Calling it a "hiking trail" would be misleading and "wildlife trail" would
just get peoples hopes up. (Though animals are using it). I've had to settle
on "Nature Trail". You might think that 20 acres is a lot of area but
creating even a short trail that doesn't repeat itself is harder than it
sounds. So far I've been able to scratch out a modest 20 minute walk that
meanders along the creek and crisscrosses up a hill on the east side of the
ranch. My goal is to create a nature walk where we can hike at least a short
distance without seeing signs of human habitation. This will take
years because I'm going to have to rely on the re-growth of plants and trees
to do most of the work. All I have to do is keep a path clear and let the
plants grow around it.
The hard part is clearing out the junk
along the trail that has
accumulated over the years. The previous owners were
horse people and the property was strewn with rotting corals, abandoned
chicken coops and rusty barbed wire strung haphazardly from tree to tree.
Old truck tires, car parts and abandoned appliances dot the landscape. In a
peculiar sort of way, the fire did us a big favor. Burned tires turn to
little clumps of manageable steel wires that easily go into the dumpster.
The denuded under brush has allowed me to wander the wooded areas with a
bolt cutter and I�ve been gathering up miles of barbed wire. The frames of
the chicken coops have burned away and I�ve been able to easily roll up the
left over chicken wire. It�s fun and I�m actually having a good time
but I have a long way to go. Somehow new piles of junk keep appearing
and they ruin the pristine view that I'm trying to achieve.
Trail maintenance is another never ending
chore. I try to remember to bring my pruners on every walk and I have
to use the weed trimmer once a year. I've cleared a path on the most rocky
spots though a single rain storm can erase my work. My reward for making it
to the top of the hill is a park bench that I carried up piece by piece.
Of course the biggest maintenance involves just walking the trail. A month
off during the heavy spring growing season can leave the trail almost
impossible to find.