Trail Maintenance Glossary        [ Every trade has its jargon! ]


Back slope - The excavated bank on the uphill side of a trail tread.

Berm - The raised outside edge of a trail.

Blow down - A fallen tree across the trail.

Borrow - Fill material taken from a site other than the trail way excavation.  Good borrow pits can often be found beneath root balls from fallen trees.

Bucking - Sawing a fallen or horizontal log.

Clearing limits - The distance to the either side of and above a trail way from which brush and limbs must be cleared.

Culvert - A drainage structure composed of rock or metal that passes beneath a trail to allow the flow of water from the inside to the outside edge.

Cribbing - A wall-like structure made of rocks and/or timber that acts as a retaining wall, while allowing controlled drainage of water through its structure.

Crush & Fill - A method of creating a gravel base either for tread or as an underlayment for further construction activity.  Generally this involves collecting shale and other soft rock in the working site and pounding it with a sledgehammer, which both breaks up the rock and also compresses it into a firm gravel bed.

Drain dip - A depression built into the trail to guide water off the tread.

Duff - Ground cover consisting of organic matter such as needles, leaves, twigs, etc.

Grade - Percent slope of trail measured as feet rise/100 feet run.

Inside edge - On a hillside trail this is the up-hill side of the trail.

Inslope - The inside edge of the trail is lower than the outside edge.

Mineral soil - Soil that has little or no organic matter.

Outside edge - On a hillside trail this is the down-hill side of the trail.

Outslope - The outside edge of a trail being lower than the inside edge to promote drainage.

Settling basin - A deep rock lined pit placed in front of a culvert to allow silt to settle out before entering the culvert.

Slough - Silt and organic debris that have slide down onto the trail.

Switchback - A sharp reversal in the direction of the trail, allowing the tread to maintain a reasonable grade as it climbs a steep hillside.

Tread - The travel surface of the trail.

Trail corridor - The full area of the trail including the tread and the zone on either side of the tread from which brush and limbs must be removed.

Turnpike - A structure used to carry a trail across ground that is usually saturated with water. Logs or rocks embedded along the sides of the tread hold fill material in place to form an elevated travel surface.

Water bar - A drainage structure composed of an out sloped segment of tread leading to a rock or log barrier embedded at an angle across the trail. Water across the slope will be diverted by the out slope or by the barrier.