Most people don't think too much about dirt. Others think even less about the trails that they ride or walk or ski
. "What's the big deal? It's just a path through the woods. Why maintain them since they've probably been there forever?"
It's true that most people probably don't think much about the woodland paths that they walk or ride
until they look really bad and severely eroded. There's a common misbelief that the trails that we use probably came before the white man; that they were created by the Indians or big game migrations. Actually, probably 90% are 100 years old or less, with the majority of trails created by motorcyclists and modern day hikers. In most cases, not much thought was put into the trail design.
The result: trails that need a significant amount of upkeep. It's true that a well designed trail will last generations, but the fact of the matter is that most trails aren't terribly well designed. They need work.
What's the number one reason for trail degradation? Water!
Even if no one ever set foot or wheel on the trails, the effects of water will gully, erode and ruin what seems like a perfectly good trail. Introduce people to the landscape and the problem only magnifies. Whether it's hiking boots or wheels, trail use loosens the soils on top of the trails, making them even more susceptible to erosion. The Grand Canyon probably started off as a trickle. You get the idea!
Trails need to be maintained, and all trail users bear a moral responsibility to take care of the trials that they use. It's as simple as that. Hiking groups, like the Appalachian Mountain Club, are doing their part. NEMBA, and the hundreds of mountain bike groups like NEMBA, are doing theirs.
Below are a few of the things that we've done. The funny thing about working the trails is that it's pretty addicting. Not only is it a lot of fun spending a few hours getting dirty and doing some good, but you'll never walk or ride a trail again without realizing all that goes into designing a sustainable trail. It's both a science and an art! Philip Keyes
Past NEMBA Trail Maintenance Projects Menu
Go to the top of the Trail Maintenance document.