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Theme: Long Hikes for Long Summer Days

A 20-Mile Hike through the South Skyline Region

Skyline to Sea

A Mid-Summer Experience

Other Features

Access to the Popular Stanford "Dish" Area Restricted Under Conservation Plan

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to Limit Bicycle Access

Take a Volunteer Vacation this Summer

Book Review: Handbook for Forest and Ranch Roads

Pat Oren's Secret Trail Work Motivator - Revealed!

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Meeting with Pan at Midnight - Rachel Oliver

Apogee - Brian Kunde


From the Editor

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Along the Trail: Member and Volunteer Notes

The Trail Companion

Summer 2000

Handbook for Forest and Ranch Roads

A guide for planning, designing, constructing, reconstructing, maintaining and closing wildland roads.

Prepared by William E. Weaver, Ph.D. and Danny K. Hagans, Pacific Watershed Associates for the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, June 1994. $20. (Available from the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, 405 Orchard Ave., Ukiah, CA 95482 (707) 468-9223.)

     Reviewed by Geoffrey Skinner

While a handbook on roads may seem out of place on the trail building reference shelf, this guide is loaded with useful information easily adapted to the world of trails. Bern Smith, former Trail Center President and Crew Leader, recommended this book to me and I recently ordered a copy from the Mendocino RCD. The authors emphasize low-impact construction, particularly as it applies to streams and watersheds. Anyone who hikes, bikes or rides has probably encountered poorly designed and constructed roads which have eroded or collapsed into watercourses, whether in the National Forests or in the old ranches which make up many of our regional parks. Unfortunately, the poorly designed trail will cause the same damage-trails can be regarded as very small roads, with all same issues of drainage and proper design. As anyone who has worked on trails knows, water can be a great force for destruction, particularly in heavy water years such 1997/1998. The better our understanding of why roads (and trails) fail, the better we can avoid making the same mistakes in future construction.
      Although much of the language will be familiar to anyone who has built trails, the many technical terms could make the handbook a difficult read for the layperson. Fortunately, the authors provide a fairly comprehensive glossary and numerous illustrations.

From the Introduction:
If you work in a wildland area, own forest or ranch land, or are concerned about our natural resources, this book is for you. It contains guidelines for developing and maintaining a single forest or ranch road or an entire wildland road-access system. It describes how to plan and design a stable road or road network in mountainous lands or gentle valley bottoms, and avoid many of the common pitfalls and environmental/pollution problems for which rural and forest roads are noted. Nearly everything discussed in this manual is aimed at producing efficient, low-cost, low-impact roads that have a minimal effect on the streams of a watershed.

From Chapter VI: Construction, Compacted cut-and-fill and benching construction:
Multi-benching construction employs a technique called "bottom-up compaction" which adds stability to fill material placed along the outside of the road prism. Multi-benching is not often used, but it is a good way to develop a stable footing with a minimum of sidecasting [dumping excess material over the side of the bench].
Multi-bench road construction
Fig. 55. Multi-bench road construction.
First a bench is cut at the proposed base of the fill, about 30 feet below the elevation of the proposed road grade (its exact location depends on the slope of the hillside and the width of the final road). It may be necessary to excavate and endhaul material from this first cut so it is not sidecast downslope. Next, the operator moves slightly upslope to create another bench, casting the spoil material onto the first bench downslope where it is then compacted. After the second bench is completed, the process is repeated upslope to the final road elevation. The result is a fill that is keyed into the hillslope on multiple, small benches, with little sidecast.

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