Trail volunteers learn to ‘armor’ a stream crossing

By Jed Mason, AmeriCorps Member of the Palisades Trail Crew

“Why would you armor a stream crossing?”

Great question: What exactly is armoring, and why do it?

Armor a stream crossing pic-600On July 25, the first Trail-U workshop offered by the Palisades Crew this season focused on exactly that. Participants learned all about how to build a safe passage across an intermittent stream, free of unstable, slippery stones. Students set and sank large boulders with flat surfaces into a bed of rock to create a permanent and safe walking surface across a submerged stream that periodically floods after storms.

We all were invigorated this past Saturday with the energy and enthusiasm of our volunteer participants:  Jesse, TJ, and Cian armored the muddy, upper stream crossing by moving and placing stepping stones into crush and smaller rocks, allowing water to flow between the stones.  John, Paul, and Kathy worked on the drier stream crossing further below, moving and setting a large rock into the side of the seasonal stream, to guide periodic floodwaters away from the trail surface, preventing future erosion.

It was rewarding to see how accomplished the participants felt at their handiwork, as well as their pleasure at having acquired a deeper understanding of trail building, which can often be like working on a giant 3-D jigsaw puzzle.

Each person brought their own experience and sense of humor to the day:  Paul was jubilant at discovering how to use a simple rock bar to move a 1,000-pound boulder; TJ demonstrated techniques for moving exceptionally heavy blocks and clearing stones that he, having grown up on a dairy farm, learned in cow pastures.

We set a total of 5 large stepping stones that day as well as a number of gargoyles. (Know what we mean by ‘gargoyle’? Ask us, or better yet, join us and find out.) We would never have accomplished all of that without the help of our enthusiastic  volunteers. Thank you guys!

Future trail projects on the menu for this year include: armoring more stream crossings, putting stepping stones across streams, side-hilling steep contour paths, clearing corridor, building stone-and-dirt landings where needed, and generally creating a beautiful trail. We welcome all volunteers to participate in this most satisfying of ways to give back.

The Palisade Crew’s next  Trail-U workshop, on Saturday, August 16th, will focus on repairing a more traditional (usually running) stream crossing by setting sturdy stones across a stream bed. The technique is slightly different. Bring a friend. Sign up below:

http://nynjtc.org/workshop/tread-and-drainage-building-stream-crossing-trail-u-868

About Trail Walker

Since 1920, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference has partnered with parks to create, protect, and promote a network of more than 2,100 miles of public trails in the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region. The Trail Conference organizes volunteer service projects that keep these trails open, safe, and enjoyable for the public. We publish maps and books that guide public use of these trails. The Trail Conference is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization with a membership of 10,000 individuals and 100 clubs with a combined membership of 100,000 active, outdoor-loving people.
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