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Soil erosion and land degradation on trail systems in mountainous areas: two case Studies from south-east BrazilThis paper addresses the role of soil erosion and mass movements on mountainous trails due to human trampling on steep slopes. This is the case of several trails situated on forested areas in South-East Brazil, even those located in protected areas. Two methods were used to achieve the research objectives. Firstly, analyses of microtopography using erosion bridges, which was monitored four times on Caixa D’Aço natural pool trails in Serra da Bocaina National Park. Secondly, disturbed and undisturbed soil samples were collected at 0–10 cm depth at four sites on Água Branca trail in Serra do Mar State Park. Using this methodology, we assessed soil degradation in two different humid tropical environments. Generally, trampling combined with deficient trail management, play important roles in degrading soils in both areas. Bioengineering techniques should be used to recuperate these trails, which are used by tourists and local residents. We hope this research work may contribute towards improved management in Brazilian protected areas.