7/22: West Ridge Trailhead, Mud, and Herd Paths

RAIN totals 12.28" for June and July in the gauge at Orange NH on the west slope of Mt. Cardigan. Trails that usually dry out by June were muddy like in the usual Spring mud season in July. The usual horde of hikers slogged up and down the trail this Spring and Summer, and the ground is so saturated that every trailside rock that has a spring under it is flowing now.

These sites are not new, but they add to the erosion of soil by heavy rains running down trails already churned by many boots. We tried to resolve this on the lowest 0.2 miles of trail on Saturday morning.


We were Steve, Dave, Scott, Craig, and Bob the sawyer. Sawyers working on State land have to be trained and approved by them, provide their own saw and PPE, work safely. They expand exponentially the number of trees the crew can use. More later, but first the mud at the trailhead steps.

Water flowed from the hillside and ran down the trail. We dug a ditch along the trail just under the hillside, caught the water, and brought it down beside the existing steps we built ca 1986. That flows into an open-top wood culvert and flows off beside the road We then spread 20 pails of bank run crush gravel on the trail from a pile left just down the road. That is now tamped by us and trampled in by hikers, the water has a ditch beside it to drain away, and hikers are staying on the gravel.. Already the trail is much dryer and firmer.

Scott working on the step drainage

After lunch we traded pails, hazel hoe, rakes and shovels for chainsaw and webbing loops. In two hours we harvested about 60 blowdowns and large limbs from the woods, and used them to fill herd paths beside the trail. No live trees were cut, we hope hikers think it is easier to stay on the trail, and erosion will be limited to the actual trail as long as they do... 5 crew @ 6 hours = 30 hours. NEXT!

- Craig Sanborn, CHVTC

Sawyer in action
building barricades
job done