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What do you look for in a trail?

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What do you look for in a trail?

Old 03-04-16, 10:13 AM
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Teknomage
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What do you look for in a trail?

I work for a small city in central Texas. The council here has decided to put in a bike trail but don't really know where to go from that point. What do you look for in a decent trail for mountain biking? What would be the minimum length for one? Thanks for any feedback.
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Old 03-04-16, 12:22 PM
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You are going to get very mixed feedback on what makes a trail good. Here is some useful information:

The McDonalds of Trail Building: Standardizing Mountain Bike Trails | Singletracks Mountain Bike News

https://www.imba.com/resources/trail...lding-mistakes

Do you have a local MTB club or a group of riders? They could be a very helpful in designing the trail.
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Old 03-04-16, 03:37 PM
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One of our areas in Oklahoma City is called the Bluff Creek recreational area

Its multi use -- it has a circular blacktop trail in the center that runs about 1.5-2 miles . The trail entrance has a little pavillion area for picnics or for post ride kicking back.

The mountain biking trail (hikers and trail runners use it too) - sort of surrounds the blacktop, but loops in and out of a nearby creek bed. Its 5 miles total, but there are several areas where people can jump off the mountain bike singletrack and hit the blacktop for a less stressful trip back to the truck if someone gets winded, - or if they want to break the ride up into shorter laps rather than 5 mile chunks. --

A multi use area is great --- i see families pushing baby strollers, walking dogs, etc. - cyclists and trail runners on the singletrack , - and its a real harmonious place

If you can manage a field trip on "company time" - it might be worth a visit to check it out and emulate some features.

We also have other trail areas that are more "hardcore" - and they are popular , but the multi use area is nice
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Old 03-04-16, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Wingsprint View Post
You are going to get very mixed feedback on what makes a trail good. Here is some useful information:

The McDonalds of Trail Building: Standardizing Mountain Bike Trails | Singletracks Mountain Bike News

https://www.imba.com/resources/trail...lding-mistakes

Do you have a local MTB club or a group of riders? They could be a very helpful in designing the trail.
Thanks. I've sent those two links over to the City Manager to look over. We don't currently have a MT club in our area. We do have a group of road bike riders.
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Old 03-04-16, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
One of our areas in Oklahoma City is called the Bluff Creek recreational area

Its multi use -- it has a circular blacktop trail in the center that runs about 1.5-2 miles . The trail entrance has a little pavillion area for picnics or for post ride kicking back.

The mountain biking trail (hikers and trail runners use it too) - sort of surrounds the blacktop, but loops in and out of a nearby creek bed. Its 5 miles total, but there are several areas where people can jump off the mountain bike singletrack and hit the blacktop for a less stressful trip back to the truck if someone gets winded, - or if they want to break the ride up into shorter laps rather than 5 mile chunks. --

A multi use area is great --- i see families pushing baby strollers, walking dogs, etc. - cyclists and trail runners on the singletrack , - and its a real harmonious place

If you can manage a field trip on "company time" - it might be worth a visit to check it out and emulate some features.

We also have other trail areas that are more "hardcore" - and they are popular , but the multi use area is nice
I'll have to see if we could do a day trip or something like that. We do have a park to the south of us that has mountain bike trails so we might go down there as well.
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Old 03-04-16, 04:32 PM
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Spokane has some awesome trails, one area is called Beacon Hill, more info here - Camp Sekani & Beacon Hill | Evergreen East - Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance Eastern Washington Chapter
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Old 03-04-16, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Teknomage View Post
Thanks. I've sent those two links over to the City Manager to look over. We don't currently have a MT club in our area. We do have a group of road bike riders.
An active and politically engaged club can make a huge difference in keeping trails open and adding new trails. Here is an great example of a club that has made a huge impact in the Charlotte area:

Tarheel TrailBlazers - Charlotte Mountain Bike Club
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Old 03-05-16, 06:21 AM
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I look for options, but mostly good 'Flow'

I want the trail to make me work, hard. As In doing it right pays off with a good thrill of accomplishment and I want to feel like I had a workout but not so hard that I have to stop and puke at the trails end
I tend to stay off most black diamond trails as the potential for Injury Is just too much for my tastes, I have to go to work and pay bills.
The few Black Diamond trails I ride have bail outs or hard section bypasses that I can use, some are aerobically too much for me, bail outs and bypasses let me 'Work Out' on them.

