Have you ever dreamed of owning your own little slice of heaven and molding it into the perfect off grid retreat?
It’s no coincidence that homesteading and off grid living is on the rise and in a very big way!
You just need to turn on the TV and you’ll find several networks dedicating several seasons to this incredibly independent and fulfilling lifestyle.
Shows like Discovery Channel’s Homestead Survival, DIYNetwork’s Building Off The Grid, TLC’s Risking It All, and HGTV’s Sarah Off The Grid.
One of the best parts of off grid living is that you can choose the type of land you want to live on.
After all, it’s your land!
You might not be surprised to find out that most secluded off grid homes are tucked into a thickly forested area.
Oftentimes just a stone’s throw from a freshwater lake.
And guess what? You can lump us into that pine scented, forested dwelling group as well.
However, not every wooded plot of land comes with an access road direct to your build site.
We’ve written up 6 must know tips for how to buy off grid land.
Often times it’s up to the property owner (now you) to put in your own access road.
And that just might mean blazing a trail through the woods like we did.
Here’s what our finished trail looked like before the excavator got started putting in our gravel road.
In our last post we started blazing a 650 foot trail that will eventually become the main access road to our cabin.
Today, we’re happy to be finished blazing the trail and eager to show you the finished project!
This trail is critical in that it marks the way for our road builder to carefully strip the path for our future gravel road. This road will be the only access point tothe cabin and it’s how we’ll bring all 20,000lbs of building materials down to our build site.
But first, here’s a walk through of the old access trail that we’ve been using in order to get down to our build site.
As you can see in the satellite image below this existing access trail runs across two adjacent properties.
Click to see a larger view.
We were given permission by the existing landowner to utilize this old access trail until we could finish putting in our own gravel road.
You might be wondering why we didn’t just let the excavator operator drive straight through the woods along a bunch of trees marked with neon tape?
Well unfortunately our property shape is quite irregular.
You can see that in the black & blue outline in the image above.
Some sections are quite narrow and that means we need to exercise caution so that we don’t wander into someone else’s property.
Here’s a view BEFORE we even started blazing our trail.
TIP: We elected to mark out our property and select the exact locations where our road builder would strip. By doing this ourselves we save thousands on having a land surveyor come out to find the property markers.
While this might seem like an overwhelming job, and certainly not something I recommend everyone do, we had already found each of our property markers and taped off the circumference. This ensured the road would remained on our property only at all times.
We did this using public access satellite imagery (Google Earth), our phones GPS, and an online real estate program that shows our property lines (including our exact current location).
We go into detail of how we accessed satellite imagery of our land and located our property lines using an online website and iphone app.
Putting in a road is not as simple as driving through the woods and dropping trees.
When an excavator puts in a road the operator cannot simply push down trees left and right and tamp the ground down as they go. They must first push the trees over, pile them up in multiple piles and drive BESIDE the road in order to tamp it down with the bucket.
Hence the reason we needed to be very precise with marking the trees along our property line and brazing the trail.
Once the trail was completed we directed the operator to stay ON and TO THE RIGHT SIDE of the trail we had made. This would would unsure he was on our property at all times.
Even in thickly forested areas that may never see another person, our municipal guidelines gave a ruling on how close to our property lines we could clear and place fallen trees.
Our rule of thumb is…
When clearing your property ensure to stay a minimum of two feet away from the line separating you from the adjacent property. This includes trees cutting and felling trees onto adjacent properties.
But of course BEFORE you start clearing your land find out the specific code(s) in your area.
Every area is different and the 2 foot property line rule is what applies to us here.
Please note: many of these links below are affiliate links, so when you purchase any of these items through the links on this page, we will receive a small commission that is used to help keep The Off Grid Cabin running. We’ve found that Amazon has excellent product descriptions, detailed personal reviews, and some of the lowest prices available.
These are all products that we either personally own, use or support and if you purchase items through these links, you have our sincere thanks!
- Buck saw
- Hand Axe
- Bush axe
- Pruning shears
- Bear spray
- Work gloves
- Safety Glasses
- Ear Protection
Always use the right tool for the job. That includes safety equipment.
As you saw in our first trail blazing post we started with hand tools and quickly moved up to a using the chainsaw for everything.
TIP: Do yourself a favour that most people never do and that’s to read the owners manual for any and all power equipment you use off grid. Not only will you be safe out there in the woods but you’ll learn how to correctly maintain and repair your gear.
I can’t stress enough how critical it is to work safely. Especially when your working solo and so far off the grid. If you can, have a charged cell phone on you at all times.
Trail Blazing Day 1
Here’s a quick video of the first day of trailblazing.
Trail Blazing Day 2
Here’s a short video of what was completed on day two.
The Trail Is Finally Complete!
A quick walk through after the trail blazing is finished.
As this chapter of trailblazing closes it marks the beginning of our off grid building adventure!
It took us a total of two days to clear the 40ft x 60ft build site and another four days to blaze a 650ft trail from the build site to the top of Hidden Lane.
We’ve covered the different hand tools and safety equipment we’ve used as well as techniques to mark the property lines. We used Google earth’s satellite imagery, a real estate website called ViewPoint.ca and our phone’s GPS to locate and mark all out property markers and boundaries.
Sure it’s a tough job cutting a trail through dense forest but it’s also extremely satisfying. .
Your creating a path that will serve as the access route to your off grid home potentially for generations to come.
Remember to always use the appropriate safety gear and properly maintain your equipment.
Lastly when you’re working off grid, and especially alone, it’s wise to have a fully charged cell phone on you at all times.
Fast forward a few months and despite all our efforts… we still have no road!
Our road builder unfortunately got tied up in several other projects before he could get to ours.
With winter swiftly approaching that meant our road wasn’t going to see any progress until next spring.
There are certain weight restrictions on the municipal roads, as well as the gravel roads, that lead to our property during the winter months. Most heavy trucks and equipment are not allowed (by law) on these roads until a specific time in spring.
So what happened was…
We ended up having to buy an ATV and a small folding utility trailer in order to transport all our building materials down to the build site.
We did it through that old access trail that ran across two other properties.
So, unfortunately we won’t be using our newly blazed trail for some time!
YUP… life off the grid just got interesting to say the least!
We’ll cover the road building, materials, construction and cost in an upcoming post to stay tuned.
Are you ready to blaze a trail through the woods if it entailed you doing so?
If you’ve ever done it or plan too let us know in the comments below.
We’d love you hear from you.
For all our Pinterest Pinners out there here’s something just for you…