Mount Tammany Trail
[ a.k.a. Red Dot ]

[ NY/NJ Trail Conference's West Jersey Crew ]

Here are some photos from our Red Dot Trail project in the Delaware Water Gap.  We have had a fabulous crew of volunteer men & women working on this.  Many of them had never done this kind of thing before - and most of them had a blast are still coming back.  The work here is far from over - so contact us if you'd like to join in.


Check out the story behind the pictures!

Last Updated: 01/23/2003


The photos in this first section are from the Spring 2000 trips.


Tammany_Before_1_trailhead.jpg (40857 bytes)

Here's what the the trailhead looked like before we began working.  It was still fairly open since it was only January; but once the bushes and trees began to come out in the spring, you could hardly see in here.  This looks as much like a trail as it does because it is a short cut to the other parking lot from this one.


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Compare the first picture and this one to the picture 3 below... it really is the same place!

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The newly installed trailhead from off of the parking lot.  This staircase began the relocation which replaced a badly eroded 'herd path' which went directly up the hill.  Much more inviting and much less likely to wash away with use and weather.

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Many hands and some old fire hose make this 400 pound railroad tie almost portable! (We used over 50 of them!!)  They are recovered ties, mostly hardwood, all treated for the ages.  

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This is where most of those railroad ties ended up.  While this isn't very 'rustic' as trails go, the level of usage is so high along here that the sandy clay that makes up the hillside would have just been eroded away in no time.  With cribbed steps like this, the hundreds of people a day that use this trail in the summer will have a safe, easy way to go that will last for many, many years.

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Great work, people!  You are right to be proud of the job.

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A view back down those beautiful stairs.  And this is only the first 300 yards of the relocation and restoration!  The overall job is just about 2 miles long.  This part is where you first come off the Dunfield Creek parking lot, and is the most concentrated traffic area on the trail.

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 It's not all staircases.  These terraces and side hill work make the ascent to the top of the plateau pleasant, durable, and still give the hiker a sense of being on a trail.  This photo shows what happens at the top of the staircase above.  The hiker is now walking up a series of terraces which angle up the side of the hill, curving with the general topology to reach the top.  The result is a trail that is easy to walk on and yet 'gets the job done'; while at the same time preserves the normal flow of water off the hill as much as possible.

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And this shows how it got to look that way.  Plenty of skilled, hard work - done with care and an eye for keeping the footing comfortable while keeping just enough out-slope to shed the water off the trail.  Keeping the water moving along it's normal path down the side of the hill is far better than letting it collect and gutter down the trail, causing ruts and eroding out the steps and trail.  [ Someone once said the three most important things in trail work is "Drainage, Drainage, Drainage" ]

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A practiced eye for keeping the drainage working, a lot of digging and moving rocks (and more of those railroad ties).  


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Members of the all-volunteer crew working away on 'side hilling' the top of the approach to the plateau.  By cutting down on the inner (up hill) edge, they are carving a sort of shelf for the trail to be on.  With just enough out slope, the rain will continue to run across and off the side of the trail, rather than down the walkway - which would create an eroded ditch.

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And did we say rocks?  This one ended up as a foundation for one of the staircase landings.  Wouldn't you know it... it's completely dug into the dirt, so only the top shows!  The saying goes, if you can move the rock by yourself, by hand, it is way too small.  Ideally, rocks should be 'planted'; but in any event, they should stay where they are put because they want to.


The photos in the next section are from the Fall 2000 trips.  While the fallen leaves hide some of our earlier work (as intended), the open canopy makes for better lighting...


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After crossing the top of the plateau above the parking lot, the trail's path used to follow a shoulder of the hill around and on up.  Over the years, this section, which was the same sandy clay soil, had become pounded down into a ditch.  And, as happens with any ditch on a hillside, it became a runoff path.  The runoff had washed a pretty nasty gully, but hurricane Floyd finished the job - in places the ditch was waist deep.  The answer was to re-locate the trail all together and to fill in the damaged area and let it heal.  This stone staircase is how the trail now gets up to the ridge spine.  These rocks are all placed and fitted into a natural defile in the ledge face.  With water bars above, very little water will flow over them; what does will flow over the large rocks and be dispersed through the gravel underneath. 

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Just after the top of the stairs, the new trail re-joins the old trail.  (It comes in from the left in this photo; the washout began just off the edge from here.)  More large (300-400 pound) rocks were dug in and placed to act as both terraces and a staircase at this point.  The leaves and branches are hiding the half ton of rip-rap (little rocks and broken up bigger rocks) to the immediate right edge of the steps.  This spot was the 'headwater' for the washout gully and had to be made as 'hard' and water proof as possible.

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And this is part of it's support system.  These steps were created to form another terrace and water deterrent.  They tie in to the boulders which were already there.  Now, instead of a sluice, there is a broader, rock surface for the water to sheet over.  You can also see in the background the downhill face of one of the many, many waterbars on this project. 

