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Trail Crew Update: September

This month was spent on the Red Hollow trail in Cedar Canyon. Due to the heavy rainfall, there was quite a bit of erosion damage. Soil is the basis of every trail- it’s the support. Bill works to manage the soil and keep that support in place. When these heavy rains come in, they combine with gravity to remove the soil. What’s often left behind after this event are run-off trenches. To fix these run-off trenches, Bill lines them with rock and boulders then fills in the rest of the space with dirt mined elsewhere. He has to haul each bucket of dirt by hand to the run-off trenches which is time consuming and exhausting.

In addition to the trench work on Red Hollow trail, Bill took the time to create out-slopes that help prevent run-off trenches from forming in the future. These allow the water to “sheet” off on the downhill side. He also creates “grade changes” where feasible to help prevent the run off from gaining momentum and gathering speed which causes even more erosion.

Employee trail crew day:

Here at Red Rock Bicycle Co, we are riders. That means that we impact the trails just as much as anyone else and we do everything that we can to take care of those trails. As part of our commitment, we often have employee Trail Crew days. On these occasions, Red Rock Bicycle employees go out to the trails with Bill as volunteers. This month, we worked on the Red Hollow trail. Having a group of people makes a difference as it allows Bill to be able to move rocks larger than he could move by himself into some of the problem areas.

Red Hollow Before

Red Hollow After

Red Hollow Trailhead


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“Soil erosion is the trail builder’s worst enemy. Soil erosion is also the single largest pollutant (by volume) of our lakes and rivers.

It’s important to understand how water and gravity combine to move dirt before you install water control devices. If you travel enough trails, you will see examples of trail structures built with little understanding of Natures forces. You will save time, money, and your sanity if you get grounded in the basic physics first. 

Water has “carrying capacity. ” Water erodes soil surfaces by picking up soil particles and carrying them off. Damage depends on the amount of water involved and how fast it is moving. The higher the volume of water and the faster it travels the more dirt it will carry. 

Water also has “deposit ” ability. It can build soil surfaces by getting tired and dropping soil particles. If you slow water down, it loses its ability to carry soil and deposits it. You need to slow water down and get it off the trail but the location will determine what sort of water control or drainage structure you use. 

Water also affects soil strength. Generally dry soils are stronger than saturated soils, but fine dry soils are also susceptible to wind erosion or use patterns. Trail builders and maintainers need to be able to identify basic soils and know 11 their properties. Learning to identify trees and plants that are indicators of soil types will help you determine what exists for underlying soils and drainage. 

Erosion starts with raindrop erosion, and then progresses into sheet flow erosion, rill or gully erosion, and then channel erosion. As erosion increases, so do the problems; therefore it is very important to try to control erosion. It is easier to prevent rather than to repair erosion. 

Raindrop erosion occurs when falling raindrops dislodge exposed soil particles. The dislodged soil particles are suspended in the storm water runoff and can easily be transported great distances. 

Sheet erosion occurs when surface storm water runoff travels across an entire layer of exposed soil. 

Rill and gully erosion occurs when surface water runoff concentrates into small grooves cutting into the soil’s surface. 

Channel erosion results when the above described types of erosion are uncontrolled, resulting in deep ruts and washouts.” (read more)