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"Trail Tending" Guide

In 1998, Chris Conrod and the WODC Trails Committee completed a new trail maintenance guide.  Intended for all WODC volunteers and adopters, Trail Tending, covers not only the mechanics of trail maintenance, but also a range of related issues including blazing, signs, private property, and Wilderness.

A printed copy of the entire guide is provided to all WODC Adopters. 

Click here to view the core content of  Trail Tending in your web browser.

You can also download the complete  MS-Word Document (800k) or PDF file (2MB).

The Introduction to Trail Tending appears below.


There have been a number of excellent texts written on the art of trail tending, so why do we need another? Because, as any Wonalancet hiker knows, WODC trails are special. While that may seem an obvious statement, you may not realize just how unique the WODC trail system really is.

With its earliest trails being opened in the 1890's, the WODC trail system is one of the oldest in the country, actually predating the creation of the White Mountain National Forest by twenty years. The result is not only an unrivaled pride in WODC trails, but also a vital relationship with the United States Forest Service, with whom we share responsibility for the trails. These are some of the elements of our rich history that call for a Guide written specifically for WODC trails.

The WODC currently maintains 52 miles of trails, making it perhaps the largest volunteer-based trail system in the White Mountains. In 1995, volunteers performed 1500 hours of work on WODC trails, or about 29 hours per mile of trail. This work was supported by a $3385 trails budget ($69/mile), which provided necessary tools, signs, and supplies, as well as hiring a crew for vital trail restoration.

By comparison, the AMC maintains 327 miles of trails in the WMNF. In 1995, volunteers contributed 11,300 hours to the AMC trails program (34 hours per mile), supported by expenditures of $328,310 ($1004/mile). Although the AMC may be the best known, other groups including the RMC, CTA, CMC, HA, SSOC, WVAIA, and SLA play a vital role in WMNF trail maintenance. But despite the significant contributions of these "Cooperators", the USFS still maintains the majority of the 1465 miles of hiking trails in the WMNF.

Although the USFS oversees most of our 52 trail miles, 11 miles actually lie outside the WMNF. This makes relations with private landowners a vital part of the WODC trails program. WODC adopters serve as the Club's ambassadors, and we are largely dependent on you to maintain good relations with landowners. Take every opportunity to listen to their concerns. Generations of future hikers will have you to thank as we continue to enjoy the hospitality of our trail hosts.

But perhaps the most distinctive feature of the WODC trail network is the high percentage that lies within the Sandwich Range Wilderness. 30 miles of our trails (58%) lie within this Congressionally designated area. By comparison, only 14% (46 miles) of AMC maintained trails lie within Wilderness.

Wilderness is well known for its prohibition of vehicles and motorized equipment. But as discussed in this Guide, Wilderness has many other implications for hiking trails. While these provisions are sometimes viewed as unnecessary "restrictions", I urge you to consider the substantial benefits they convey. With the demands on public lands increasing steadily (including recreation), the few tracts of federal Wilderness are the only hope that future generations may experience an environment "untrammeled by man." As we strive to help the hiker enjoy the woods, remember that our greatest challenge is to protect the woods from the hiker.

Peter Smart
WODC Trails Chair
May, 1998

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