8

There is a trail (Not really a "trail" as such), adjacent to my appartment I am lucky to be by a 100m x 500m patch of earth (not an official park), that is not built on. Swerving from the trail, where people walk their dogs, there is a tiny opening, covered by a tree. I like it a lot and would like to maintain it.

Problem is, it is not a good neighbourhood. Once with a few friends we built a swing and a bench, they were gone in less than 24 hours - apparently people with knives and heavy boots didn't like it!

By maintain I mean clear up the broken bottles and possibly even out the earth with a shovel.

Luckily, the opening isn't visible from the main "trail for dogs". Its a clearly marked trail turn, but a 90 degree turn hides the destination.

My question is how can the trail turn be hidden?

It doesn't have to resist careful inspection, but it should fool a couple of drunks, making them think twice about entering.

I visit the place with at most a couple friends at a time about twice a week. The broken bottles and other rubbish seem quite dug into the earth, therefore I doubt a great amount of people visit the place in recent years.


EDIT:

As I was wondering which advice to adhere to, summer weeks passed and someone did it before me. They cleaned up some vegetation, constructed simple table and chairs out of thrown away furniture. The place is quite nice now for a good book, high above the evil ticks.

So, I shall not accept an answer, because there is no way to judge what would have happened. But I like the answer about approaching from different angles the most :D

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    Is there an argument to say that if you cleaned it up and made it more accessible to all then the drunks would go somewhere else, somewhere more private?! – user2766 Apr 13 '15 at 15:00
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    How do you know that whoever is in charge of this land didn't take down the swing and bench? – Olin Lathrop Apr 13 '15 at 16:30
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    Firstly, 4 entirely new tags for a question with 0 upvotes seems over the top, some should be removed. Secondly, @OlinLathrop, I have lived here for some time and never seen authorities in this land. People walk their dogs in the most accessible parts, but never seen cops or workers anywhere around. There are some ruins, lots of thorns. No one cares about this land, until they get a permission for building something on it. – Vorac Apr 13 '15 at 16:56
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    @Liam, it's a small opening, at summer surrounded by high bushes. I do not who goes there, but the place is quite private (hidden from sight). – Vorac Apr 13 '15 at 16:58
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    I think posting a picture of the place you are talking about and the trail you want to hide would really help in answering your question. – Paul Paulsen Apr 14 '15 at 10:29
15

I can't speak for lands inside a city, but out in the woods the best way to hide a trail, is not to leave a trail. I grew up in the sticks where growing up everyone I knew had a secret fort somewhere in the dense forest, the thing to do with your buddies after school was to hang out at your secret fort; building it up, fortifying it, shooting BB guns, or scouting around trying to find someone else's fort to raid for nails and other building supplies (there was no hardware store in town to buy that kind of stuff).

Trails were a dead give away, if you saw a small foot trail heading into the trees off of one of the many access trails, odds were good you'd find a tree fort at the end of it, the hardest forts to find were ones that didn't have an obvious trail leading to them.

If you don't want people to find your secret spot, don't tread down a nice path to get there, access it from different directions, but don't damage the under growth. This was easy enough for us to do in the East Kootenays, because there's loads of deadfall in the woods, so we would just walk along the fallen trees and never touch the ground.

The trick is to Leave no Trace as you move through the bush, you do this by not disturbing any of the growth and traveling on durable surfaces.

No one is going to lecture you about picking up broken glass and maintaining a pretty spot in the woods. Picking up litter is a service, and everyone enjoys when things look more pretty. But I wouldn't leave anything behind though, dropping swings and furniture on someone else's land is littering, doesn't matter if it's nice comfortable litter or not. Bring a picnic blanket and a hammock in your bag instead.

10

This answer is "you shouldn't", since it appears from your description it's not your land and you have no authority over it.

Unauthorized private modifications to public land can be a serious problem. Not only can you get into trouble doing it, it may make work and cause problems for those who are in charge.

If you really want to see this trail marking changed, find out who owns the land and who has authority over the trails (may not be the same people, committee, etc), and make a request to them. When doing so, make it clear you are willing to help as a volunteer to perform any work. However, you should not take it upon yourself to make modifications to something that's not yours without the proper permission.

I can tell you for sure that if you came to my town and started modifying markings at trail intersections, we'd take a very dim view of that. If you came to the Trails Committee instead with a proposal, we'd kick it around and evaluate the idea with the benefit of the general public in mind. There may also be various restrictions and deals made about trails on that property that you are not aware of. Those may proclude a certain type of use, or even a certain type of signage. Yes, both of these restrictions, and a number of others, exist of various parts of our trail network.

Added in response to comments

Wow, we have a tough crowd here. The main objection seems to be that this answer doesn't apply to the OP's location. Maybe it doesn't, but there is no way to know since the OP never mentioned a location. If you want a answer that is specific to a location, you need to specify that location in the question.

