed, but the trail crossing design is the same for both.
Creek Crossings. Many areas do not allow for tire and water contact or it may be allowed in only intermittent or non-fish-bearing streams. Check the classification of the stream and follow the crossing guidance in the management plan or other environmental document.
Here are some things to keep in mind for creek crossing:
Bridge Sites. Bridge sites need to be carefully selected and properly engineered. If at all possible, avoid having a bridge site down in a canyon where the only access is by having steep trail grades that lead directly down to the bridge, which can deliver sediment directly into the creek.
For bridge sites:
Ridges. It is human nature to want to get to the top, and a ridge trail is often at the top or leading riders to it. Ridges can offer dramatic views, wind-blown character trees, unusual rock formations, and almost always a change in topography and vegetation. All of these are good, desirable features; however, the goal for the trail designers is to arrange these in a series of big WOWs and little wows that treats and enhances the rider experience. Ridgetop trails can be undesirable because they often: follow the fall line, can be difficult to drain, do not provide enough riding diversity, do not vary the viewshed of the riders, do not frame the unique features for the riders, and divide rather than harmonize with the landscape.
Saddles are low points in ridgelines and as such they are natural targets for trail locators to cross over a ridgeline. However, they can drain water from both directions and any trail passing through the saddle can intercept this water. The designers must carefully assess the drainage patterns in a saddle and design the trail with drain points on each side of the saddle.
Meadows. Everyone enjoys looking at a meadow. Meadows offer vegetative diversity and beauty, often a chance to see wildlife, and usually a chance for a great panoramic view. As in a ridgetop trail, why put the trail through a meadow and divide, rather than harmonize with, the landscape? If possible, it is better to locate the trail in the trees, give the riders brief glimpses of the meadow to tantalize them into wondering what a full view would be like, pop them out to the edge while directing their eyes at the meadow and a WOW view, and then take them back into the trees again for variety before treating them once again to a view of the meadow. Designers should play with the riders’ eyes and the rider experience to create a great trail.
Here are some points about meadows:
Climbing Turns. If the side slope is less than 25 percent and there is room for a curve radius of more than 8 feet, locating a climbing turn is almost always a better alternative than a switchback. Why? Climbing turns maintain flowmentum, are easier to ride by most riders, and have less tread impacts and resulting maintenance.
Considerations for climbing turns:
Switchbacks. In terrain steeper than 35 percent or rocky, gnarly terrain that won’t accommodate a climbing turn, a switchback becomes a necessity. Switchbacks have a radius of less than 8 feet and they can be very challenging to ride if they are not designed and constructed properly.
Some designers install switchbacks even when they could use a climbing turn, just to increase difficulty. A switchback is not a challenge feature and should not be used as such. It is a trail structure that is necessary to change direction and gain elevation. Switchbacks can be expensive to construct and even more expensive to maintain, especially if they are poorly designed. Most riders don’t like them because they are difficult to ride and this can create severe tread impacts. Using them as a challenge feature only exacerbates the impacts and the maintenance costs.
Trail Junctions. A well-planned trail system should have multiple loops, so well- designed trail junctions are required to access those loops. Trail junctions serve as decision points that help disperse the riders and enhance their experience by providing variety.
Sound Intrusion to Residents. Sound is produced by physical vibration that creates audible waves of pressure. Design can mitigate sound. Unwanted sound perceived as noise produces a negative psychological reaction. It cannot be mitigated outside of sound mitigations
Mitigate sound by:
Grade Reversals. Grade reversals provide positive drainage, low maintenance, and are the most effective way to reduce tread watershed size. As such, they are the primary tool available for the designers to manage water. Many people refer to a rolling dip as a grade reversal. Technically it is, but a grade reversal is a drainage feature designed into a trail during location and a rolling dip is a constructed drainage structure that is added to a trail.
Here are some key points about grade reversals:
Turnouts. There are many benefits to two-way trails, but with steep topography or dense vegetation, opportunities to pass other riders can be limited. In addition, when riders try to squeeze by, weight on the outside of the trail can damage the trail shoulder making the trail narrower and potentially unstable. This can be remedied by designing in turnouts. As in roads, turnouts offer a place of refuge from an oncoming rider or a safe place out of the lane of traffic to rest, look at the map, or take photos. Turnouts are usually placed at the outside of horizontal curves, the crest of vertical curves, in thick vegetation with limited sight distance, or on very steep ground where riders don’t want to back up. Spacing between turnouts depends on traffic speed, volume, and the physical conditions of the site.
Here are some considerations regarding turnouts:
Sometimes there are management constraints that preclude the designer from following the recommended guidelines. When this situation occurs, designers and planners should check the environmental document and talk to the manager. The intent of the plan document can often give designers more latitude than they may think. Depending on the political climate and the comfort level of the manager, a quick resource survey and letter for the file may be all that is needed to relocate a troublesome trail. The tips below will help mitigate the issues if the trail must go in a less than ideal situation.
