Sprucing Up Wild Oaks Trail (part 1)

Many locals hit this trail regularly and LOVE it tremendously! There are a few places where the Wild Oaks Trail needs some help, but let’s just focus on the annoying “wet spot” where the trail begins at Wild Oaks Park. We want Wild Oaks Trail to be ridden year-round and sustained as a high quality trail. Share this post if you agree and want to support this project.

(This is “part 1” of at least 2 parts in this article series. The second article will come soon.)

By the way, if you’re not yet familiar with this trail then you can read about it, view pictures, and play with the map on its trail description page.

One of the reasons why EDH Trails was started was to provide an avenue for the community to take care of the public trails we love to use. Some people, affectionately known as “trail fairies”, will silently nip and tuck things here and there. Recognizing the needs and following Nike’s advice, trail fairies just do it. Truth is that is how a lot of trail maintenance gets done. And in some cases that is the only way maintenance gets done because the officially responsible trail managers don’t have the resources needed to do everything. Things just magically get maintained. Not all maintenance actions are easily done in fairy-mode, nor is it always appropriate. That gap leaves room for an organized community approach. And that, my friends, is what this blog post is about.

Problem Description:

Wet spot on trail at Wild Oaks Park, El Dorado Hills, CA.

Wet spot on trail at Wild Oaks Park, El Dorado Hills, CA. (February 2014)

Due to the runoff from the end of Brittany Way in the adjacent development, a short (approximately 60 foot long) section of the Wild Oaks Trail regularly becomes saturated and rutted due to the foot and bike traffic that passes through it. This shallow drainage area doesn’t typically, if ever, see surface run-off water. This photo shows some standing water because of ruts caused by use when wet. Normally this area ranges from damp dirt to soggy mud for parts of the year as water is moving laterally subsurface.

This winter has been exceptionally dry, and so the trail should be dry here too. Rather than being dry, this section of trail looks more like it would in a *wet* year. The special circumstances this year is that the adjacent street (Brittany Way) is leaking water towards the trail. This leak is likely solvable; I’ll call the Irrigation District this week. However the water is getting onto the trail, whether from a leak or from rain, there is a drainage issue that should be delt with.

And its also worth noting that the trail section that is most noticed this year isn’t the section that is typically the problem during normal winters. In fact, because of the unusually dry winter, the real problem spot of the trail is dry right now; it’s not a problem. Our proposed solutions will deal with both sections.

Solution Proposal:

As Wild Oaks is a trail used by the community, EDH trails would like to organize a “trail day” to repair this portion of the trail for the community. In order to make it more sustainable in the long-term we suggest adding a “causeway” having a  gravel lens that allows runoff to filter through, but provides a more stable base for foot and bike traffic to continue using the trail. Similar systems to that being proposed have been successfully installed and implemented along the Auburn “Connector Trail” and in some of the “low land” portions of the Downieville area trails.

Illustration for design concept -- an elevated gravel path raise the trail tread above wet soil.

Illustration for design concept — an elevated gravel path raise the trail tread above wet soil.

A generic drawing of the “causeway” concept design is illustrated in this figure. The area of trail to be repaired would be would covered in filter fabric and then both sides would be lined with rock or wood timbers. The trail bed itself would then be raised with a 5-inch thick layer of medium crushed rock overlain by a top layer of coarse gravel or other rock-based material that would provide a sustainable trail surface. Optionally, we could add a short 5 foot section of 6″ diameter ABS pipe to help ensure no standing water builds up. This durable design allows for use year round while the low-volume runoff from the development will pass beneath the trail tread relatively unimpeded.

The option of adding a culvert to the end of Brittany Way to transport runoff past the existing trail bed was also considered. However, due to the potential maintenance, the size and length of the culverts required, and aesthetics of adding a culvert it was assumed that the raised trail bed would be a more economical and viable option.  However, this option can be revisited if the property owner prefers.

(Alternative to rock) The diagram figure depicts wooden border material. Wood has its benefits. Either natural timbers or 6×6″ pressure treated cedar would look nice. Or a combination of wood and rock edging would look good together too. Wood wasn’t chosen as the preferred material because it’ll require replacement eventually. It’s a choice that is up for discussion.

In “part 2” of this series, I’ll propose yet another alternative that adds a twist, LOL …

Reference: Recreational Trails Program, US Federal Highway Administration. “Wetland Trail Design and Construction”. FS Publication 012328333. See chapter “Wetland Trail Structures”.

