What goes into maintaining the Arboretum’s 10+ miles of trails? Natural Landscapes Crew Leader Sarah Briggs tells us what her and the trail crew have been doing to get the trails ready for fall.

As the season begins to change, we will spend a bit of time blowing leaves off our trails. Although the leaves are very pretty when they first fall, blowing them off periodically will keep the trail surface clear and prevent leaves from blocking water from shedding off the trails. Maintaining outsloped tread, as well as features such as waterbars and grade reversals, are key in preserving trail health. Even on relatively flat trails, water can quickly become an issue if not assessed and addressed regularly.


In maintaining trails we often prune and control brush along the trails. We spend time clearing the trail at head height and try to keep an open sight line for K-9 friends as well. We are always on the lookout for poison ivy and any plants that would negatively impact the hiking experience for outdoor adventurers and try to keep it away from the trail’s edge.
We have a great crew of volunteers that diligently help us in our invasive plant removal efforts both on and off the trail. This allows out native plants to flourish and helps keep the Arboretum the beautiful place that it is.
Any rocks or brush on the inner edge of a trail can push users outward leading to erosion on the outer edge of the trail. We try to remove these obstacles so that the entire trail is inviting. When the need arises we repair trails that have been damaged by erosion problems. Often locust logs or rocks come into play in stabilizing a trail. Although hiking in its nature involves a somewhat rugged surface, we try to maintain a safe trail tread.
We have also spent time this year installing trail benches which enhance visitor experience. They provide, not only a chance to rest, but also, a chance to be still and take in the sights and sounds of the Bent Creek Watershed. We appreciate the donations which have made these benches possible.
This year our efforts to improve our wayfinding signs throughout our trail system were realized with the installation of new signs. We have had great feedback and can see they are very helpful in guiding people hiking at the Arboretum.
These are just some of the things we do to ensure hiking at the North Carolina Arboretum is a nice experience for all. We are always inspired by the natural setting in which we work and love it as do the people who hike it everyday and those seeing it for the first time.