How to build access trails/road
General Deer Topics
Messages posted to thread:
Mike Castillo 25-Mar-16
Grunter 25-Mar-16
t-roy 25-Mar-16
Pat Lefemine 25-Mar-16
WV Mountaineer 25-Mar-16
Franzen 25-Mar-16
Steve Leffler 25-Mar-16
fisherick 26-Mar-16
HANS1 26-Mar-16
1boonr 26-Mar-16
willliamtell 27-Mar-16
Pat Lefemine 27-Mar-16
Ben 27-Mar-16
drycreek 27-Mar-16
Wayne Helmick 27-Mar-16
kellyharris 27-Mar-16
elkstabber 28-Mar-16
AH 28-Mar-16
Joey Ward 28-Mar-16
Treefarm 28-Mar-16
Mike Castillo 29-Mar-16
liv4it 29-Mar-16


It has become apparent to me that I am going to have to build a trail/road around the permiter of my property so I can get my tractor and ATV around and access the property efficiently. So, my question is how do I do that? Do I need to hire somebody with a bulldozer, or can I do it by hand and with my tractor. Ideally, I'd like to be able to plant the road to add overall feed to the property...Anyone done this?


Get the chainsaw out and get cutting. You'll have a trail in no time

By: t-roy

It depends on how wooly it is. If it's just small trees & brush, you could probably get by with just a chainsaw & some sweat. If it has some bigger trees & if you are wanting to plant the trails to clover,etc., then I would suggest hiring a dozer. It can be a PITA to try & farm/mow around stumps. It might be a little spendy, but they will have it done in no time vs doing it by hand if that is even possible. Plus, if you had an additional spot or two that you wanted to put in a food plot, they could clear those areas while they were there instead of wishing you had done it five years down the road!

How big is the property? Mostly brush & small trees, or bigger trees in those areas?

Either way, enjoy every minute of it! Nothing like owning your own dirt!


Pat Lefemine's embedded Photo

There is only one tool for that job if you want to do it quickly and cleanly and that's a dozer. You can rent one for the day and by the time you send it back you'll want to buy it. It's the single best investment I ever made for my property. Now I can build my own fields, make and maintain my own roads, clear snow, grade for drainage and pull anything that's stuck out of the ground.

A lot of places rent my particular dozer which is the Deere 450H, or a similar sized Cat D3. I wouldn't go any smaller. You can go bigger but you don't need to and you will be wasting money.

Check out this video:


the only way a tractor and cutting will do what you desire is if it is FLAT. Listen to Pat. He had a similar request a couple years ago. He sorted through the flat lander talk and bought the right machine. It will work circles around a bucket loader, tractor, back hoe in terrain. Plus do everything they will in flat ground. God Bless


Personally I would make your "road", which won't be very wide, and not worry about the entire perimeter for food. Then I would select certain areas to widen your "road", effectively making food plots that would be decent for growing a food source. If there are no trees on the adjacent property then maybe you can get by with just planting your narrow road and having some success growing food.


Mike, I have done some of both. I have roads we have used for log removal that I paid to have a dozer make nice. I have other trails that I can get the tractor through but are not perfect. If you want to come over and walk them let me know. In the long run having good access will greatly improve your enjoyment of the land and is a good investment I believe.


My cousin owns 300 acres in Vermont for a hunting camp. Over several years we installed ATV perimeter roads, trails, pond, and food plots. Some were cleared with chain saws and others with small dozer or backhoe. The ATVs will go anywhere you point them. Best advice buy a small used dozer and sell it when done. Install a food plot road down the center of your property to keep the animals there.


Depends on the size of the property and your skill set. On a larger property and if you are handy mechanically owning one may make sense. Otherwise hire someone for a few days and make sure you are there every step of the way. Have it all planned and all culverts or other materails on site. Also think about future need and have the dozer stock pile dirt for smoothing areas as they settle.

By: 1boonr

hire an escavator or as some would say hi-hoe which will knock trees over and then can move or pile them up anywhere. here in Illinois it will be around $150 per hour but they can do a lot in a day. you have to do it right and get rid of stumps.


Pat is the reason you didn't pile slash together and diesel and burn it is you wanted to get the foot plot going right away?


No, We always pile the trees and brush on the perimeter in strategic locations to force the deer through specific funnels. Besides, burning in NY State is subject to inspectors and permits and all sorts of regulatory BS. But even it it wasn't I still like creating brush pile perimeters.

By: Ben

We can burn brush piles about anytime except during burn bans due to dry, windy weather. That being said I haven't burned a brush pile in 30 years on our farm. Lots of animals call them home. Any cover I can give them and not effect our farming I leave.


When I cleaned up the perimeter around my place, I first flagged off what I wanted gone. Then, I sold the timber. Clear cut it. Then, I hired a trackhoe ( excavator ) to pop the stumps and trash, and I came behind him with my dozer and leveled/cleaned up. The hoe can pile the stumps and trash cleaner and higher and it's ready to burn after a little drying time. A dozer, with an amateur running it, gets as much dirt in the pile as it does brush. Even a good operator will get some dirt in the pile, and it's tedious and time consuming. If you just want to windrow dirt and all, by all means, use a dozer. I wanted mine burned and it worked out well. I waited until winter and burned it with my dozer and did some more clean-up as I went.


Fisherick brings up a good point. By creating a road around the perimeter and planting it you are inviting all your neighbors to put stands up 20 yards off your fence. Maybe a bare minimum (ATV/tractor) trail around the outside would be better.


A guy on our lease owns a large excavating company in Cincinnati. He owns about every piece of equipment you could imagine.

When he joined our lease he said Harris we need roads and a lot of them.

I asked him what size dozer he was bringing. He laughed and said I have a big cat skid steer I can get 5 times the amount of work done.

The work he got done with the amount of time he had in it was amazing.

If I were you reach out to an excavator and have them tell you what you need. It's their profession to know these things.


For access roads I don't believe you should think about planting them with anything. One of the primary purposes of an access road is to monitor your property line. This also makes it clear to your neighbors where the property line is. You certainly don't want to draw your neighbors' attention to deer on your access road either.

If you wanted to plant some internal access roads you would have to clear them carefully. Any heavy equipment (dozer, excavator, etc) will clear and grade a path quickly but will remove the topsoil that is needed to grow anything well. This applies to foodplots too. If you have to strip the topsoil to clear a foodplot you've just ruined the foodplot.

A good dozer operator could use a "rootrake" to remove the stumps, roots, and brush. This is a good option if you are truly interested in planting your access roads.

Lastly, if you want to grow much you'll need to provide more sunlight to the access roads for whatever you plant (like clover). This means that your paths will need to be considerably wider.

Good Luck!

By: AH
AH's Supporting Link

I have the forest service do it with a dozer and a root rake. They are very helpful with exactly what you want and don't charge much. Perimeter roads are firebreaks and very important to maintain especially when you want to do a controlled burn.

Start with a phone call to the link.


I want what Pat has.



Treefarm's embedded Photo

I just made a perimeter trail and two cross-cuts using a tracked Bobcat 870 with a Fecon forestry mower. All I can say is WOW! I had trails in a jiffy. I pulverized box elder all the way down.


Wow, thanks guys for all the great insights. My primary motivation is to be able to move about the property with equipment, and be able to check trail cameras from the seat of my Electric cart and never set foot on the ground. I have a call in to a local excavation company who is going to walk the property with me, and I will hire him for a day or three.

Thanks again!

By: liv4it

liv4it's embedded Photo

I too had that dilemma. After a lot of review I went with a skid steer. It will be much more versatile being you can buy or rent about any attachment you can imagine. The mountain property I purchased is fairly rocky and it took more time to build roads than if I used a dozer. But I also used it to auger holes for a cabin foundation. In a one season I put 100 hours on it and this to list for it keeps growing. Just my experience.

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