Trail Cutting and Maintenance Guidelines
Choosing the Terrain
The primary goal in laying out a gladed trail or woods line is that the result must be fun to ski and snowboard. The need to fashion good ski-able terrain takes precedent over forest regeneration opportunities. If one finds oneself encountering desirable species that should not be cut, ecologically sensitive areas, and other forest features that keeps giving one pause, then it is time to rethink the line from scratch and look for an alternative. People ski and ride whatever you give them, so do not bring them to an silviculturally important place because they will blast right through. No one cares about growing new trees when there is a foot of powder in front of them.
The next important rule is to recognize that one can not get water from a stone. The land is what it is, and you can not make lousy terrain much better by cutting the trees. Removing trees might make the run hold less snow, in which case you made it worse. So be realistic about what you are working with.
Finally, as elevation increases the tolerance of the forest to cutting decreases. At upper elevations, soils are thin, rocky, and prone to sliding. Trees at upper elevations grow much more slowly than at lower elevations. Upper mountain forests are fragile ecosystems subject to the harshest weather conditions combined with stress from manmade pollutants in the form of acid rain. As elevation decreases, the forest grows faster and its tolerance for disturbance in the form of cutting and other human activities increases rapidly. Conversely, natural snow fall, and retention, increases with elevation. Therefore the mid-elevations of ski areas offer the best opportunities for trail, glade, and woods line development. Lower elevations are the most forgiving, but less natural snow fall and warmer temperatures render many ideas unrealistic.
Developing fun and exciting terrain involves having a sense of topography and downhill flow. The best way to accomplish this is to explore candidate runs during the winter on skis, followed by scouting on foot during the warm months. Here are some features to look for: