Okay, I’ll admit it… I enjoy a good trail (who doesn’t??) but I’m one of those people who rides the trails vs builds them and judging by the amount of people who show up for trail days in Cumberland, I’m not the only one! So when I heard that IMBA was coming to town to show us how to Design and Maintain Sustainable Trails I decided it was time to learn more about trail building and maintenance. I was also hoping to earn some trail karma…
The day started with an in-class session where we were shown a presentation that covered the basics of what makes a good trail and how to limit environmental impacts. Most of the trails in my area are “fall line” trails which are notorious for water erosion since they follow the shortest route down the trail, this is also the same way water flows. We were taught how to create bench-cut trails with a gentle outslope which guides the water off the trail and minimizes erosion.
After a break for lunch it was time to put what we learned into practice. We headed off to the Snowden Demonstration Forest to a trail called “Dean Martin”. Part of the trail went down into a gully and back up the other side, it definitely needed some work. Chad and Leanne from IMBA had already done some prep work the day before and had the trail reroute marked. It was to be redirected along the edge of the gully as a bench cut trail and it was up to us to rebuild it. We also needed to return the old portion of the trail back to nature.
I started off working on the new portion of the trail. We needed to reclaim some of the top soil and move it down to the old trail below so we shoveled dirt into buckets and carried it down to the others so they could cover the old portion of the trail and plant ferns where the trail was. Work went fast, there were somewhere between 30-40 of us working on the trail. Once we were finished, I was then reassigned to reclaim another portion of the old trail where we broke up the old tread with pulaskis and then covered it with leaves that had fallen from nearby maple trees, moss, and sticks. We also transplanted huckleberry bushes, cedar saplings, and ferns. By the time we were finished, we had a beautiful bench cut trail and you had to look hard to find where the old trail once was. It was pretty gratifying!
I’ll be coming to a trail building day soon! (You’ve been warned Chris and Jef…)
Paul Elphik from the River City Cycle Club caught the day on video (I make a brief appearance at 3:34). I can’t wait to go back and ride it…
An informative course on singletrack trail building and maintenance given by Chad and Deanne of IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) Canada in Campbell River.
A large group of volunteers turned up on a dark, stormy day to reroute a section of trail. The old section was given a helping hand in ‘returning to nature’, and is already almost completely invisible.
Death in Vegas: Dirt
If you would like more information on what we learned, please visit the IMBA Canada website. They have lots of great resources . They also have a blog that is worth checking out as well.