OBP: A trajectory that strayed Off the Beaten Path

Starting as soon as he could walk, Jed Talbot could generally be found outside somewhere with dirt in his fingernails and mud on his shoes. Whether poking around the tidal riverbanks and floodplain forests around Merrymeeting Bay, or following abandoned stone walls and climbing the ancient "wolf" trees among reforested pasture lands, Jed's upbringing was a uniquely Maine experience. His first real jobs were in the family auction, antique and restoration carpentry business where a reverence for the ways of the early American pioneer was deeply instilled.


Heading off to Carleton College in Minnesota, Jed experienced conservation and trail work for the first time through a four year work study in the college's arboretum. His academic work felt somewhat trivial compared with the fulfillment experienced through hands-on conservation work. The year after graduating, Jed enrolled in a residential Student Conservation Association (SCA) and AmeriCorps program based in Bear Brook State Park, NH. Somewhere in between teaching grade school conservation lessons and building rock staircases and timber bridges from materials found in the woods, Jed knew he had discovered what he was meant to do.


Jed went on to lead high school trail crews, special projects, and skills workshops for SCA all over the country.  He sought out employment through some of the most well known private trail contracting companies in the east, learning the variety of skills needed to tackle the gamut of tasks related to trail work. Jed learned much of this while working for Peter S. Jensen and Associates, LLC from 2002 to 2009 as an employee, then a subcontractor, then an LLC partner.


Off the Beaten Path was established in 2004, but remained a seasonal business due to Jed's commitment to Peter S. Jensen and Associates, LLC.  At the start of 2010, Jed focused his full energies to OBP and working closer to his home state of Maine.  In the winter of 2011, OBP expanded to encompass low impact logging and timber stand improvement work in addition to trail based activities. The business name officially changed to OBP Trailworks, LLC in 2016.


Hallmarks of the company's construction projects include technical stone and timber work, naturalistic accessible trails, and challenging backcountry rigging systems. The influence of the early stone artisans on the Maine coast and the rustic timber craft displayed in many of the old farms and homesteads where Jed grew up is evident in OBP's work. As of 2023, OBP has fulfilled over 150 trail construction and maintenance contracts in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Argentina.


Jed's passion for understanding and developing safe, sustainable, and creative trail construction techniques is matched by his desire to teach and inspire others who wish to pursue conservation related work. He has facilitated well over 125 workshops on trail building techniques to volunteer, municipal, federal, private, public, and non-profit crews around the country and beyond.


Jed is a co-author of the upcoming United States Forest Service manual titled "Principles of Backcountry Rigging". He is a board member and Past President of the Professional Trailbuilders Association, a board member of the World Trails Network, a Certified Erosion Control Specialist for the State of Maine and a Certified Professional Logger.