We bought our home two years ago and one of the property features (that didn’t really interest us) was a “garden” area back in the woods. No green thumbs here! I’ve referenced this back “meadow” in earlier posts as it’s a great spot for stargazing. The area had not been used in many years so my love had cleared a trail to it about a month after we moved in. It’s remained an out-and-back trail until this winter.
I took advantage of the cold weather (less chance of snakes, bees, and ticks) and cleared not one, but three new trails. Now we have multiple loop hikes and can use parts of our property I don’t think had ever been used before. (We’re only the second owners.)
I knew a bit about trail work from my experience trail building with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a few summers ago, but I also spent some time researching trail methods and ideas. I learned:
- Plot first. Walk the area and plan the trail around interesting features, make sure it’s on your property, and try to use switchbacks on steep inclines. I wanted one trail to go past what I believe is now the oldest and fattest tree on the property. I wanted another to go past some interesting rock formations, and another to meander along a section of our intermittent “crik” we hadn’t been able to access before.
- Limit lining the trail. We didn’t know this when the initial out-and-back trail was made and we had lined it with logs, rocks, and branches. During rainstorms this makes a perfect channel for water, promotes erosion, and has caused some trail loss and lots of loose stones. I’ve only lined level sections of the trail or kept the border on the higher side of any slopes.
- Make signs. Some people choose to name their trails or sections of the trail. I think this is more of a necessity for those with huge properties that need a way of identifying/referencing areas. Eventually I’ll post little signs for the sections, but mainly for charm.
My friend gave me a fairy door for Christmas, and created her own ‘fairy kit’ for it too! You can install fairy doors along the baseboard in your home, or at the base of a tree, and they are ornamental fun ‘portals’ for fairies to enter/leave our world. I gave our biggest tree the honor of the fairy door.
With all of the wildlife we have around here I wanted to add some features to support the non-mystical creatures of our woods. I ordered an owl house and we installed it on one of the loop trails. I’m researching bat houses next.
I’m typically not a fan of benches (spiders and bees eventually take over and prohibit using them), but there are a few spots I like to stop and enjoy the views so I may eventually add some sort of seating arrangements.
I loved our property before, but I’m falling in love with it all over again. I’d love to spend more time in the woods, but writing projects and deadlines have been keeping me away. To try and get out there as much as possible I walk all the trails after I let the chickens out each morning, use for trail running during my workouts, plus I walk our dog on them too.
I’m looking forward to seeing how the trail changes with the seasons. Here’s a piece of spring, a baby oak lifting its head for the first time: