Last summer, my favorite recovery ride was to leave my house, ride to the Wolf River Trails (about 15 minutes away), and take the Blue trail to the Greenline, turn off, and ride back home through the north side of Shelby Farms. The blue trail was a lot of fun, especially one section that people seemed to avoid because there is a more “popular” bypass on the nearby, parallel white trail. Unfortunately, over the winter, people destroyed the blue trail by riding it when it was wet. Not like, “I’m leaving huge ruts down the trail” wet, but, “it’s dry except for the mudholes” wet (it’s prettymuch how all of the trails around here meet their winter demise since our soil doesn’t drain well). It essentially expanded all of the mudholes until they reached a natural barrier of some sort- making several of them nearly 10 feet wide. At best, you could ride one dry, choppy line around the outside of the hole, and, at worst, there are spots on the trail that are unrideable unless you go through a large hole filled with stagnant muck.
A couple of weeks ago, Poolboy Matt took it upon himself to go out with a shovel and start filling in some of the smaller holes. He spent about 3 hours working on about a mile long section of trail, and, with just a shovel and a lot of sweat, rehabbed the small piece of trail back to its former glory.
So, on Labor day, instead of a recovery ride following Hard Nox, he and I set out with shovels, a handsaw, and a rake. We spent about 2.5 hours in the morning and 2.5 hours after lunch, adding more dirt to some spots he’d already started on and starting new on a few more spots. Since a lot of the spots had multiple lines through/around them, we took to closing them back in and creating one line through the wide spot (making the singletrack single again). Also, since parts of the trails are popular for horseback riding, we cleared some privet and dead branches from rider height in order to make the lines we created accessible to all trail users.
I did before and after photos on a couple of spots:
This hole had expanded to the tree on the right of the photo and the brush pile on the left. Trail users started going around the tree, but at that section of trail, the line around the tree is much slower, and the “high” side of the trail is actually the line on the left (it’s been very dry here the last couple of weeks, so the hole is a lot drier than “normal,” which allows people to go on either side of the trail, further reinforcing the widening of that spot)
We “outlined” the fill area with branches and moved dirt (from well off the trail) into the low spot. Matt trimmed back privet to improve the line of sight and we used the branches to close off the right side to allow it to be reclaimed by the woods. This being one of the popular horse riding sections of trail, we also took care to clean out the headspace approaching the new, filled in line (look in the background of the before shot @the large deadfall caught up in vines and privet)
We’re essentially using large, sturdy deadfall to outline a path through the wide/low spot and filling one side in with dirt. It creates a small “bench” trail around one side of the mudhole. We realize those spots won’t be maintenance-free, especially as the dirt is moved around and packed in, and, in the long term, as there are heavy rains, people who ride the trail when they shouldn’t, and as the branches that we’ve used to border the spots start to decompose.
However, I think it’s a good start.