LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Trail Building and Design discussion. This was formerly the restricted access MMBA/REI trail school program forum.

Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby jajones » May 1st, 2010, 6:18 am

Amen, Brother!
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Geff » May 1st, 2010, 3:33 pm

jajones wrote:Amen, Brother!


What Jason said! I get a fairly unique perspective since I both ride and run the trails...and some trails have no bikes on them. But since this thread began, I have been more alert to where there are leaves and where there aren't. I gotta tell ya...the trail with leaves is in better condition under foot than those where no leaves are present. You can really tell the difference in the overall trail condition. LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:16 pm

Geff wrote:
jajones wrote:Amen, Brother!


What Jason said! I get a fairly unique perspective since I both ride and run the trails...and some trails have no bikes on them. But since this thread began, I have been more alert to where there are leaves and where there aren't. I gotta tell ya...the trail with leaves is in better condition under foot than those where no leaves are present. You can really tell the difference in the overall trail condition. LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!


Amen Brother -- Hulk Hogan
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:17 pm

No matter what the composite of the soil, leaves will improve the trail. Leaf blowers are bad.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:23 pm

c0nsumer wrote:
Beth wrote:I have been watching this thread since it was created last fall and am very interested in the outcome. I am considering taking this subject on as my master degree thesis project. One of the main criteria in selecting a project is if anyone cares. It appears some of you do. My tentative plan is to clear portions of a few trails and then monitor them for the issues being discussed in this thread (erosion, freeze and thaw rate, slipperiness, etc...). In your opinion, is this a possible project and would anyone be willing to submit regular feedback on the condition of the trails?


I think we'd all love some formalized research on this topic.


Indeed! However, Michigan would be a sandbox if someone scooped up all the leaves every year. It would be one giant sand dune. The fine till we call sand was dropped here by a mile deep glacier that's a bleep of a lot of sand. Leaves are one reason why the state is not a dust bowl. Study all you like. The only thing clearing leaves is good for is fast lap times over the short term - until the trail gets clapped out from blow drying and leaf blowing and raking too. Leaving he leaves makes it a fair race too. Everyone has to ride them.

IMO

Chris (18 years racing and riding on MI trails)
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:27 pm

Loren wrote:So I wandered around Novi some tonight trying to decide if it helped or not...

It's feels like things dried out there earlier this year, but then it's also generally quite dry out there. The swampy areas are lower than last spring, there's not a lot of running water in the streams, and maybe it's just the weather this year that makes it feel like it dried faster. Not definitive.

I didn't clear any of the 2 track except that shared with the singletrack. In those cases, I cleared a singletrack path. The two track that I didn't clear seems softer than the path next to it that I did. The 1.9 semislick tires that I had on the bike could tell the difference, and you could see my tire tracks in the soft areas but not the cleared part, but it's not that dramatic.

There are areas where people veered off of the dry, cleared singletrack in the past few days when the ground was softer. Here's an example:
Image
This is flat ground and the trail tread is slightly lower than the surrounding ground so there shouldn't be much difference, but there is. Someone's tire sank over an inch below the level of the trail next to it. So maybe it helped in places like this.

Anyway, that's what I saw tonight. Others have many more years watching the Farm in spring than I do. Let's hear from them...


Good photo, but this is due to trail compaction and has nothing to do with the presence or absence of leaves -- just packing the air spaces out of the trail.

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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:35 pm

Nelg wrote:
centralRH wrote:
Jason,

I agree with you when it comes to soils that are sandy loam. As you have stated leaves or the addition of organic material will help create a more structured soil that holds together better. There are other soil situations where it doesn't really matter that much. You won't improve the structure of a nice clay soil that is packed hard. There is no place for the organic material to pack into the spaces between the clay particles.


Bingo!

Leaves at a place like Hanson Hills should be left on trail they need other material to hold the sand together. At a place like the tree farm, you may as well sweep them off as they won't be of any help. In fact, a hard packed layer of leaves creates a membrane that actually slows evaporation making it take longer to dry out in the spring or after rain.



Riding a clay trail -- on with high humus in it -- of leaves for too many consecutive years could change the soil humus level. Organic matter (leaves) are needed to maintain the clay-like nature of the soil. If you could decompose enough leaves on Hansen Hills, it would be like the tree farm or Ithaca. This process is very slow. So don't screw with it. Leave the leaves alone.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby chrismaltby » May 1st, 2010, 10:38 pm

centralRH wrote:As I stated before it all depends on various factors. Why would you want to build up the soil on a well cut bench that is down to mineral soil? During construction of a proper bench you will removed the leaves and organic soil to get down to mineral soil and a nice compact trail surface with proper outslope. Building up the organic soil kind of defeats the purpose of getting down to mineral soil in the first place. In this situation removing the leaves allows the trail to dry more quickly (especially come spring). In areas with fall line construction and/or sandy soils I can see leaving them to build up the soil because you are losing your existing soil due to poor construction and/or soil.

I believe you can list a large number of scenarios for removal vs. not depending on conditions.

What type of mineral soil do you speak of?
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Spinwheel » May 3rd, 2010, 8:09 pm

Spinwheel wrote:PK wrote: ?With a engineered trail tread that in most places is clay, Addison needs the leaves removed.
He went on to say that trails with a tread that is mostly sand, the leaves help.?


From my experience at Hickory Glen this is true ? the soil is sandy and leaves help in a couple of ways:

- During heavy rains, leaves break the flow of water running down a slope and act like a shield. Running water causes erosion because, over time, the sand is filtered from the organic matter (just a guess).

- After a rain, as the trail dries, leaves protect the soil from foot and tire traffic. I experienced this at the Hick a few weeks ago, when after a light rain I rode from the trailhead to the new bowl (about 300 yds from the trailhead). Of course, I wasn?t making pizza cutter damage, but left tracks on some greasy muddy areas, but left no trace as I glided over leaf covered trail. (did anyone catch that??)

The trail tread at the Hick is rapidly changing ? its still is a great water shedding trail, however, the classic sand pits & greasy-after-rain spots are forming (some have been in place for a few years). IMO leaves slow the processes that work over time to create erosion, sandy and muddy spots, and the decomposition of leaves prolongs the life of the tread.



About an inch of rain fell at the Hick on Saturday, these pictures were taken around 1:00 pm Sunday and illustrate the kind of erosion I attempted to explain in the previous post - the kind that leaf cover would slow.

Images re-hosted and linked 10/31/2015: The following images were taken after a short heavy morning rain in April 2010 near the end of the trail.
This section of trail had been leaf-blow free of leaves after the fall of 2009 (before winter).


Top of slope looking uphill
Image

Top of slope looking downhill - before the first curve - - for perspective, the stick in the trail is a yardstick
Image

after the first curve....trail material running downhill - the organic matter and sand are separated as they tumble downhill
Image

after first curve closeup
Image

bottom of slope where the sand stops running downhill and the organic matter continues to the lowest spot, eventually forming a combination "sand and mud pit"
Image
Last edited by Spinwheel on October 31st, 2015, 10:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby Geff » May 3rd, 2010, 8:59 pm

Hard to argue with that. Thanks!
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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby scat silvurz » May 3rd, 2010, 11:14 pm

all those trails would survive a lot better if you didn't have anyone walking, riding, or even touching them....Don't even look at it...!

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Re: LEAVE THEM LEAVES ALONE!!!

Postby mr_opjones » May 4th, 2010, 5:52 am

scat silvurz wrote:all those trails would survive a lot better if you didn't have anyone walking, riding, or even touching them....Don't even look at it...!


Trails are meant to be walked and rode on, but not leaf blown.
GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE!!

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