The Fall Line. What if the trail has to be on the fall line?
Tips for using fall line trails are:
Using Natural Surface Roads for 50-Inch Trails. If natural surface (NS) roads can be converted to trails, take advantage of the opportunity. There are pitfalls of using NS roads, but the reality is that NS roads are going to be used as trails, so the key is to minimize the pitfalls (tread watershed) and maximize the experience. The experience that the NS road provides depends on two factors: the standard of the NS road and the setting that the NS road is in. The road standard is determined by factors like speed (high versus low), alignment (straight versus serpentine), and surface type (gravel or native).
The setting is what is around the NS road. What is there for the riders to see and do the riders want to see it? Are their eyes confined to a corridor or are they open to a panorama? Is there scenic diversity? A high standard road tends to provide a transportation experience while a low standard road tends to provide a recreation or trail experience. However, a high standard road in a highly scenic setting can easily transform the experience from transportation to a quality recreation experience.
Here are some thoughts regarding using natural surface roads for trails:
Connect One Natural Surface Road to Another. This is a common scenario. The connector will often be the only chance to provide a high-quality trail experience. Seize the opportunity to maximize that experience. If there is only a quarter mile between the two natural surface roads, try to squeeze in one-half to three-fourth mile of fun trail.
Using Flat Ground. Flat ground is not a sustainable trail location. However, sometimes it is required or desirable to use it.
Inability to Relocate the Existing Trail. If a trail can't be relocated:
Watch for the Red Flags. The need for multiple structures and trail hardening installations can be a red flag indicator of a poor location due to poor soils, wet ground, or unstable ground. Perhaps the trail shouldn’t be there. Are there other options? If not, then plan for an increased maintenance budget.
The evolution of trails: Due to the forces of compaction, displacement, and erosion, trails will change over time. With sustainable design, those forces can be slowed and managed, but not stopped. When first constructed, the tread often appears smooth and sanitized and riders often reject them as being unnatural. But in time, rocks and roots will appear, loose rocks will get rolled out of the way, and some of the features that were easy to negotiate become a little harder to negotiate. So the experience and challenge level can change. This is due to a trail settling into the landscape and the effects of thousands of vehicles and hundreds of weather events. Change is not necessarily bad and is often beneficial, but it should be anticipated by the designers and managers and be reflected in the TMO. This will ensure that after the trail has settled in, the challenge level still falls within the parameters of the TMO. In maintenance, signs get replaced, blow downs get removed, hazards get addressed, structures get inspected and addressed, and spot tread maintenance occurs, but rarely does the entire tread get maintained. If the condition of the trail after evolution will not be acceptable, then the designers must take steps now to keep the trail in its as-built condition.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
Ride Safe, Ride Smart, Always Like any other modality, an integral part of trail riding is challenge: riders constantly push themselves to determine how good they are and how good are their machines. Challenging trails or features can provide a boost of fun, excitement, extended seat time, camaraderie, and self-confidence if the rubber side stays down. By choice, they take riders out of their comfort zone. Adrenaline is pumped out as riders negotiate challenge and are left with a rush of endorphins as they complete the challenge. This creates a chemical high that contributes to the “WOW! That was a great trail!” feeling at the end of the day. These experiences and sensations are desirable and when trail planners provide them, they are definitely providing for the riders’ needs.
There are five ways to create and provide challenge: 1) utilize natural features; 2) utilize design features; 3) utilize manufactured topographic features; 4) utilize natural topographic features; and 5) utilize manufactured design features. A good designer will use all five, either independently or together, to create the desired experience.
1. Utilize natural features. These are features like rock outcrops, boulders, rock step-ups, scree, slab rock, slick rock, and cliffs. Notice that these are all rock features. Rock is generally more durable than soil and offers opportunities for a varied and challenging riding experience. Riding a smooth surface trail can be fun, but throwing in some rocks occasionally can increase that fun.
Soil type also fits into the natural feature category. Often, designers don’t have a choice of the soil type that the trail goes through, but if they do, soil type can definitely affect challenge level. In dry climates, sandy soils are more challenging than silt or clay. In wet climates, silt turns to mud and clay turns into slick gumbo, but wet sand holds up quite nicely.
2. Utilize design features. While topographic features may be limited, there are a host of design features available, including grade, vertical alignment, horizontal alignment, obstacles, clearing, tread, and exposure.
Grade is one of the challenge features that riders like the most, but it’s also one that can cause the most impacts. The key is for designers to look at a given situation and make an assessment on how steep the grade can be. Grade pitches, even short ones, can increase the interest and variety of the trail.
Six elements can affect the degree of challenge for obstacles: size, frequency, stability, traction, location, and position.