Logistics and Costs:

At this time EDH trails is not certain where the exact property boundary is, and therefore who the decision makers would be to authorize this trail improvement project is unclear.  However, we assume the approval is in the hands of either the home owners association or the El Dorado Hills Community Service District (CSD).

Once authorized and supplied, the project could likely be implemented over the course of a 1-2 days using primarily volunteer labor.  Some professional management services (Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship or other local contractor) may be contracted to ensure that construction specifications are met and that maintenance costs will be minimized. Although we budget for professional oversight, we hope to also find a local contractor in the community to volunteer their supervision. We also assumed that tools and insurance will be provided by a partner organization or the CSD.  Preparation of formal planning documents were not considered necessary for this scope of work.

Accessing the site is best from Brittany Way. The street dead ends right at the location where the repair is needed.

Materials List:

  • 3 yds of large rock (>8″) suitable for edging
  • 2 yds of 5″ utility cobble rock
  • 2 yds of surface material  (e.g. 3/8″ crushed rock)
  • 10 ft. of 6″ black ABS pipe (opt.)
  • landscaping fabric, 6′ x 300 ft (roll)
  • materials cost $600, estimated

Bonus Materials:

  • couple large boulders (>20″) to accent & anchor the path

Cost Estimates:

  • $650 – raw materials (not counting the bonus materials)
  • $100 – food & drink
  • none  – volunteer labor (valued at $160/day/person)
  • $400 – professional services (discretionary)
  • $1150 = TOTAL (not counting volunteer value)


This picture was taken during our exceptionally DRY winter, February 2014.

Wet spot on trail at Wild Oaks Park, El Dorado Hills, CA.

Wet spot on trail at Wild Oaks Park, El Dorado Hills, CA. (February 2014)

Water is coming from the street nearby the trail. This winter (2013-14) has been very dry. The amount of water at the problem spot on the trail is uncommon. And actually, the spot on the trail that usually has a problem with water is bone dry right now. Point is this trail would be totally fine if this leak didn’t exist.

Water is leaking out of the ground at 3621 Brittany Way

Water is leaking out of the ground at 3621 Brittany Way. Nearby is the trail and its turning into a muddy mess. Several feet to the right of where this picture was taken is a clump a wetland cattails (plant).

Below picture shows a similar sort of trail solution being built. Looks to be 85% completed and needing just the finishing touches. Note that the base rock material is larger than what we are calling for in the proposal.

Raised wetland rock path under construction nearby Graeagle Creek.

Raised wetland rock path under construction nearby Graeagle Creek.

Below is another simple diagram of the “causeway” trail concept.

Diagram of causeway

Causeways filled with broken rock have been successfully used throughout the Sierra Nevada and elsewhere to create an elevated, hardened tread across seasonally wet alpine meadows.

Below is a tractor trail built in a swamp. Construction materials are layers of wood timbers, rock, and dirt. This “corduroy” design allows for water to move underneath the trail tread in the small spaces between log timbers.

Example of corduroy trail design in a swamp.

Example of corduroy trail design in a swamp. Logs form the base and are lain side-by-side perpendicular to the direction of travel.

The Snowflake Wash Trails website chronicles the making of a causeway. Notice the large rock edge materials used and the medium sized rock laid as base material. See the full story and set of pictures on their website.


This causeway (seen here under construction) is the eastern trail head for the Wetlands Trail. It is filled with rocks to allow water to seep through underneath in “wet years”.


If you wish to provide feedback, labor, materials, funding, or just voice your support – you may do so in the comments section  below or on our Facebook page or by emailing Mike (mikeOnTrails @ gmail)

psssst — this might be a good project for an Eagle Scout...

Facebook for EDH TrailsShare this post if you agree and want to support this project.

4 Responses to “Sprucing Up Wild Oaks Trail (part 1)”
  1. Steve McGraw says:

    Would love to help by donating some labor and hand tools if needed. Any suggested dates yet to do this project? I have multiple chainsaws and there are several downed trees around this trail that we could possible use for something.

    • edhtrails says:

      Steve^ thanks for stepping up. A date cannot be set until after the land owner approves the project and we raise the resources to accomplish the goal. The proposal went public yesterday. As to chainsaws and trees, we definitely need approvals and insurance. Perhaps a professional arborist (with insurance) would donate in-kind. I like your thinking, though. We might be able to save money by using downed timbers for edge material instead of rock.

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] (This is part 2 of this series about repairing Wild Oaks Trail. Read part 1 for more background.) […]

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