Mineral Ridge Scenic Area and Recreation Trail

Station 9: Effects of Trailing Trail walkers

A trail runs down the center of the steep old road that crosses here. The vegetation is trampled and worn. Did you see other examples of trailing toward the beginning of your hike and at trail switchbacks? Trailing is caused mostly by people taking shortcuts. Hikers need to stay on the main trail to prevent trailing, but obviously, some do not heed this request. Soil erosion and sedimentation are the main effects of trailing. Water erosion is the main concern. How much soil erosion occurs depends on the amount of water, steepness of the slope, the soil type, and the kind and amount of plants. 

When trampling occurs, vegetation is destroyed and plant roots will not hold soil in place. With the ground left unprotected, soil is washed away by rainfall. The situation is worsened because as topsoil is lost, the soil’s capacity to absorb water is further reduced. Trailing also causes soil compaction. Compaction reduces soil’s ability to absorb water. In short, water runs off instead of sinking in, further escalating the damage to plants and soil. Stay on the main trail. It is built to parallel the land’s natural contour, and is sloped so that water falling on it quickly flows off into undisturbed vegetated areas rather than being channeled down the trail. Culverts under the trail help the runoff drain in its natural pattern rather than being blocked and diverted onto the trail.