Width. A narrower tread has the same effect and benefits as narrower clearing. Note: Narrower equals challenge equals reduced speed; wider equals less challenge equals increased speed. Changing the tread width can add variety and challenge if it’s consistent with the TMO. A good design tool is a choke, which is a narrowing of the trail tread accompanied by a restrictor like trees or rocks. These are similar to a gateway or anchor except that the tread width is less than the design standard. Chokes slow riders down by reducing their perception of safety: “Am I going to fit through that?” These are good in advance of junctions, technical sections, or anyplace else designers want the riders to slow down. Unless the speed is already slow or the trail is extremely technical, it is essential that riders have adequate sight distance to see the choke coming and prepare accordingly to negotiate it.
3. Utilize manufactured topographic features. Manufactured topographic features include the remnants of extraction activities like rock pits, quarries, open-pit mines, and borrow pits; old landings; drill pads; processing and transfer sites; and runways (that is, any large area that has been used for another activity). What is good about these? They are already heavily impacted sites, so they are often a wash from a resource standpoint. As such, they offer an opportunity to be used as OHV facilities where high impact use could occur with little impact on the environment.
4. Utilize natural topographic features. Natural topographic features include any area where unrestricted cross-country riding is allowed. These are usually sand dunes, scab flats, rock knobs, or hills that have durable soils. These open areas are natural features, not commercially impacted features. Like the open areas discussed above, they are designed and managed to accommodate a specific use or activity and they need to be signed accordingly. They can offer high speed, high fun, and high challenge.
5. Utilize manufactured design features. In spite of all the tools available above, the reality is that there are many places that can’t provide sustainable, quality technical challenge. Either they don’t have the topography, features, or soils; or are too dry or too wet. Yet riders still want and need challenge, so how do designers provide that? It’s time to think outside of the box and create it. By creating it, designers have the control to design what they want, where they want it. Management of the use, rider experience, and the resources can all benefit from that. The mountain bike community discovered this several years ago and has upped the challenge and fun factor with the development of coasters, ladder bridges, terrain parks, pump tracks, and freeride facilities. The OHV community could learn and benefit from these examples.
What makes a great trail great? Variety. Use the ways outlined in this chapter to create variety and mix them up, but even then, do riders want to bounce over rocks and roots, squeeze between trees, hang on the edge of a cliff, or have poor flow for 20 miles? That type of trail isn’t fun. To the extent that it’s consistent with the TMO, challenge features should be intermixed with all of the other design tools that truly make a great trail great.
Remember that challenge is an expectation, risk is a surprise. Minimize the surprises.
There are four components to trail sustainability: 1) resource sustainability, 2) political or social sustainability, 3) experience sustainability, and 4) managerial sustainability. These are powerful. If a trail does not have all four components, it could fail.
Resource sustainability. Will the trail provide resource protection in the long term? This is the definition that most people use when referring to sustainable trails.
Experience sustainability. The agency can have a resource sustainable trail, but what if the riders don’t like it? Will the trail provide the desired recreation experience in the long term? Will the experience stay at the same level in the long term?
Political or social sustainability. The agency can have a great trail that has both resource and experience sustainability but is in the wrong place and is unsupportable from a political or social standpoint. There could be visual impacts, noise impacts, or the social impact of “I don’t want to see that activity there.”
Managerial sustainability. There are several aspects of managerial sustainability. One aspect is economic sustainability. A trail in the wrong location can sometimes be mitigated by increasing maintenance and monitoring. But at some point, the cost of having the trail in that location may not be worth it. Another aspect is defensibility. Is the land manager is a position to be able to justify the trail in that location? Also, are the skills of the maintenance and monitoring personnel suitable for the trail? Does the trail meet the needs of the riders?
Except those hillclimbs were located in a huge meadow that was determined to be a sensitive grassland environment; they were visible from a main recreation access road; they contributed noise impacts to residents; and they represented years of abuse and misuse to an intolerant community and media. They weren’t politically sustainable and today they are closed and rehabbed.
This assessment and any resulting action decisions should be well documented.
If the tendency is to ride around a feature, why not design the feature with an easy-out so the trail team can control and manage the use? If all of the technical features on a trail had easy-outs, the overall difficulty rating may be lower and more riders of varied skills could utilize the trail. Easy-outs don’t have to be easy, they just need to be easier than the challenge feature.
Even better than designing easy-outs is to design the entire trail as green or blue with technical outs where the riders have a choice of staying on a less technical route or riding a more technical section. The technical sections can be very short to take advantage of a boulder feature, or longer for a rock garden, but they all loop back to the main trail. If the trail was a double track, there could be both single-track and double-track technical options.
Here are some advantages of designing technical options rather than a technical trail:
Another technique from the mountain bikers is designing features with multiple approach lines, so one feature can offer several different challenge experiences depending on the riders’ feelings of safety and efficiency on a given day. Providing challenge features with choices increases the fun factor and decreases tread impacts. Of course, not all features can have multiple lines, but this is a great technique that should be incorporated wherever possible by the innovative designer. Again, an advantage of multiple lines is that one of them could allow a bypass for maintenance equipment so the more technical lines do not get damaged.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
Know How to Make It Go, or Know How to Ride? Get Trained All trails start at a trailhead or other facility. Those facilities may be the first and only opportunity for the agency to interact or communicate with the riders; therefore, they serve as a welcome center for the customers. As such, they play a key role in OHV management and rider experience. Human feelings and perceptions are powerful elements in making a great trail great. When pulling into a facility, an impression will be made in the mind of the riders. First impressions are lasting impressions and they can form in less than one tenth of a second.
