Trail work can be as simple as clearing fallen brush or overgrown green briar from the trail path. It can also be as involved as moving massive heavy stones to be used as steps. The tools are as varied as the work and the techniques. At every one of our workdays there are always jobs to be done for all ability levels. The basic requirement is that you can hike to the actual worksite at Seneca. On this page, we’ll lay out some of our typical tools used for trail work at FOS.
– Personal gear: we recommend that all volunteers wear long pants (even in summer), breathable shirts (not cotton), sturdy boots, and work gloves. Depending on the area around Seneca where you will be working, a helmet is also recommended. Always bring enough water for yourself and a good lunch.
Light and medium duty trail work tools
These items are typically used for clearing trails of debris, blowdowns, overgrowth, and other maintenance items.
– Pruners (hand, pole)
– Saws (bowsaw, folding, larger crosscut (including two-person crosscut), chainsaw)
– Cant hook (used to roll logs)
Medium to Heavy Duty Trail Work Gear
These items are used for more involved trail construction and rehabilitation, including the moving of heavy stone.
– Gravel/dirt buckets
– Mattocks (pick and axe)
– Sledgehammers (various sizes)
– Rock bars
– Rope puller (ratcheting mechanical advantage device)
– Grip hoist and all required accessory gear (larger mechanical advantage device capable of moving loads up to 2000 lbs, see next section)
The grip hoist is the workhorse of a lot of heavy duty trail work. The Tractel TU-17 is a typical model used for trail work because of its size/weight/capabilities balance. It can be used in several ways to move large objects. The basic process is to anchor the grip hoist to a solid point (typically a tree or large boulder), securely wrap the object to be moved with special chains, thread the wire rope into the grip hoist, and attach the other end of the wire rope to the chains, typically via a Masterlink (oval steel ring with clevis hooks) and a hook on the end of the wire rope.
This same typical setup with the grip hoist can often also be used with a rope puller. The difference is primarily that the working load limit of a rope puller is far less than a grip hoist but the rope puller weighs far less.
Finally, a grip hoist can be used to rig a high line which is used to ferry large quantities of materials between two areas. The line is a wire rope or other specialized Dyneema rope that is rigged between two points (aka spar poles) with a block anchored high off the ground on each spar pole. The working area is between the spar poles. Beyond the poles, one side of the line is anchored to the ground while the other side is attached to the wire rope that is fed into the grip hoist. This enables the user to raise and lower tension in order to lift materials and move them.