Our Decorah Trails are maintained by a local group called DHPT- Decorah Human Powered Trails. The individuals who make up DHPT volunteer their time to better our trails to ensure they are enjoyable for everyone on foot or on bike. Periodically there are trail workdays, but often times Travis and I find ourselves unable to go due to the time of year/time of day- this prompted us to help out on our own time.
I call it "Earning Your Ride"...I am an avid mountain biker who goes out almost daily. I love the local trails and want to help keep them fun for everyone. There are times I'll help out with moving fallen branches/tree limbs if I'm able to lift them. I've wanted to do more, and fallen leaves provided the perfect opportunity!
If you have a leaf blower, it would be much quicker, but some of the leaves were still quite wet and a rake made the job a bit more effective. I'm sure if my mom had seen me she would've laughed- I hated raking as a kid and here I was raking our local trails off with no complaint and a smile on my face.
There was something very gratifying when you see the progress of your efforts. With the wet leaves off you could consider the dirt to be our "Hero Dirt." Raking does take time and it is manual labor- with two people you can cover so much ground before your body retaliates.
When it was all said and done, we were proud of our work even tho I felt like I could've raked forever (really, I couldn't.) Besides, we had run out of water. The thought of being in the middle of a trail miles away from the truck was probably not the best idea. We opted to quit at a good spot and make our way home so I could enjoy a well-earned beer.
Volunteering your time doing trail work is a great way to give back to your local trails and the people who keep them in shape. Raking or leaf blowing is really helpful, especially if you have non-locals riding the trails. It helps with getting nuts (like acorns and walnuts) off the trail, which can easily make you wipe out if you were to hit them wrong or with too much speed.
Become part of your local trail organization and go to meetings if you can, this is a great way of getting to know the folks who love our trails. Think of it this way...if you can't donate money, it's easy to donate time! Everyone appreciates the effort, and you can feel good knowing you were part of the bigger picture. Plus, you'll enjoy riding clean trails- it's a simple and effective way of giving back and taking ownership for your local trail system.