That mental image will include feelings on several important components:
A negative answer to any one of these questions could trigger a negative impression of the site, the agency, and the experience the riders are about to have. A positive impression opens the riders’ minds for receptive communication and acceptance of the rules, regulations, and expected etiquette. Being free of negativity as they start down the trail, the riders can absorb the experience without bias, which sets the stage and opens the door for a WOW experience at the end of the day.
Site Signing. As obvious as this component seems, there are too many OHV recreation sites that do not have an adequate identification sign out on the main road. Even though the site may be clearly visible from the road, someone who has never been there before doesn’t know if this is the intended destination or if it’s several miles farther up the road. Riders could also be arriving at night when the facility can’t be seen from the main road. Ensure that the sign is clearly visible, is reflective, and the text is legible and sized for the speed of the vehicles on the road.
Trail Access. This is the access point to the trail(s). It is preferable to have access to multiple trails rather than just one trail. This allows for quick dispersal, provides loop options, and reduces traffic volume and thus potential tread maintenance.
Here are some key points on the trail access area:
Parking. When large vehicles with trailers need to be accommodated, managing traffic flow is very important to efficiently utilize the available space. The size and configuration of the parking lot is a huge factor in determining the riders’ first impression of the site. Those with trailers will park so they don’t have to back up to get out. Design to minimize the need for backing.
Here are some thoughts on parking:
Toilets. Nothing leaves a lasting impression more than a toilet that is clean and relatively odor free. What is the impression left otherwise? Cleanliness is a maintenance issue, but odor is mostly a design issue. Too many toilets are located where it is convenient rather than where they will function the best. The critical design element for a sweet smelling toilet is airflow, which involves not only prevailing wind currents but thermal currents as well. Become knowledgeable of the science before siting a toilet. Air should move in the vent, down the riser, and up the vent stack. When users raise the toilet seat lid and a rush of nasty air hits them in the face, the airflow has not been managed correctly.
Here are some considerations:
Kiosks. The kiosk is the focal point of the trailhead. As such, it can be used to help draw attention to the trail access point. Unless there is a site host, the kiosk is the place for the agency to communicate with the riders and for the riders to gather the necessary information to plan their ride. Studies have shown that the period to have the riders’ attention is very short, so focus the information on what is most important to the riders, not necessarily the agency. Key messages need to be limited in number, stand out, and be brief.
Here are some key points:
Loading Ramps. Loading ramps have become almost a standard amenity at trailheads. However, when space is confined, they take up valuable real estate and can interfere with normal traffic flow. People got their vehicles loaded before they got to the trailhead; do they need a different way to unload them? Observe the use patterns and talk to the customers. This is one of those features that could be planned, but implemented at a later date if needed.
Here are some key considerations:
Miscellaneous Structures. Some amenities can be desirable depending on the climate and use patterns of the site. A good time to flush out the need for these amenities is during the planning phase of the continuum, or by monitoring use patterns and implementing them after initial facility development. Miscellaneous structures include the following:
Picnic tables are relatively inexpensive and a nice amenity. Rather than pack food, many riders will come back to the trailhead for lunch before heading out for an afternoon ride. Sitting at a table usually beats sitting in the dirt or in the back of a pickup. The more time riders are at the trailhead for other activities like an MX track or youth training area, the higher the need for picnic tables.
Variety has been stressed throughout this book, and it is applicable to campgrounds as well as trails. Customers arrive as individuals or in groups of all sizes, so the camping facilities should be designed to accommodate a range of group sizes and a range of vehicle types and sizes from tents to RVs. Many agencies have design guides for campgrounds; unfortunately, some of those focus on sites for tents and pickup campers but not for big rigs with trailers. Driving a big rig with a trailer through recreation facilities gives one an entirely different perspective on adequate road width, clearances, and turning radii. Navigating a big rig should be mandatory training for any recreation facility designer.
Mix it up. Depending on the vegetation and other site constraints, designers should try to accommodate as many combinations of vehicles and types as possible. This would include spurs and pull-through spaces for a single vehicle and for two, three, four vehicles and up. Then configure their arrangement to be intermingled and best utilize the available space. All of the pull-through spaces don’t have to be together, the single sites don’t have to be together, etc.
Grade. The engineers often want more grade than is necessary to drain the site. Design for the customers, not for the engineers. From a camper’s perspective, there is nothing more frustrating than not being able to level up in a camp spur. RV refrigerators need to be close to level, but just as important the people want to be level. Whether riders are in a tent or RV, it is not comfortable spending the weekend off-camber.
