the relentless pursuit of perfection

trail IMPROVEMENT projects

With over 200 km (120+ miles) of trails to maintain, the work is never ending for our hardworking field team. During the winter months, our trails team is busy grooming the trails to perfection on a nightly basis. People often ask what we do when the snow melts. For starters, we stop being nocturnal. Coffee consumption may even decrease slightly. But the work continues! 

Starting right after grooming ceases for the year, we focus on transitioning the trails over to "summer" use- swapping out trail maps, opening/closing gates and updating signs where access changes, etc. We also have an opportunity to look at the snow on the trails and evaluate where snow accumulation was negatively impacted by the trees over the trail. We flag trees that negatively impacted the groomed trail due to debris or starving the trail of snow. This is a starting point for a more thorough evaluation, and a conversation with the landowners or land managers involved. When considering limbing or tree removal, snow capture is just one part of the equation. We also consider the benefit of the trail as a firebreak and overall health of the trail corridor. 

Our chipper is used almost daily in the summer months, as we work to continuously improve snowfall on the trails.

Limbing of some trailside trees is crucial to allowing snow to accumulate on the trails.

When considering a course of action for a tree that is either dropping significant debris on the winter trail or is capturing snow and preventing it from reaching the trail, we usually have three options:

1) Remove the tree. This gives the trail the most snow and the least debris.

2) Limb the tree. This mitigates the debris issue, but still leaves many limbs and trunk of the tree to intercept snow.

3) Leave the tree in place, to accommodate landowner desire or because it’s too small to climb, or if there is another reason to leave it in place.

If you’re a landowner with whom we have not yet spoken about the pink flagging on your section of trail, please email jon@methowtrails.org and let’s set up a time to walk your trail together.