Building Hiking Trails

Cattle Chute Bridge and Railroad Tie Steps

Yesterday I was out hiking and working on the trails around our house.  Several years ago I started hiking for several reasons, to correct some knee problems (it worked), to lose extra pounds (it worked), and to be inspired by nature (it is still working).  I began hiking at a nearby state park, Carter Caves.  I love hiking there, but I was driving every day, thirteen miles one way.  It occurred to me that our house is surrounded on most sides with woods.  I should hike in and explore our own wilderness.

I began just walking in the woods.  I began on the old rock and dirt road that was once used by wagons, horses, and people on foot before cars came to our neck of the woods.  The waterfall video is along this part of the route.  But where to walk when the road ended as old non-used roads are sure to do?  I thought I could even get more exercise and enjoyment from building my own trails.  I started with a rake mapping out sections one day at a time.  I worked with what was already there to some extent – paths walked by cows we once had on the farm, and paths used by deer.  Still there were deviations from those and brush and felled trees to tend to.  My husband helped me on  weekends for those harder jobs.  There were creeks to cross, and hills that were just a little too steep.  We used recycled materials, old railroad posts, and cow chutes from the barn to build steps on those steep places and bridges across creeks.

After a couple of years I had a trail of approximately two miles, a circular path.  The next stage was working on the other side of the farm.  With part of that section completed I have a total of four miles of path.

It’s a constant upkeep.  A flood took out two of our bridges.  We are now planning on rebuilding once again with recycled materials.  I have a minor reroute plan in mind this time.  The new bridge probably won’t get built until spring.  Once again after winter and with this warmer weather I am out clearing and re-raking the path.  It is sort of a Zen practice with me.  I love to be out in nature.  Today marks another warm day and I will be out there again.

I’m thankful we live in this beautiful spot surrounded by trees.


5 thoughts on “Building Hiking Trails

  1. Brilliant! Opening up your land to low-impact use and getting some exercise in the bargain. I grew up on 5-acres that backed onto 20 acres of private forest and often miss having trails right out the back door. Hopefully we’ll get to retire there in 18 years or so 🙂

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