Turning Radius. Two factors affect how sharp a curve is and how drivable it is: the curve radius and the length of the curve. The smaller the radius and the longer the curve, the sharper the curve will be. On any curve, the rear wheels of a vehicle do not follow the same path as the front wheels. The longer the vehicle (and trailer), the wider the offset between the front wheel track and the rear wheel track. This is compounded by the sharpness of the curve. Road designers compensate for this off-tracking by adding curve widening to the inside of the curve. This added lane width can be considerable (up to 20 feet), but in an effort to maintain a natural setting, road widths and clearing widths are often minimized in recreation sites. If sharp curves are designed into an OHV facility, curve widening must be factored into the road width. If it isn't, road damage, or worse yet, vehicle damage can occur. Consult the agency road design guidelines or AASHTO Green Book guidelines.
Vertical Clearance. It can be very disconcerting to drive through a campground road, hear limbs scrape the roof of a vehicle, and wonder if there will be damage to a clearance light, roof vent, an air conditioner unit, TV antenna, satellite dish, or the roof itself. A standard pruning height has been 14 feet, but many motorhomes are 12 feet high and fifth wheels can be 13.5 feet high. If the wind is blowing or the limbs are wet, or full of cones, a 14-foot height is not sufficient. A 15- to 16-foot pruning height is recommended.
Maintenance personnel need to be looking up when patrolling campgrounds. Broken limbs or de-barked limbs are clear indications of inadequate clearance.
Lateral Clearance. Clearing width can become a factor on both roads and camp spurs. If curve widening has not been factored into the design, lateral clearance is an issue because the trailer is going to be off the road and scraping trees. With motorhomes and big trucks, the front wheels can be several feet behind the front corner; therefore, on a sharp curve, the front wheels could be on the road, but the front of the vehicle could be off the road. Without adequate lateral clearance, this could prevent a large vehicle from negotiating a sharp curve.
Back-in Spurs. Spurs utilize space more efficiently than pull-through sites, but big rig drivers will almost always choose a pull-through just to avoid backing up. Back-in spurs usually afford more privacy and in some ways more security because there is only one access point. The key to back-in spurs is their angle to the road. The smaller the angle, the easier the spur is to back in to. The spur angle should not exceed 60 degrees unless the road is very wide or there is another unoccupied site directly across from it. The reason for this is that without extra width, there is inadequate space for the front of the tow vehicle to swing out so the trailer can be straightened.
Pull-through Spaces. The obvious advantage of a pull-through is that it eliminates backing in to a sometimes awkward spur. There are some vehicle combinations that cannot be backed up without unhooking, so those vehicle drivers will almost always choose a pull-through over a back-in.
A pull-through space can be designed for a single vehicle and trailer combination, the center can be widened out to accommodate two vehicles, or widened and lengthened to hold four vehicle combinations. Since pull-through spaces take up more space than spurs, designing them as mini-group sites can help make more efficient use of that space.
To accommodate big rigs, pull-through spaces need to flow well, so they’re best designed as straight or on a long shallow curve. If the curve is too tight, a big rig with a trailer cannot pull in or pull out.
Objects Hidden from View. These are the bollards or boulders that designers place on the corners or edges of the site for enhanced aesthetics and confinement of the use. Unfortunately, when backing a trailer into a site, the drivers’ eyes are focused on where the trailers are going, not on where the front of the tow vehicles are going. These objects become obstacles that are a hazard and are cursed by customers. Another factor is that the higher the drivers sit, the less visibility they have of the ground adjacent to their vehicles. Any objects placed in those locations are actually placed in the drivers’ blind spots. Objects like this need to be either set back out of harm’s way or be tall enough to be clearly visible by the drivers.
Group Sites and Areas. Having a group site(s) or large open areas in which to circle the wagons is definitely an amenity that large families or groups will utilize. These can have utility hookups, but most groups can easily dry camp for a long weekend and would rather camp together than have utility hookups. Why do people circle the wagons? Camaraderie and just as in the old days: security; all of the OHVs, tools, and kids’ toys will be inside the circle.
Site Protection. A concern with any developed or dispersed camp is limiting the spread of the site and protecting vegetation. People like to camp under the trees, but doing so can damage root systems, compact the soil, and affect water absorption. Barriers are often used to confine and control the use.
The Kiddie Effect. OHV riding and camping is a family activity and it’s always great to see families having fun together. The older kids can usually go ride with their parents on the trails, but where do the younger kids ride or learn to ride? Most often, they will end up riding around the camp or through the campground. They will ride all day long until they run out of energy or fuel. This constant noise and dust can be annoying to other campers but it can also present some safety concerns.
Areas to develop skills should be associated with OHV trailheads, staging areas, and campgrounds. They help manage the use by providing a designated place for training, riding, and skill development. They also extend the recreation activity time because they provide activities other than just trail riding. These should be sited quite close to the trailhead or campground, but be located to minimize noise and dust intrusion to other recreationists.
Skill development areas include learner loops, kiddie tracks, tot lots, youth training areas, and technical terrain courses. All except learner loops provide spectator activities where riders and their families or groups can participate or watch.
