Trail Work Guidelines

Not sure what to do what it comes to trail work? We have you covered. Thanks to Nathan Frechen for putting together this guide.


  • 18-24” wide to start. More isn’t really necessary and just takes more time and effort
  • Remove all duff (leaves, needles, etc) to get down to mineral soil. Distribute over a wide area, don’t just stack up alongside the trail.
  • Benching should be at angle, ideally close to the slope of the original sidehill. Full benching is almost always preferred – bench into the hillside. Don’t use the dirt from benching to create tread on the downhill side unless absolutely unavoidable – it creates unstable tread that will eventually erode.
  • Shoot for a 5 degree outslope to help with drainage.


  • Avoid routing through depressions unless unavoidable
  • Avoid berms that will just trap water.
  • Create or enhance natural drains that will funnel water off the trail. Ideally these won’t impact the flow of the trail or really be noticeable. Reverse grades can also be used along sidehill traverses to channel water down at select locations. Make the water go down the hillside, not make a river down the trail.


  • Remove branches, vegetation, brush within a 2’ corridor alongside the trail. That will prevent needing to come back the very next year to do the exact same thing.
  • Brushing first (then limbing) is more efficient.
  • Vary the cut width and angles for log-outs to lessen the appearance of a “tunnel”
  • Cut all branches back to the trunk to avoid having impalers

Click the link below to see how it should look –


2 thoughts on “Trail Work Guidelines”

  1. I’d like to add that trimming vegetation away from level trail as much as possible without blowing valuable trail work time could prevent growth for as long as 16 months.

    Consider this rule to trail work ethic: The more work you pit in the longer the trail will remains in great shape. Some trails don’t get touched for as long as a year so every square foot cleared counts.

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