Avery Hoyt has been building trails since he was 10 days old.
“When I was born in 1983, my parents were working on a project in the North Cascades. My mom went out to Mt. Vernon for my birth in a local hospital. My dad got a helicopter ride out so he could be there for my birth and then went back to the project. My mom waited for 10 days and then hiked in to the project with me, 10 miles off the road, so we could be with my dad,” said Hoyt.
Hoyt’s parents, Daryl and Krista Hoyt, founded Twin Oaks Trails in 1978. They still run the business today, though their son has slowly but surely begun taking it over.
“Twin Oaks is a trail building and design company specializing in remote access construction sites in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, California and Alaska,” according to the company website.
Twin Oaks Trails started off by doing work with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and eventually moved to doing work with the state parks and recreation districts in Washington and Oregon. They also do trail work on privately owned lands. At the heart of this family business is getting people to reconnect with the outdoors.
“I’ve tried a couple other professional pursuits including being a massage therapist and a musician but have kept coming back to trail building. I love being outside. The technical challenges of our construction projects, the adventure of being in new places around our region, and helping to connect others with nature,” said Hoyt.
Hiking is a large part of the tourism industry in the Columbia River Gorge, people come from around the world to hike the various trails in the area, from the more naturally made trails on Dog Mountain to the man-made trails at Multnomah Falls. This begs the question, how does one design and construct a hiking trail?
“We have a lot of tools at our disposal to map out a trail, but sometimes we will go to a project that has had a lot of the early work done and we just need to do the construction piece of it,” said Hoyt.
Some of the tools that are used are maps of the property, GPS systems, slope grade detectors, and the newest essential tool, drones.
“Admittedly, we have only recently begun using drones on our projects,” said Hoyt.
Hoyt’s favorite jobs are design/build jobs, because it allows Twin Oaks Trails to really show off their full range of skills.
“Our specialty is in remote access areas. Places that are hard to get to and we have to hike in our equipment. For example, if people have steep slopes or sites on their property, they’ve never imagined being able to use, this is where we really shine,” said Hoyt.
Twin Oaks Trails offers trail design and building services, which includes building trail bridges, retaining walls, boardwalks and stairs in difficult terrain and remote areas. The company has built trails all over the Columbia River Gorge, from Carson to Mosier.
The cost to design and build a trail or elements to a trail is all dependent on the parameters of the project.
“The biggest thing for us is that each project is different due to the landscape and access constraints. While we use our experience and some base pricing for things, each price will be different and thus it’s difficult and counter- productive to say much about costs before we actually look at each site,” said Hoyt.
Ultimately for Hoyt, building trails is his way of helping people stress less, connect more with their surroundings, and get more out of life and the planet.