Learner Loops. A learner loop is a one-way training trail that teaches throttle, clutch, brake, and balance control. To accomplish that, these are often tight, technical, low-speed trails. In theory, they should prepare the riders to negotiate whatever can be expected on the trail system. If the trails have rocks and logs, the learner loop should have rocks and logs. If the area doesn’t have those features, they can be imported. If the main trail has switchbacks, the learner loop should have a switchback if the terrain allows. If there are single- and double-track trails, there should be single- and double-track learner loops.
A learner loop isn’t just for kids; it’s for anyone who needs to develop his or her riding skills. They can be any length, but many are one-fourth to one-half mile long. These loops are dense so they can fit into a small area. If they are long enough, they can also serve as a warm-up loop.
Kiddie Tracks. These are usually a small oval track, fully enclosed with barriers or fencing, with a controlled access point. They are usually signed to limit the age and vehicle displacement (cc). The track usually has some mounds of dirt of varying heights or other obstacles, with easy-outs, to ride over. Some have shaded picnic tables or bleachers so parents can watch their kids play on the track. Size depends on available space, but a nicely sized track can fit on one-half acre.
Designers should keep the kiddie effect issue around dispersed camps in mind and manage the impacts by selecting a couple of the high-use sites and building a small kiddie track at them. The kiddie tracks should be shown on the map so families with small kids can find them. All undesignated tracks should be closed off and use directed to the designated sites.
Tot Lots. Tot lots are designed for the little kids just getting started. They are a simple oval track or may have a few easy curves. They are flat with no superelevation and no mounds so that riders on small 50cc bikes with training wheels can easily navigate them. They are fully enclosed with a single access point and are signed to restrict engine displacement. Depending on soil type, a tot lot may need to be hardened since soft soils are difficult to ride with small tires and small engines, or by kids on their first ride.
Youth Training Areas. Any of the previous areas can be called a youth training area (YTA) or be part of a larger training area. A YTA usually provides a range of activities to accommodate a wider range of ages and skill levels. Some have a tot lot; kiddie track; an ASI or MSF training area; a learner loop; and an obstacle area with mounds, rocks, logs, or other natural or manufactured features. All of this can be provided in less than 2 acres. They are fenced, signed, and have restricted access. Picnic tables in the shade give parents a place to watch their kids.
Technical Terrain Courses. A formal technical terrain course is called an endurocross track. It is a competitive event track that is a spectator activity like MX, rock crawl, and trials. However, they can also be designed and used for casual recreation. These are technically challenging so they provide a much higher level of skill training than the other facilities above, but they are fun and definitely extend recreation activity time. One nice thing about these areas is that they can occupy almost any size or shape land parcel since a lot of obstacles can be positioned into a very small space.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
The Past is Not the Future A plan and a design have been created with care. With construction, the vision becomes a reality. For the designers, after days, weeks, or months of scouting and flagging, there is nothing more gratifying than seeing the flagline become a trail and to finally ride it. It is a WOW feeling and hopefully a WOW experience. Construction is an anticipated time and one of excitement. Everyone on the project team becomes rejuvenated with the smell of freshly turned dirt, the clanging of tools, and the sound of equipment as a trail becomes inscribed on the landscape.
One of the first tasks is to determine how the trails will be constructed, or even if they will be constructed. Whether a trail will be constructed by hand or machine-built has usually already been determined in the design and outlined in the final TMO.
A larger and more basic question is: should the team build the trail or just ride it in?
Untold miles of trails have been created by a team riding them in. Most of these are user-created trails with many potential issues. If a trail has been designed and located as a sustainable trail, can it be ridden in? Certainly, there are scenarios where that answer is “yes,” but before committing to this path, the team should make sure it is making an informed decision by looking at the pros and cons.
Pros of Riding a Trail In
Cons (or Potential Risks) of Riding a Trail In
It’s important to assess the benefits and the risks. If the risks are low, perhaps riding the trail in is a viable option, but it should be the exception, not the rule. An alternative could be to construct the portions of the trail that need tight construction control and have higher risks and ride in those portions that need less control and have lower risks, but even with this, the treads will be inconsistent and the flow will be inconsistent. Is this the product the team had envisioned?
Once the decision has been made to construct the trails, there are four basic methods to accomplish that goal: force account, volunteers and groups, contract, and hybrid contract.
The force account method is when the agency performs the work with its own personnel and equipment. The agency must have skilled personnel and enough of them to efficiently perform the work. The other key ingredient is having the proper size and types of equipment to accomplish the construction tasks.
With the volunteers and groups method, a local club or organization takes on the construction of the project. Volunteer labor is often used as match dollars in grants, and many grantors require or will score an application higher if there is a volunteer component. There are also agencies and associations (like the Student Conservation Association) that have organized trail crews available for hire. With both of these, having skilled personnel, experienced supervision, and the proper equipment is essential.
