Tales From The Trails:

Why We Rake Trails

Each year, we rake all 47 miles of Forest Park's narrow hiking trails. Often, people will ask us "why do we rake the trails? Aren't the leaves part of the natural environment?"

Trail maintenance is based on what's important for the region in which the trails exist. Some places don't require any raking and some, like Forest Park, benefit from this activity. Over many years of monitoring, maintenance crews in Forest Park have found that our heavily used trails require a certain recipe of tasks to reduce trail erosion.

One of those tasks is raking. When done regularly throughout the fall, raking to remove leaves and other organic matter contributes to a durable, well-drained trail surface that can sustain heavy use during our long wet winters. This is because trails in steep wet areas such as ours need a layer of durable surface soil that has a relatively high concentration of angular stone in order to shed ground and surface water while remaining structurally stable through periods of heavy use and rainfall. Along with raking, we also add crushed stone and tread-reshaping techniques in our trail maintenance program.  

Removing leaves from the trail surface ensures that no extra water is being trapped on the trail. Once water pools on the trail, the specific soil type present in Forest Park becomes saturated and unstable, especially with heavy traffic. This process leads to increased trail erosion, muddy trails, mud holes, and very slippery conditions. Raking helps us maintain Forest Park’s trails ensuring they are safe for users and good for the environment.

Now that you know the importance of raking the trails, we hope you'll sign up for our Annual Rake-a-thon on Saturday, November 18th. It's fun for the whole family! You can learn more about the Rake-a-thon and sign up by clicking here. 

See you on the trails!

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