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A “Handmade” Hiking Trail

"Handmade Trail" refers to trails constructed using non-power tools. This minimizes impact on the environment and historical areas, while enhancing the sustainability and integrity of the trail. The "Handmade Trail" concept is based on environmental ethics, with the trails built using waste and local materials; they are also maintained and repaired in ways that preserve the surrounding natural environment as well as the cultural and historical characteristics of the area.

"Handmade Trails" need to adapt to the climate, geology, ecology and other environmental characteristics of the trail location. They also consider the cultural and historical context, user characteristics and integrity of the habitat, combined with traditional crafts, local and professional knowledge. Trail designs adapt to local conditions and are integrated with the surrounding landscape which reduces the energy and use of foreign materials. However, it is important trails have a certain degree of flexibility and are able to cope with changes in the natural environment and remain stable. It is also necessary to maintain ongoing dialogue and cooperation with various non-government sectors to establish a regular maintenance system.

Sources: Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association, TMI Trail

Horizontal interception

The topsoil of the trail is slightly eroded, which may expose stones, making it more difficult to traverse. In addition, multiple paths may coexist as a result of overflowing runoff water, or visitors who walk at the side of the trail to avoid eroded areas which creates new pathways. These new paths then become new waterlines as the cycle repeats, indirectly increasing damage to the environment.

As such, it is necessary to introduce horizontal water interception facilities (stone masonry diversion rods) at appropriate locations on the lower part of the trail to divert the water flow, reduce the flooding of the trail and scouring of the surface, thereby preventing repeated erosion and damage to the trail.

Stone masonry fixer

For example, the southern section of Longling Old Trail has a steep gradient and many steep sections. The steeper the slope, the stronger the erosion force of the water flow. If the water overlaps with the trail or is quite close, it can easily cause differing degrees of erosion to the trail pathway. When the water flows through a loose soil or loess area under a bamboo forest, it is likely to cause greater erosion.

Although parts of Longling Old Trail have been severely eroded and are unfit for public use, masonry fixers are still set up at intervals. These minimize water erosion, strengthening the soil and rocks to act as a buffer by retaining soils and rocks.

Stone masonry stairs

For example, the beginning and end ridgeline sections of the old trail are quite steep, and most of the trails have a gradient of more than 25%, which makes them difficult to walk for most visitors. Some of the trails are composed of sticky soil, which may also cause stagnant water and create slippy conditions. At the trail sections where the slope gradient is too steep, it is recommended that local rocks be used to create stairs. If the onsite conditions are not suited for building stairs, then auxiliary ropes should be installed to ensure walk is safe.

Masonry slope protection

If the rainfall scours the lower part of the trail along the mountainside and the lower slope side of the trail is frequently eroded, it can cause incremental downward erosion or caving and narrowing. If the soil and rocks on the upper slope slide down in the rain and pile up on the trail that causes it to narrow.

On seriously eroded trail sections, the lower slope and trail subgrade should be bolstered by using stone masonry slope protection or wooden frame slope protection.

Horizontal log slope protection

If the lateral slope gradient of the trail is less than 30 degrees, the path is narrow and the lower side slope could collapse, horizontal log slope protection should be used to strengthen the lower side slope and widen the tail.

Last Updated: 2023/11/13