I just checked, and the OP is in Bulgaria according to his profile. I don't know what laws and customs are like in Bulgaria, and of course we don't know if that's where the OP is actually asking about either. In any case, this answer is still correct for significant parts of the world, including where I am, which is in the US, more specifically New England.

Around here, even in a city, someone will own the land and have authority over it. While walking on it is generally OK as long as it's not specifically posted "No trespassing", making any modifications without permission of the land owner is not OK. This would include trimming branches to make a trail, or to deliberately obfuscate a existing trail. It would absolutely include putting up a swing and installing benches.

To take this even further, in some cases modifications, even just clearing a trail, may take more permission than just the land owner's consent. There can be various ordinances in a city governing vacant property. Here in Massachusetts anything within 100 feet of a wetland requires permission from the local Conservation Commission in addition to consent from the land owner.

So all those quick to downvote because they assume it doesn't apply to the OP's particular sitation need to consider that it does apply to many such situations in many parts of the world. I don't really care whether this answer ultimately helps the OP or not. However, it is something anyone else contemplating something similar should consider carefully since it may apply to them. Downvote as you see fit, but I'm leaving this here because it is in line with the Stack Exchange stated goal of building broad and long-lasting repository of questions and answers.

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    +1 for offering to volunteer, that's always a good sign to show commitment to a change in an area. – Aravona Apr 13 '15 at 14:59
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    Your idea of civilization differs from mine. In the same field people burn stolen cables to get rid of the insulation, often causing fires. My neighbours throw out construction waste in order to avoid paying for transportation. A couple of homeless people live in those fields. And I'm in a capital 30 minutes from the center. – Vorac Apr 13 '15 at 17:02
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    -1: It does not attempt answer the question. Plenty of places in the world have different ideas of land ownership and stewardship to the 1st world western cultures where the ideas presented would be incorrect. – user5330 Apr 13 '15 at 20:36
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    -1: I don´t think you understood the situation here. It is a patch of 0.05 square-kilometers in the middle of a city. There will not be any "trail-commitee", and there won´t be official trails or even "trail-markings". The question if you should use this land or not is another one, but here I would second @mattnz perspective. I think your answer does not suit the question. – Paul Paulsen Apr 14 '15 at 10:15
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    +1: Modification of a land not being owned by self is not appropriate. Olin has a valid point and I do not see the reason why anyone, anywhere in the world, irrespective of the country and rules would try to hide a patch of land. The answer seems appropriate and explains why one wouldn't want to do so. – Ricketyship Apr 17 '15 at 5:16
9

This answer assumes that either land ownership is not an issue, or that you have permission from the owner. Please read Olin Lanthrop's answer for a discussion of the ethical issues of whether you SHOULD do this.

A lot of the details of trail obfuscation depend on the local ecosystem. For instance, a general rule is to put branches in front of the trail head, to block it and obscure it. This is very effective in dense woodland, and moderately effective in sparse woodland or dense grasslands, where fallen branches are reasonably common. In a barren area, it simply calls attention to the trailhead, and a new entrance will quickly appear beside the original entrance. In a rocky area, placing small boulders at the trailhead may help hide it.

Soil compaction is the main thing that distinguishes a trail from the surrounding land. The tramped down soil makes it harder for seeds to take root, as well as providing the ground with a distinctive appearance. If you loosen the first few inches of soil with a rock rake or other tool, it will only take a few months or years for the land to look more like the surrounding area without any interference. To speed this up, you can plant some of the fast growing plants (weeds, probably) common to the park.

Disguise the ground cover: If the land around the trailhead is loose-fallen leaves, rake some of the leaves over the trail. If it's all dead grass, lay some dead grass on it, and be prepared to replace it as it blows away. Loosening the soil also changes the appearance significantly, but it gets tramped down very easily.

In this case, what I would do would be to scatter some mid-size branches along the first 2-4 meters of the trail, and rake some of the surrounding land cover over the trail for the same distance. This provides immediate cover. If the trail is wide enough to be narrowed, rake the ground cover a few inches deep to allow plants to grow easily, and toss out some seeds for common, fast-growing plants that are already in the lot. It will take very little use to compact the soil again, so the last step may not be worth the trouble on a trail you'll be using frequently.

2

Given your environment, disguise the packed portion of dirt with litter. If you make it look disgusting (add a rubber dead rat...) more people will avoid even walking near it.

Adding something that stinks in a mesh bag tucked out of sight nearby will also repel people.

If the trail is more than one bush long, put a more than right angle turn in it.If you look down the trail start and see a bush, it's not obvious there is a trail there.

Keep the bushes on either side thick: Add about 1/2 cup of 20-20-20 fertilizer in a 4 foot diameter circle for each bush.

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