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This waterbar is over 12 feet long and is constructed of very large rocks, buried in a trench.  Like an iceberg they are mostly underground.  The purpose of a waterbar is to direct flowing water off the trail, presumably back to the normal pattern of flow for the hillside, and this one a beauty!

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This is the business side of one of the waterbars - the uphill side.  As you can see, it provides a major influence for any water flowing on the trail to make other plans.  The real trick with waterbars is to not make them so tall that people trip over them, but tall enough to do the job.  Also, making the outflow as diffused as possible will help avoid downhill damage.

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Here you see a couple of the ladies at work on another waterbar.  In this case, she was lucky that is was only some small roots in her way.  Its pretty much inevitable that you will have to fight to dig a 1.5 - 2 foot deep slot to place the rocks, you just hope you don't discover something really big.

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The uphill side of their work of art just before the finishing touches were applied.  Notice the broad, step-stone in the center.  Getting the 'right' rocks placed correctly is what makes for a successful waterbar.  Also, getting the right angle helps... too steep and they wash themselves out, too shallow and the water doesn't flow. 

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And the stairs just keep on coming.  This time, it was a 3-step job, around an existing boulder.  Again, the steps are to 'harden' the walking surface in an area where water and footsteps are making an erosion pattern.  The waterbar which ended up just above here took most of the water away, now these steps will correct what already had happened, and help to prevent any further damage.

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After the steps are completed, rip-rap and little 'junk' rocks are used to scree in the side of the construction.  This helps to define the intended walkway, and to help drain water off the steps.  The water flows between the rocks and thus is slowed down, minimizing the erosion of the area.  In many cases, we will scree in an area such as this with really 'ugly' rocks - specifically to keep hikers on the trail.  If there was enough of an erosion problem to warrant the steps in the first place, having folks detour around them would only create new problems 'over there'.

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And here you have a view down a section of the newly revamped trail.  While we didn't place the fallen tree in the background, we did place the waterbars and terraces.  Hopefully, we will have done our job well and helped to preserve the trail bed, and to help it heal - all while not being too intrusive to the hiking experience.


The photos in this next section are from the 2001 & 2002 trips.  The work time over these two seasons was limited since the crew's efforts (and those of most of the Trail Conference's NJ contingent) were focused on the Pochuck wetlands relocation project on the Appalachian Trail.)


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About a mile up from the parking lots, the trail makes a 'jump' up onto a small ledge.  Twenty years ago, the trail used to just go straight up or down the 20' cliff face, before continuing on up to the top.  About 10 years ago, that was moved to a 30' high rock scramble about 200' to the south.  The only problem was that there were several seeps in the hill above which turned the whole thing into an ice cube jumble in the winter.  Even in summer, it had a tendency to be wet and slippery - just generally unpleasant to do business with.  

So, as an offshoot of hosting an ATC workshop on rockwork, the crew built an extensive re-route around the rock scramble.  It begins here with several stone steps up to a 'crushed' rock tread way, which turns left at the top of this photo.

Rock on up the stairs.jpg (64539 bytes) This picture shows the "crush-and-fill" as it gently traverses about 20' to the next staircase.  Monica headed up the team that built this beauty.  It curves and snakes it's way around an outcropping of the ledge and winds up circling behind the tree you see in the middle of the top of the frame.  
Switchback Turn Landing 01 (Denise & Bob).jpg (56353 bytes) From the top of these stairs, another 30' or so of stone retaining wall was built and back-filled with crushed rock.  In this photo, Jack is standing back by the tree, placing one of the final steps of the stairs.  In the foreground, Bob and Denise are working on upper end of this lower section's retaining wall.  The base of an upper retaining wall is on the left side.   Bob is on the stone-step landing which connects the two parts of the switchback.  You can see the rock terraces going off to the left side.
Crush&Fill - Denise V 01.jpg (44853 bytes) Now, what's all this talk about "crush-and-fill"?  Glad you asked!  Since the local gravel purveyor doesn't make house calls half way up the mountain, we have another way.  Here, Denise exhibits the technique with an 10# sledgehammer.  All joking aside, by smashing rocks into small chunks this way, you get a highly compacted and stable base for whatever has to go on top.
Switchback Lower Section - Jack B 01.jpg (59697 bytes) Sometimes, what goes on top of the 'crush' is step rocks.  The staircase we built the year before down below at the first ledge, was almost entirely built on 'crush'.  Other times the crushed stone base is used as a foundation for a retaining wall.  Many times, though, it is just left as is.  When the top most layer of the crushed material is fairly small (golf ball sized) it is not bad to walk on right from the start.  But what happens is that over (not too much) time, the leaves and dirt fill in the spaces between and turn the gravel into a solid trail surface that drains like a sieve.

In this picture, Jack is cutting the the tread for the lower section of the switchback in the rocky ledges of the area.  It's a great way to work out your frustrations...

Switchback 01- profile of upper section (Bob & Denise).jpg (55978 bytes) Bob is now standing on the turn/landing I built between the two sections of switchback.  The profile of the upper rock retaining wall is right behind him.  At the high end, it is about 10 feet tall.  At the far end of the upper section (looks like it's just behind his head) is where this relocation hooks around and rejoins the original trail.
Switchback Upper Section - Bob S 01.jpg (57747 bytes) This photo shows the top of the upper section retaining wall before it got back-filled with 'crush' and then dirt.  Just in the lower edge of the frame is where the relocation turns to rejoin the original route.  That's Bob, working away on the lower section's wall.  If you look behind him, you can see just how far up you used to have to scramble.  Denise is working on a small retaining wall on the outside upper edge of the turn.

When this was all done, the old rock-hop scramble was closed off, and the new route blazed open.  Not bad for 4 days' work.

DOT side trailhead.jpg (47064 bytes) Back down by the highway, the 'other' trailhead needed help.  The trail just sort of piled up this hillside from the picnic area and, via some pretty well dissolved log steps, worked it's way up the hill to join the Mt. Tammany trail on top if the plateau that separates the two parking lots.  I am afraid there are no before pictures, but this is what we ended up with.  The timber stairs spiral up and transition into a side hill, reinforced with more timbers spiked in on the outside edge.
DOT side top corner.jpg (68042 bytes) About 150' along, the trail turns and stair-steps up to another series of terraces and reinforced side hill.  That's Larry Wheelock (NY/NJ Trail Conference Trails Director) and Karen (maintainer of the Mt. Tammany trail with her husband Rich) standing at about 50' above the parking lot, about 200' along the new work.
DOT side top traverse.jpg (63106 bytes) Larry and Karen are joined here by Monica (red had) and Karen's husband Rich.  They are standing just above the 'spiral staircase' turn.
Pictures yet to come: After we finished this, we 'discovered' that we had created a very viable loop hike out of the DOT parking lot.  The only problem was that the other end of the hike was on the other side of the plateau in the AT lot.  Since there was a very well used 'herd path' around the front of the plateau, we determined that the final touches would have to be to 'connect the dots'.  This was finished while Pochuck was in full court press, so I don't have any photos yet.  Please stand by.
Rock 2 on move 05 (on zip line).jpg (52711 bytes) On the final trip of 2002 (and probably our final Mt. Tammany Trail trip) we spend the day building some rock steps to get over this large tree.  The tree has been there 'forever' and is doing a great job as a check dam.  So rather than rip it out, we decided the best approach would be to incorporate it into a structure.  The new structure would get hikers up and over, while keeping them on the trail, rather than going around (which makes even more drainage problems).  [photo by Don Griffin]
David, Roland, Norm with hikers 01.jpg (52766 bytes) One of the 'interesting features' of working on this trail in particular is just how busy it is.  We were constantly having to hold up work while people came through.  Here, we paused with a step rock to let folks through.  That's Norm (back, right in gray), Roland (right, front in blue) and me (leaning on the rock).   [photo by Don Griffin] 
Rock 2 placed 01 (Norm with step in progress).jpg (54089 bytes) After that batch of hikers passed along, we lowered the rock I was leaning on into place.  Here, Norm is studying the rock to define the hole which will need to be created to seat the next step.  What you don't see is that the rock at his feet is already in a footing hole, nearly 10" deep.  These rocks are going to stay because they want to, not because we want them to.  [photo by Don Griffin]
Rock 2 placed 02 (Norm with step in progress).jpg (62603 bytes) That same step, from the front.  From this angle, it looks a lot more like a step!   [photo by Don Griffin]
Hikers just can't wait 01.jpg (58608 bytes) In fact, the next moment, some hikers came piling through.  They just couldn't wait to use the stair...  But they're not done yet!!!   [photo by Don Griffin]
Rock 3 (Norm & Roland excavating).jpg (64338 bytes) We need another 'big boy' - so off Norm went in search of one.  Looks like he and Roland got a goodie.  Here, they are working it out of the spot it has been waiting in for about 15,000 years.  It didn't come without a fight -- but these guys are up to the task.   [photo by Don Griffin]
Rock 3 on move 01 (drag in to zip line).jpg (59946 bytes) Here, they have it almost out to the main zip line.  They have it wrapped into one of my 'chain baskets' and have used the winch to pull it out of the woods to here.   [photo by Don Griffin]
Rock 3 on move 04 (Norm & David by destination).jpg (60589 bytes) Once it reached the zip line, Roland scooted it (can you 'scoot' an 600# rock?) down to the top of the log.  From there, Norm, Roland and I twisted it around into just the right position to slide it off the log.  It had to be right the first time, because it was dropping in as a wedge between the log and the previous step.  Luckily, it landed just right.  Some minor work with the rock bar and the job was done.   [photo by Don Griffin] 
Hiker on finishted steps 03.jpg (54526 bytes) We trimmed out the steps with a bunch of scree rock and crush and fill gravel to keep folks on the defined tread, and to promote drainage without erosion.  It would appear that we have succeeded.  We hadn't even cleaned up and more hikers came through.   [photo by Don Griffin]

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