The construction method selected will determine the scope and complexity of the documents needed for the preconstruction packet. One of the documents that forms the foundation for all of the other preconstruction data is the trail management objective (TMO). Drafted after developing the concept plan and finalized after location and design, the TMO provides key information that triggers guidelines and parameters for design, construction, and maintenance. The TMO guides whether a rock gets taken out for a smooth tread or left as a technical feature. The TMO must be treated as a guideline and adjusted for regional and actual site conditions (there are too many variables with any trail to have a one-size-fits-all set of parameters). It can't be used as an agency-wide standardized document. It is intended to be trail specific. Construction drawings and specifications are then drafted to convey the desired output to whoever is performing the work.
A typical packet includes the following:
|Pinnacle Peak Trail #801|
|0.00||Begin construction at Pinnacle Peak trailhead. Install entrance management barriers and signing as per typical section EM1.|
|0.05||Install 18”x14’ dual wall plastic culvert with headwall.|
|0.65||Construct armored rolling dip + lead-off ditch right.|
|0.86||Choke tread width down to fit between the two boulders. Do not disturb the boulders.|
|0.91||Cut danger tree 25’ on left.|
|1.01||Construct turnout right.|
|1.22||Begin 6” compacted trail hardening rock.|
|1.29||End trail hardening rock.|
|1.35||Junction with TR#802 right. Construct T junction as per typical section JCT2.|
|1.41||Entering rock garden for 35’. Track equipment over this section and do not excavate rocks.|
|1.48||Outslope grade sag to drain left. Construct sump as staked.|
|1.52||Construct turnout left.|
|1.59||Do not disturb rock step-up. Construct easy-out on left as staked.|
|1.73||Junction with Road 2315-650. End construction.|
|A trail log is one useful piece of information for the preconstruction packet.|
If the packet is complete and well written, the vision can be adequately transferred to the contractor, but that doesn’t always happen.
|1||Experience in performing mechanical OHV trail construction and reconstruction.|
|2||Experience in operating a trail dozer with a blade of 48” or less. Operators must have 2000 hours minimum operating time.|
|3||Demonstrate experience in operating in a variety of soil types and topography.|
|4||Demonstrate understanding of the physical characterisitics necessary for a motorized trail to be rideable while protecting surrounding resources. These characterisitics include design (difficulty level, user needs, safety); engineering (inslope, outslope, tangents, circular curves, superelevation, drainage, “rideable flow”); resource protection (conserving soil, maintaining aesthetics, protecting vegetation, using care and discretion when parking or turning equipment, protecting sensitive plant populations and cultural resources).|
|5||Actual OHV riding experience of the contractor and/or employee. (Riders generally have a better understanding of the items in #4.)|
|6||Ability to follow and perform scheduled preventative maintenance on a trail dozer.|
|7||Ability to recognize mechanical issues before they become mechanical breakdowns.|
|8||Ability to train others in trail dozer operations.|
|9||Member of the Professional Trailbuilders Association.|
“Construction” means moving dirt and includes new trail construction, existing trail reconstruction, or trail relocation. Regardless of who does the construction, the nine-step process is, or should be, the same.
Note: Though the process is the same for most trails, the sequencing of the process may not be the same due to the vegetation, topography, or complexity of the project. On many machine-built trails, grubbing, slash disposal, and pioneering occur simultaneously.
No matter how the work is performed, there is a need for some level of construction oversight and project management. The agency usually provides this management, and the designers help to carry the project vision through construction. This work can also be outsourced to a contractor. Construction management includes project coordination, compliance inspection, documentation and reporting, information sharing, recognizing and avoiding pitfalls, and recognizing the need for change.
Pitfalls for construction can be:
Great trails are created through planning, design and construction. Great trails are kept through great maintenance and management.
There is a perception that since trails have a small footprint, they are simple: anyone can design one and anyone can build one. That misconception has resulted in poor riding experiences, erosion, visual scars, resource impacts, and ultimately closures. Though riders or the motorized use are often blamed for these impacts, it was the poor location, design, and construction that created them. With a closure, riders lose recreation opportunities that often are not replaced. What isn’t often recognized is that a closure represents a failure by the agency to effectively provide for and manage the use. One of the purposes of this book is to help agencies avoid that situation by giving them the tools to create great trails, either by building new ones or fixing old ones. A great trail is a success story. It’s a win-win for the environment, the agency, and the riders. We can achieve that success only by the effective and equal implementation of all five components of the Great Trail Continuum.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter:
Ride Right Today, Ride Again Tomorrow Constructing an OHV project often involves natural surface roads. Almost every OHV trail project includes these roads to some degree, whether it’s using natural surface roads as trails or converting abandoned roads to trails. There are benefits and risks to both, but often it is easier from an environmental analysis standpoint to re-purpose an existing impact rather than create a new one.
A road conversion is not a paper exercise. It is all too common for managers to take a natural surface road, delete it from the road inventory, add it to the trail inventory, put up a sign, and call it a new trail. This is really the first step, but it does nothing to address the inherent issues with roads nor does it address the lack in quality of the recreation experience. Not dealing with those issues will likely result in resource impacts and management problems, if not management failure. The second step is to physically transform the road corridor into a natural-looking trail corridor with a fun, flowing trail.
Because they are existing infrastructure, there is a temptation to use snowmobile trails as multi-season trails. There are pros and cons to using snowmobile routes and trails that the managers must evaluate to make an informed decision.
If the decision is to use a groomed snowmobile trail, then managers and designers can incorporate the same techniques described for natural surface road to trail conversions, but on a conservative scale. Whatever is done must not hinder grooming operations, including OHV trail signing. If winter signing is not applicable to summer use, then those signs should be covered or replaced with multi-use signs or changed to fit the season.
There are political benefits of effective trail closure and rehabilitation. Past impacts need to be rectified to ensure future use. Although riders tend to see closure as a negative - a loss of riding opportunity whether it was good or bad - closures are usually a necessity for effective OHV management. The goal for an effective closure is to plan it and implement it so it changes from a lose-win to a win-win scenario.
1. Provide an alternate route. Before starting closure and rehabilitation work, it is essential that the existing use is redirected. The best way to accomplish that is by:
The key point is to not close a trail before opening another route and to try to give riders something more than they lost. When riders realize that they can still get to where they want to go or have a new higher quality opportunity, compliance with the closure will significantly increase.
2. Manage the riders’ eyes. If managers don’t want the riders to go somewhere, avoid focusing their eyes on that location. This is especially important for closures and rehabilitation. Focus the riders’ eyes away from the corridor to be closed so the closure will be more effective.
3. Restore natural drainage patterns. If the trail to be closed is a fall line trail, water will run down it and not in the natural drainageways. Install lead-off ditches to intercept this water and direct it back into the natural drainage course.
4. Install erosion control. Controlling water volume and velocity is essential to effective closure and rehabilitation. Erosion control structures need to be installed to heal the impacts of past erosion and reduce the potential for future erosion.
Here are some considerations for erosion control methods:
5. Rip or scarify. Scarifying is scratching the surface and ripping is gouging the soil 12 to 18 inches deep. The goal is to break up the compacted soil to make it a good seedbed and to increase the soil’s capacity to absorb water. Whether to rip or scarify depends on the soil type and depth of compaction. Whichever method is used, it is best to rip in a sinuous line rather than a straight line. This is accomplished by alternately locking one track and then the other. The “S” pattern improves the aesthetics of the product, loosens the soil better, produces smaller clumps of soil, reduces the potential flow of water down the ruts, and often drags in vegetation and debris from the sides of the road or trail.
6. Disguise the corridor. This involves dragging in rocks, brush, stumps, logs, and clumps of vegetation to break up the line of the old corridor and visually disguise it. At a minimum, this is done as far as the eye can see at the termini of the closure. But if the trail can be seen from other vantage points, then the whole length of the closure needs to be treated. As in road conversions, an excavator is a good tool to quickly accomplish this work. Don’t go overboard with falling trees or piling brush to block the corridor. The goal is to make the corridor look natural and a mass of jackstrawed trees can actually draw attention to the corridor. That being said, it can be difficult to close and disguise a corridor that has been used traditionally by wildlife or livestock. In these cases, fencing or heavier debris placement is needed to discourage use.
Depending on the tree species and size (juniper works well), consider creating living barriers by making a backcut only and carefully pushing the tree over so it remains attached to the stump. The tree will stay green and provide more of a visual barrier to disguise the corridor, and a tree that is attached to the stump is much harder to move out of the way.
7. Re-establish vegetation. In most places, this is best done in the fall so the seed can germinate with the warmth and moisture of the spring; however, it is also best to seed or replace forest duff immediately after the ripping or scarifying. Some soils can form a crust that can inhibit the penetration of the seed into the soil and reduce germination success. Transplanting clumps of vegetation with the roots intact can provide an instant visual barrier that will last.
In some regions, seed doesn’t take well and there can often be better success by transplanting native vegetation. This can be labor-intensive and expensive, but it can also make a great volunteer project.
Consult with a specialist to determine the best seed mix for the climate and region or if native seed mixes are required. If it is unclear if the use pattern has been changed, then seed with a quick-growing annual seed. This will supply the needed visual effect and soil stabilization in the short term until the more expensive treatments can be applied for the long term.
8. Install signing and barriers. Sometimes just the disguising will be enough to deter use, but signing and barriers are often needed for a site that is highly visible or has had a high level of traditional use. Sometimes a sign can be installed first and if that doesn’t work, then back it up with a barrier. A good sign explains the closure, the reasoning for the closure, and redirects the riders to the new routes
Here are some thoughts regarding signing and barriers:
9. Utilize the 4Es. Effective application of the 4Es is essential to the success of any closure effort.
Some key points are:
Expect setbacks, but use the 4Es to determine the cause and beef up the engineering, education, or enforcement to correct them.
Here are some of the elements discussed in this chapter: