Much of the trails in Saginaw Forest have been raked - by yours truly.
Why did I do all of this? After all, next year, it will all get covered again, right?
Well, each of the last few years, I've had to negotiate walking along the pathways in the springtime, with them in a treacherous semi-frozen, semi-slushed, semi-muddy mess. Over the year, the walking of the trails crushes the leaves, breaking them down. And then, when the snows come, the ground (and leaves and mashed leaves) gets saturated. When this starts to thaw, the leaves produce discontinuous layers of ice, frozen leaves, water, slosh, wet leaves, etc. In other words: a mess.
The idea is that - since most of the soil of the property is sand, and the majority of the paths are gravel laid atop this sand - if I rake the leaves, there will be greater amounts of infiltration in the spring. Furthermore, even in places where the leaf litter buildup and decomposition have accumulated a significant enough layer of soil, raking away the leaves will allow for this soil to be more easily washed away, revealing the gravel path below (thus improving the quality of the pathways - as pathways).
I even raked a trail out to Westview Way, so that it will be easy to stay off the untrodden ground (we don't like unnecessary soil compaction) while walking into the facility: