MADRID, Iowa – Hikers as a group often stray from the beaten path. At Ledges State Park that isn’t a problem, until those departures from designated trails lead to others following that same unbeaten path until it starts to look like a real trail. This is how a social trail is born.
Social trails lead to soil compaction and erosion issues and often actually go nowhere, forcing the hiker to backtrack to the real trail.
Andy Bartlett is the manager at Ledges. He spearheaded an effort, on Earth Day, to disguise some of those social trails using volunteer help, 300 seedling trees and leaf litter. By changing the look of the the entry to a social trail to nowhere Bartlett hopes hikers pass it by and stay on the actual trail.
The trees, mostly oaks, were made possible by a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation.