Built Environment : Transportation Geography :

Transportation Structures:
Upland Type-Family

Descriptive List



Robinson road to Hill House beyond end of Hatmaker Lane, Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Upland / [Rolling Land] Route Type-Family
  1. Grade Route Type
    1. Blunt Grade Route Type
    2. Soft Grade Route Type
  2. Gully Route Type
  3. Sideling Route Type
    1. Sideling [Grade] Route Subtype
    2. Sideling Level Route Subtype
  4. Ridge Route / Crest Route / Summit Route Type
    1. Watershed Route Subtype
  5. Edge Route Type
  6. [Serpentine] Route Type
  7. Switchback Route Type

Upland / [Rolling Land] Route Type-Family

Runs on upland terrain; i.e., not on level or fairly level valley floors.

These route types are more reflective of much terrain control over route placement and design/evolution. This was allowed/tolerated because of the technological ability of the culture and/or priority of the route:

Perhaps two versions of each are necessary, depending on the coarseness / fineness of the terrain:

  1. a small version in composites like Serpentine, e.g. Carpenter's Hill on SR 28; and
  2. a larger version when more distinct, e.g. Cattail Road.


  1. Grade Route Type
    • Runs directly up/down a steep slope - route is perpendicular to the slope.

    • Two main variants:


      1. Andersonville Road, just west of Andersonville, Union Township, Ross County Hard Grade / Blunt Grade Route Type
        • Runs directly up/down a steep slope - route is perpendicular to the slope - full-force attack of the slope.

        • Usually acceptable only for short stretches, and used only when no other efficient alternate is available.

        • Usually used for only short distances and short, brief hillsides.


        Exemplia Gratia:


      2. Part of Cattail Road north of Egypt Pike, Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Soft Grade Route Type
        • The route runs on a gentle or relatively gentle hillside.

        • The slope is usually the easiest slope available in the vicinity:

          • In glaciated terrain with sizable hills (usually bedrock), a till slope is usually ideal

          • The crest between gulleys on such a slope is ideal.


        Exemplia Gratia:

  2. Gully Route Type
    • Runs up small, short tributary valley to move between valley floor and upland.

    • Valley usually has an ephemeral stream, thus causing less trouble to using it as pathway - the water does not flow all the time.

    • The route usually enters the gully halfway between the stream and its valley wall / gully wall, or on the edge of the wall like a BOS Route. This is because the stream is at its strongest near its confluence, and because the surrounding terrain, especially where the sloping gully meets the more level valley terrace, is likely to be swampy.

    • Route usually leaves the gully immediately beside or on top of the stream, since the stream is weakest at its head.

    • May be crossover from Valley Types, since these lead from the upland into a valley.

    Exemplia Gratia:


  3. Sideling Route Type
    • Route "sidles" up the side of a slope - runs fairly parallel to slope to avoid steep incline. ("Sidle" is a Appalachian term [I think] that means to walk up a hill at an angle to reduce the effort by lengthening the route but reducing the steepness.)

      • Webster: Adverb: Sidelong or sideways; obliquely. Adjective: Having an oblique position; inclined or sloping. 1300-1250 Middle English

    • Route is often curved due to the curve of the hillside and intersecting landforms, though sometimes straight on smooth slopes.

    Two main variants:


    1. Part of Pennyroyal Road, Union Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Sideling [Grade] Route Subtype
      • Hillside used to change elevation by aligning at an angle, to reduce the effort of climbing by lengthening the route but reducing the steepness.

      Exemplia Gratia:



    2. Part of US 50 between Mingo Road and Lower Twin Road, Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Sideling Level Route Subtype
      • Route runs along hillside only to get from one point to another on a usable route which happens to be on the side of a hill.

      • Hillside is used as effectively as possible, usually on a bench or some BOS.

      • Route is usually not perfectly level, but the intent of the route is not to change elevation, but just to pass through rough terrain.

      Exemplia Gratia:




  4. Part of 'Great Indian Warpath' from Jackson to Richmondale vicinity, as Jackson Township Road 211, Jackson County, Ohio, USA Ridge Route / Crest Route / Summit? Route Type
    • Route runs on the crest of a hill or ridge.

    • Usually an ancient route, a prehistoric trial, due to ideal trail-making condition on high and dry ridgetop (q.v. PA trails).

    • Route is usually not perfectly level, but the intent of the route is use a fairly level course through rough terrain, and utilize ideal trail conditions.

    • Narrower ridges force route into more serpentine character - trail is more willing to adjust horizontally than vertically.

    Exemplia Gratia:


    1. Watershed Route Subtype
      • Subtype (or same type, but different ...dichotomy!). Route in rolling land on crest, no matter how subtle; e.g. GBS. Perhaps different subtypes based on coarseness of terrain: extremes being GBS vs. Appalachian knife ridges...

      • But may seem to conflict with popular use of Portage Route: connecting nearby navigable ends of two waterways (q.v. Valley Routes). The Portage Route Type, however, is usually perpendicular to any ridge (=watershed). Perhaps a less restrictive name can embrace any path connecting headwaters.


  5. Part of western Upper Twin Road, Paint Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Edge Route Type
    • Route runs atop edge of a flat hilltop or plateau (probably to conserve farmland, like BOS). See also [Bluff / Highbank] Route Type

    • Though, route may be along hilltop edge only because it is in line with origin and destination - simply a means to an end.

    Exemplia Gratia:


  6. [Serpentine] Route Type
  7. Robinson road to Hill House beyond end of Hatmaker Lane, Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA
    • Route is an attack of slopes longer than acceptible by the Blunt Grade.

    • Route is usually resolved into a serpentine, sometimes almost switchback-like pathway with segments that alternately run perpendicular and then parallel to the slope. [squiggly line]

    • Route is actually a combination of short Blunt Grade and Sideling Grade routes. Natural terraces are utilized for short Blunt Grade segements, while Sideling Grade segments are applied to the steeper slopes. Gulley Route segments and Soft Grade segments are also incorporated as needed.

    • Do not confuse with true switchbacks (q.v.). [zigzg line]

    Exemplia Gratia:

    • Carpenter's Hill, Ohio SR 28, Twin Township, Ross County - after a brief Blunt Grade, a Sideling Grade curves around the slope and up to a short Sideling Level, then another straight Sideling Grade to the plateau.

    • Robinson road to Hill House beyond end of Hatmaker Lane, Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio. - after a Transverse Sprint from US 50: a Jog left into a Sideling Grade, Jog right, Blunt Grade, Jog left, Sideling Grade, Jog right, Blunt Grade, Jog right, Sideling Grade, and Jog left onto the hilltop.

    • Middle part of Pricer Ridge Road, Paint Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA

    • eastern hill on California Hollow Road, Paxton Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA

    • Part of Blain Highway, Twin Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA


  8. Switchback Route Type
    • Route runs up very steep hillsides (or mountainsides).

    • When used for auto roads, and when on very steep slopes or for heavy hauling trucks, it has true switchbacks: at the end of each zig-zag segment, the vehicle must reverse direction without turning - i.e., it drives forward up one segment, backwards up the next, forwards up the next, etc.

    • Instead of serpentine turns and jogs, the route uses a series of switchbacks: the route abrubtly reverses direction, with no choice but for a vehicle to also reverse direction not by turning around, but by going into reverse (and then alternating forward and reverse).

    • Necessary only with auto vehicles (and probably impossible with horse-drawn vehicles).