What's your ideal road/trail width?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by BoneCrusher20, Feb 22, 2021 at 4:56 PM.

  1. BoneCrusher20

    BoneCrusher20 Active Member

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    Location:
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    Hardiness Zone:
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    As i'm starting to plan out some new roads for our farm. questioning myself at how wide i should make them? Think lot of factors go into it. As having them big as highways not only takes more time to create, but also more upkeep, but having them too small can get overgrown fast, but also feel like deer like to use these trails more as it feels more natural.

    - Rotary cutter can cut a 84" swat, sure would be nice for upkeep to not have a highway, so can only have to make 1 pass w/ cutter and not have to do each trail twice.

    - Also nice being able to have plenty of room to drive truck down if needed, but not necessary, as seems like most time just utv going through and the tractor (75" wide - no cab)
     
  2. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    This is one of my favorite topics! Roads are an infrastructure addition that will add value to a property, and if properly installed, will last several lifetimes, plus make a property easier to access, and more enjoyable to use. Therefore, I'm not hesitant to hire a machine, preferably a bulldozer with a blade, to make properly graded roads with water channels on both sides and pipes at water crossings. A mini-excavator can be helpful to keep channels open at each side of the road, keeping traffic from ruining the road by driving through water puddles. I think a road is a great investment that will be around for future generations to use, and they usually only have to be cut in one time if done correctly. I have described several of our road widths here, keeping in mind that we do tend to try to keep the bigger roads around the perimeter of the property, and have smaller ones towards the middle. Roads through bedding areas can be counterproductive.
    We have roads of 4 very specific widths that we create and maintain at our different locations;
    #1; A walking path, which is usually a deadend going to a stand location, but we also have some walking paths that are hunting shortcuts from one road to another. Walking paths get a light trimming, and leaf raking right before or during hunting season.
    #2; 4' wide ATV trails, which are often in rugged country where we never take bigger equipment, a shortcut from one big road to another, a dead end into a hunting area, or just somewhere that we never go with a tractor or pickup.
    #3; A tractor trail, which is generally maintained at an 8' width with a 8' brush hog if needed, we drive tractors to fields and pickup trucks to stands on these roads.
    #4; A wide equipment road, which is maintained at 12' wide for mowers, corn-planters, and no-till drills going to fields. Every field of a half acre or more has one of these going in to it. This is our most common type of road, we have several miles of these. We find that generally, wide roads need less maintenance than narrow roads, if a tree of limb partially blocks one of these wide roads we can drive around it for while until we get around to cutting it off, on a narrow road a deadfall has to be dealt with right away. Also, on a 12' wide road you can drive your wife's fancy vehicle without worrying about getting briar scratches. We drive road vehicles around in the woods on these roads all the time, they scare deer less than an ATV, and are more comfortable in cold and hot weather. Also, a 12' wide road doesn't tend to drive into a rutted two-track like a road will that's just wide enough for the equipment it's designed for.
    One thing road widths 2,3,& 4 have in common is the upkeep; usually we aim for a once a year trimming with a pole saw, sometimes more or less as needed. The wider the road, the higher and wider we trim the limbs back. A note on trimming; trim back several feet further than the edge of the road, but try to leave a canopy intact higher up to grow shut across the top, this prevents sunlight from sprouting weeds and briars. Also, we like big water bars on every hill and grade to prevent washouts. And some seeding with annual ryegrass is needed in certain areas to prevent erosion.
    One of my favorite pastimes is walking a nice road through a remote hunting area, in season still hunting, or just wandering around in the off season. A nice road is a gift that never stops giving.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021 at 5:55 PM
  3. dogghr

    dogghr Well-Known Member

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    Charles Alsheimer recommended in a book he wrote mid 2000 to leave 10 feet to either side of road. And to try run them N-S . Both these help keep road dry and easier to maintain. I plan to log next winter and my plan is 10 yds to either side. Couple reasons ..... Keep road clear for access, and allow brush to grow both sides for screening, and for deer food. Roads around 100 acres done this way would provide a huge amount of browse. Simple cut back every 7 years to maintain growth. Now if red oak prices would just bump up.
     
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  4. BoneCrusher20

    BoneCrusher20 Active Member

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    i'm jealous of the guys that can just bring a dozer in and roads are created! We have so many rocks that you pull one out and you spend 1/2 the day trying to find enough dirt to fill it in where you pulled on out. We've tried it before and think the roads end up in worse shape usually or more puddles. Therefore, i would love wide/flat roads, but feel like may have settle at times for that 7-8' range.

    I do like that suggestion of big roads around perimeter, maybe that's where my focus should be for now.
     
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  5. Mennoniteman

    Mennoniteman Well-Known Member

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    Keeping the trees cut back 10 yards on either side of the road definitely would create deer browse. This does create a small dilemma, the cover to drive without being seen is great, but the deer browsing along our access roads is the tradeoff. But you have given me another idea, that 10 yard buffer would be the perfect thing for around some of our fields to create more browse. Time to go for the saw.
     
  6. j-bird

    j-bird Well-Known Member

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    I would use that area for screening vs deer food....especially on perimeter roads. I don't need the deer tempting the neighbors or being near where I may be using the access to hunt. Interior road may be very different.
     
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  7. MarkDarvin

    MarkDarvin Well-Known Member

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    Work trails? Can't be too wide if you ask me. That's where stuff gets scratched, and the wider they are, the less often they need to be cleaned up. If it's far enough away from hunter access trails, might as well double as food space, if you need food space.

    Hunter access trails? Just wide enough I'm not rubbing anything on any vegeation, or as wide as whatever machine you need to use to make the trail. I've got one that's no more than 6" wider than me. I've got another that is 7' wide cause I plowed it open with a 6' wide skid steer. That later doubled into a work trail during wet periods.

    Deer trails? I don't really do anything with deer trails. They had their network before I got there. I make sure not to block them where I do come across them doing timber work. If I do block them, I make sure the detour isn't too arduous.
     
  8. SwampCat

    SwampCat Well-Known Member

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    SW AR
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    I like ten feet. My widest implement is 8 ft. You need to allow a foot on both sides of your widest implement width because they swing wider. That is plenty wide for a truck and trailer. I can run a 5 ft bushhog down and back. I have 5.5 miles of this type road/trail
     
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