Posts Categorized: Trail Stewardship



Trail Construction, White Mountains

Trail Construction - Rerouted section (left) of the Mt Tecumseh Trail in the Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.
September 2011, Mt Tecumseh Trail – Trail Construction
 

Trail Construction and Maintenance, White Mountains – In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene caused massive destruction along the East coast of the United States. The White Mountain National Forest was officially closed during the storm. Many trails in the White Mountains were damaged, and required extensive trail work. And this series of photos shows the trail work done to one trail that suffered storm damage from Tropical Storm Irene.

A section of the Mt Tecumseh Trail washed out and had to be rerouted. The above photo shows the junction of the trail reroute (left), and the section of trail that washed out (right) shortly after a Maine Forest Service crew cut the reroute in 2011. Forest Service chose the reroute location and marked it, and a Maine Forest Service crew, helping reopen trails damaged from Irene, did the cutting. The closed section of trail was also brushed in. This information is direct from Forest Service. Note the tree in the reroute (left) with the orange flagging on it.

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Trail Blazing, Trail Stewardship

A properly applied trail blaze along the Artist's Bluff Path in  White Mountains, New Hampshire.
Proper Trail Blaze – Artist's Bluff Path, New Hampshire
 

Trail Blazing, Trail Stewardship – Painted trail blazing (paint marks on trees that mark the path of a trail) along the White Mountains trail system is an endless complaint among outdoor enthusiasts. Either the trail is excessively blazed or not blazed enough. I don’t mind the trails that have little trail blazing, but I'm not a fan of the excessive trail blazing.

Proper trail blazing protocol seems to vary among the trail maintenance organizations, but the ending result is the same. Most of these organizations agree that a standard trail blaze is a two inch by six inch rectangle placed about head height on trees. No painting of arrows, only a single vertical blaze, should be painted on a tree. For more information on blazing see the Randolph Mountain Club’s trail blazing protocol page.

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Trail Ladders & Stairs, Trail Stewardship

Franconia Notch State Park - Trail ladder along the Hi-Cannon Trail. This trail leads to the summit of Cannon Mountain in the White Mountains, New Hampshire USA.
Traditional Ladder – Hi-Cannon Trail, Cannon Mountain
 

Trail Ladders & Stairs, Trail Stewardship – Today’s blog article focuses on a keyword search term. I chose one search term, trail ladder, and searched my image archive to see what imagery I have available that represents this area of trail stewardship. And because staircases and ladders are often considered to be one and the same among some hikers, I have included trail staircases.

Here in the New Hampshire White Mountains, we have some steep trails. And if it wasn’t for trail ladders we would have a heck of a time hiking up and down some trails. Can you imagine ascending or descending the Six Husbands Trail or the Hi-Cannon Trail without ladders? Six Husbands Trail would be interesting.

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Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire

July 2016 - Newly built stone steps along the Mt Tecumseh Trail in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire during the month of July. Minimal stonework should be done along trails, and it should look natural and blend in with the surroundings.
New Staircase (2016) – Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire
 

Mt Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire For five years (2011-2016), I documented issues on Mt Tecumseh in New Hampshire. In my opinion, what has happened to the Mt Tecumseh Trail over the last few years is a disgusting display of conservation and trail stewardship. The new stonework built along this trail is all about quantity, not quality, and I question what low impact, sustainable, trail work is.

In August 2016, for the second time since 2012, the Pemigewasset District of Forest Service, at the request of the Washington Office, inspected the ongoing stonework along the Mt Tecumseh Trail. According to a letter I received from Forest Service Supervisor, Tom Wagner, the stonework is “satisfactory” for Forest Service Trail construction standards. And they did find issues that would be taken care of in the future. The definition of satisfactory is “fulfilling expectations or needs; acceptable, though not outstanding or perfect.”

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Scree Walls, Trail Stewardship

Scree walls, hiker descending Boott Spur Trail in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. Afternoon sun reflects off the Wildcat Ski Mountain. A scree wall is in view. Scree walls are built on the edge of trails to discourage hikers from going off trail. Building these small walls helps protect the fragile alpine habitat.
Scree Walls – Boott Spur Trail, New Hampshire
 

Scree Walls, Trail Stewardship – Today’s blog article focuses on a keyword search term. I chose one search term in this case “scree wall” and searched my image archive to see what imagery I have available that represents this area of trail stewardship. As photographer, these keyword searches help me determine what subject matter I need more coverage of. The below imagery showcases this search term.

In the alpine zones of the New Hampshire White Mountains, trail stewards build scree walls on the edge of trails. These non intrusive walls keep hikers on a defined path in the alpine zones, and this helps protect the fragile alpine habitat. Some of the alpine flowers that grow in New Hampshire are rare and only grow in the alpine zones of New Hampshire so protecting this habitat is essential.

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Rock Cairns, Trail Stewardship

Appalachian Trail - Rock cairns near the summit of Mount Moosilauke during the summer months in the White Mountains, New Hampshire. This area is excellent for hiking.
Appalachian Trail – Mount Moosilauke, New Hampshire
 

Rock Cairns, Trail Stewardship – A rock cairn is a man-made pile of rocks that marks a landmark or the route of a hiking trail above tree line. They have been used for many centuries and vary in size from one foot to massive piles of rocks. The word “cairn” is Scottish and means a “heap of stones”. Cairns are found throughout the New Hampshire White Mountains, and they make great photo subjects. My favorite ones are along the Appalachian Trail on the summit of Mount Moosilauke.

For some time now there has been an increasing concern about rock stacking (random piles of rocks) on public lands. People are innocently building rock cairn look a likes along beaches, rivers, and trails, and it is drawing both positive and negative attention. Out west, rock stacking is a major problem. Here in the White Mountains, fake cairns built along the trails can cause navigation confusion for hikers, but that is for another blog article.

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Sustainable Trail Work, White Mountains

Open stone culvert along the Mount Tecumseh Trail in New Hampshire.
Open Stone Culvert – Tecumseh Trail, New Hampshire
 

Sustainable Trail Work, White Mountains – Here in New Hampshire, all we hear about is environmental friendly and sustainable trail work. And how important it is to conserve the trails for future generations. As an environmental photographer, I support this approach to preserving the trail system. And up until a few years ago, I have always believed that the organizations maintaining our trails practiced what they preached.

I recently made my monthly hike to Mt Tecumseh to photograph the summit vandalism. I was on the Tecumseh Trail after a rainstorm and was surprised at how many open culverts (water bars) were dry. The purpose of a trail culvert is to drain water off and away from the trail, and the culverts included in this blog article were all dry.

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