Need ideas for trail building
Hi, our local club has been working with our city's park department on developing 4-5 miles of singletrack throughout an unused park in town. We have their support but we need to draw up a plan and layout of the trail to show the city and neighborhood to get final approval. The question I have is they are a little skeptical of letting a volunteer group build this trail system. This will be our first complete, (legal) trail we will build and we are getting help from MORC, minnesota off road cyclists to design and flag the trail, we will be attending some IMBA classes, and we have an arrangement with ditch witch for a machine. We are kinda new to this and would love some outside opinions. Also, for the neighborhood approval, I was wondering if anyone has any information on the affects nearby trails have on real estate values. If they find out their home values will go up, it will help with the approval process. By the way, our town has no MTBing within an hour of it and is a little behind the times, so getting this far is a huge step. Any ideas would be greatly appreiciated. Later.
Builder of Trails
That's a loaded request! I'll share some of what I know.
First, here's a link to an article on IMBA's web site that shows "land values rise in relation to its proximity to a trail system." It's in the third paragraph.
Also, draw up an MOU, Memorandum of Understanding, to describe what each entity wants and what each entity will provide. This one happens to have been written mostly by me for our local club and a private land owner. More examples can be found here toward the bottom of the page.
Also, before even tying a flag to a tree, meet with the land manager over a few maps to discuss the following things among others:
Parking & related trail head facilities
Positive control points
Negative control points (arch sites, etc.)
Ask if the volunteer coordinators/trail stewards need to carry a copy of the MOU with them in case they run into an uninformed park police or other law enforcement agent.
Don't forget to either have a trained operator run the machine or get some training before attempting to build trail with it. They are very capable of building trail quickly, as well as doing a lot of damage in a short amount of time. More about that can be found here.
Lastly, I realize that you've already established a relationship with the land manager, but you still might find some great tips here.
Thanks for the links, they will point us in the right direction. The city has been very supportive in turning a run down park(aka homeless camp) into something new. They have given us all the maps that we need and are being very helpful. Their big thing is they like to see contracts when dealing with something like this. That's where the MOU comes in. As far as building it, I myself am a licensed arborist and well trained with the ditch witch sk500 through work. It's nice to get some tips from others who have done this before. Thanks again.
Bring any other potential users (running club?) to the table to work up the master plan. Broad support always goes over well. Get a large topo map of your park and laminate it. Use perm. marker to design and use as visual aid. Nail polish and cotton ball will easily erase perm. marker. Identify the control points (wetland, arch sites, unique features that you want to avoid or incorporate in the trail) on the map, identify the access points used by public and potentially used by EMS/Police.
Understand what those topo lines mean, put a scale on your map. If your topo lines are 10' lines and 1 inch on the map = 100 feet (an example only), lay your trail out to cross no more than one topo line every inch (10% rule, buy the IMBA Trail book). Assuming your good with the 10%, cross the topo lines at no more than 45% (Half Rule). Plan for some changes once your on the ground.
Lay out your trails with EMS access points, in mind. Try to minimize distance/time to any given point. EMS and public access points may not match. Pick public access point to minimize traffic and parking concerns of area residents. Design trails with buffer in mind between trail and neighboring residents, and for night riding, design so that head lights don't intrude into neighboring residential uses.
Trail System Quick Wins
Sometimes the problem with a large trail system is you can do lots of work before anyone really gets to start using it (months sometimes years). I would instead suggest identifying some quick wins that would provide an immediate flavor of the benefits of the larger trail system and then bump those quick wins to the top of the priority list. For example, can you clear old abandoned roads or trails to bring them back into usage (assuming good initial design)? Is there a short connector trail you can build to link two popular out-and-back trails to form a loop? Can you build a short trail to get to what would become a popular destination with the day hikers like a hill summit or lake shore?
I would also suggest designing a stacked loop trail system. Wide, easy trails form the core of the stacked loop. Moderate trails form loops off the easy loops and then expert loops off the moderate loops. This has several positive benefits. The easy loop(s) go in first, providing a quick win and selling the local on the benefits of the new trails. Easy and moderate loops make maximum use of your power equipment up front, where it will do the most good, because expert trails often don't lend themselves to power equipment. The moderate loops filter the trail users before they reach your expert trails, helping decrease user conflicts.
Spend LOTS of time doing trail layout and creating your flag lines. You should visit each new trail layout half a dozen times (at different times of the days) and walk the corridor or flag lines several times on each visit. Get many eyes to look at the new trail layout, to spot things you missed. Do some initial corridor clearing to make sure your flags are in the right spot and then run the flag lines to try to get a feel for the trail flow. For every extra hour spent on trail layout you will get a thousand fold return in better quality and easier to maintain trail.
Thanks for the tips, I'll bring alot of these up at our next meeting.