What You Can Do to Help Build And Maintain Trails.

Future Trail?

I receive a lot of offers of help from trail users who would like to lend a hand in trail construction. It amazes me that so many people want to help. When working on the Flume Trail or the Tahoe Rim Trail, we get a lot of thanks and very few offers of help.

If I were to put it into numbers I would say 5% of the users I see on the Flume or TRT ask if they can help. Compare that to 98% of the users I see in Ash Canyon who want to help. This indicates to me that our trail users are hungry for more trails.

Though I want and need help, and I realize there are many of you who want to help, I’m still trying to figure out how to manage what few trails we have on the west side. With sheep grazing in the hills, I don’t feel comfortable working around and possibly interfering with the sheepherder’s job.

Consider this, last year at this time the Creek Trail didn’t exist and there were only a few users in the Canyon. Now not only does the sheepherder have to watch out for bears, mountain lions, and coyotes, he has to deal with a large increase in human and K-9 traffic.

After the sheep leave the area I will organize, for those who are interested, trail building field trips in and around Ash Canyon.

The first field trip will most likely be a hike where I’ll identify areas that need attention and explain what needs to be done to stabilize the trail. I know that might sound a little boring, but before I put a tool into the ground, I sometimes analyze an area for weeks before I commit to building, re-routing, or repairing trail.

I also consult with three people who have more extensive knowledge of trail building; including soils, drainage, and trail flow issues. Their advice is invaluable.

The Creek Trail is a fairly well planned trail (the upper section anyway), and there is a reason for every feature on it. The trail has a few problems I need to correct, but for the most part it’s pretty decent. I mention this because we are at an important juncture in our quest for trails in Ash Canyon. We are about to transition from user created trails to professionally built trails, so I believe it is imperative that all of us interested in trail construction coordinate our efforts.

Since the upper section of the Creek Trail will more than likely be incorporated into the King’s Canyon to Ash Canyon Trail alignment, it will serve as a representation of what the KC to AC trail will look like. This means when the Forest Service takes a walk on the Creek Trail, they’ll be looking to see if the trail builder knows what he/she (I’ve been called both) is doing. This is important, because the Forest Service knows what to look for (erosion, flow, speed control, average grade), and a well built and maintained trail will show them we mean business.

So for everyone that would like to help build trails in Carson City here are few very important things you can do:

I.M.B.A– If you’re not already a member, you should be. Check out their resources page and read all the trail building info you can.

Tahoe Rim Trail– Outstanding organization which maintains one of the coolest trails in the world, and it’s in our backyard. They offer plenty of opportunities throughout the summer for you to get trail building experience, and they
provide training classes for those who want to get involved. On their website you can sign up for crew leader training for the May16-18 trail class. I’ll be there. (I don’t know everything, I only think I do.)

Muscle Powered– We are not offering training yet, but we are leading the charge to bring trails to the Capital City. Join Now!


I.M.B.A.’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack
– This book may be all you need to
get started, but read it and understand it thoroughly before you bring your tools to the trail.

Natural Surface Trails By Design
– Troy Scott Parker’s book is essential reading. I promise you’ll never look at trails the same way again.

Free Publications– Your tax dollars at work

After reading these publications, go to the Ash Canyon trails and identify what was done right and what was done wrong, and what would you do to improve it?

The more we educate ourselves in how to construct and maintain trails, the sooner we will be able to complete our trails after receiving final approval.

9 thoughts on “What You Can Do to Help Build And Maintain Trails.

  1. I’ve got Lightly on the Land as my reference. It doesn’t mention building stunts, but there is nothing like armoring the crap out of a section of trail so it no longer washes away every winter.

  2. I share your concern. Some trails are masterpieces and others are just there without consequence. The Creek Trail is a masterpiece and situated in a delicate place that took considerable work.

  3. Smudgemo- Thanks for mentioning ‘Lightly On The Land: The SCA Trail Building and Maintenance Manual’. You’re right, it doesn’t explain how to build stunts, but it does contain valuable info on how to construct (in detail) many features the other publications I mentioned don’t.

    Scott- Moser brought up a good point when we were discussing this situation, before I uploaded this post. He said “you don’t see individuals taking it upon themselves to remove rocks on the TRT or Flume Trails, so what makes them think it’s OK to do it on the Ash Creek Trail?”

    I believe I’m partly to blame. Everyone wants to help and be a part of this blossoming trail network, and I don’t want to discourage anyone’s contribution. But if people are going to take it upon themselves to do trail maintenance, they need to completely and entirely understand what they are doing.
    Just because a rider is having difficulty with a technical section doesn’t give them the right to remove or alter that section… they just may be removing another persons favorite trail feature.

    Here is an excerpt from my deleted rant:
    There are many ways rocks are used in trail design. For instance, rocks are aesthetically pleasing, but they are also used as passive speed control devices. And there is no better tread stabilizer than rock. On the Creek Trail, the rocks imbedded in the trail tread, right before the lower bridge, act as two functions. First, they act as a visual cue for the rider to slow down, second, they help stabilize the trail tread. REMOVING ROCKS IS NOT ADVISED!

    This is why I will conduct trail clinics and field trips to diagnose and repair potential problem areas. (Thanks for the great idea Jeff-M!)
    We all need to be on the same page.

  4. You guys are absolutely right the Creek trail needs no improvement as far as I am concerned . Someone other than the guys that built those trails have been doing some work on creek trail making it easer and that is not good.
    The work you folks have done up in A.C.T. is Fabulous.

  5. I’m from Enlgand, and found your site as I was looking for something totally different! I like the fact you are so obviously concerned about the impact your trails will have on the farming activity in the area. As a countryman myself, I enjoy biking, but am astounded at those who come out from the city to ride – they often demonstrate a complete disregard for the local area, livestock and other people’s property while they are here.

    Keep up the good work.

  6. 6dogs- Good stuff- Hey, glad I read this. I was about to head down there with my propane powered fire starter to clear some of that dry brush off the edges of the trail. I think I’ll just go home and shave my back instead in order to satiate my craving to destroy jungle foliage.

  7. I rode the Creek Trail at lunch. The last section before the climb-out rides very nicely now. An improvement. Some of the alterations up above though I didn’t care fore. It felt too wide. I like the narrowness of the creek trail, and it seemed to take away from it. Specifically before the 1st log crossing. That rock gap was a bit narrow, but it got your speed down for the log crossing. It’s wide open now!

    Narrow gaps help keep motorized traffic out too…

  8. Marcus- How about Napalm and an Ultra-Light.

    Moser- Thanks for bringing up the motorized traffic issue. One more reason we left that area narrow.

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