The 'Blue' Intermediate trails I ride are quite a challenge and If I want more I turn up the speed some.

My single most Important tip/advice:

Water run off !
Trails must not become washouts or rivers, water will destroy a trail.
Always engineer a trail to shed water. If possible water should move down a hill away from the trail and when crossing a trail It should cross in a wide as possible path..
Deeper fast water cuts deep, shallow wide slower flows move less hard pac....
Low maintenance Is a big deal..

As for minimum length~ We have a few short trails of 100-200 yards or so, they are great because of the Intensity of the features.
Gator pit:
A 15' drop and a 15' climb, Can be ridden with very little pedaling if you 'Drop In fast'.
Followed by a hair pin left ending in a two foot straight down air drop onto a down slope, At the gate to the drop are two close trees...
Then a speed building run with a few small jumps all the while arcing right and getting sandy...
The challenge here is to hold your speed as the sand gets deeper because the climb out is mean.
At the top of the climb out is a switch back and the last leg Is a much needed flat rest run to the end with an area to re group before entering Golf Cart, a much longer trail.
The 'Fun half' of Gator pit,,I think most run It In less than 30 seconds, I never pass it up

SWAMP Mountain Bike Club Trails in Florida

SWAMP Balm Boyette Scrub Preserve Mountain Bike Trail


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Old 03-07-16, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
One of our areas in Oklahoma City is called the Bluff Creek recreational area

Its multi use -- it has a circular blacktop trail in the center that runs about 1.5-2 miles . The trail entrance has a little pavillion area for picnics or for post ride kicking back.

The mountain biking trail (hikers and trail runners use it too) - sort of surrounds the blacktop, but loops in and out of a nearby creek bed. Its 5 miles total, but there are several areas where people can jump off the mountain bike singletrack and hit the blacktop for a less stressful trip back to the truck if someone gets winded, - or if they want to break the ride up into shorter laps rather than 5 mile chunks. --

A multi use area is great --- i see families pushing baby strollers, walking dogs, etc. - cyclists and trail runners on the singletrack , - and its a real harmonious place

If you can manage a field trip on "company time" - it might be worth a visit to check it out and emulate some features.

We also have other trail areas that are more "hardcore" - and they are popular , but the multi use area is nice
He's not wrong. We also have a multi-use area called Turkey Mountain (coincidentally, we're just up the road in Tulsa). Look it up. The city has put a ton of effort into it over the past couple years. It has access to a miles (and miles and miles) asphalt trail along the river as well as the immediate plethora of mountain biking/hiking trails. At the trailhead are also bathrooms, three pavilions (one huge, the others smaller), a small playground, and some wide open field just for playing around.

A couple times recently part of the land has been chosen for malls/theme parks, and the citizens of Tulsa pretty much took up arms against it. All projects seized and a large charity organization is purchasing it and donating it, I think.

Anyway, it's fantastic and the city loves it. It's so popular parking has become an issue, though. The other downfall is for a long, long time it was not nearly this nice, and those who blazed many trails did not do so wisely, so there's been damage to the land accordingly. Heavy rains can completely change a trail (my last two times out I've stalled/spun out on a technical climb I haven't stalled/spun out on in 6 years). That and it spiderwebs endlessly in all directions. I cannot tell you the number of times I've been lost, sometimes for an hour or so, having to use the sun just to get out of there. BUT, how to set up the trailhead/amenities/surrounding area/proximity is terrific.

Bring in mountain bikers - great. Bring in families, hikers, event-planners, roadies... Now you've got some force in numbers.

If you do make a trip to Oklahoma, Lake McMurtry in Stillwater is a good run and perhaps worth a stop. Best trail marking I've seen. DMC may have more feedback on that, too.
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Old 03-07-16, 12:57 PM
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So, a mt bike trail? First define users. Mt bikers of course. Multi use? Dog walkers, horses, kids with parents? What kind of land do you have to work with? Connect with other trails? Any vernal pools, streams, historical, or sensitive areas to deal with? Abutting neighbors? I would highly recommend the 2 trail books put out by IMBA, will answer many of your questions. Bigger questions. Budget, users, who will build it, maintenance?
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