Starting a trail in a State Park...HELP- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Starting a trail in a State Park...HELP

    Alright guys......I need some help. I have a group of guys that are tired of driving 2+ hours to a decent trail, when we have a state resort park right in our back yard.

    We've looked over some maps around the lake area and there are plenty of opportunites.

    Now before I start emailing, banging on doors, and taking names.....does anyone have some advise on getting started.
    We're not looking for the next NORBA national, just a well managed location that we can develop and call our own.

    Any advice, points in the right direction, or prayers would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!

  2. #2
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    great news!

    building a trail anywhere is exciting.

    A very simplified list.
    If you don't have it, first get permission to build the trail.
    layout a route. have just a few guys review it, more than one set of eyes often results in a better route choice. consider trail access points and parking in your route choice.

    organize a day to start digging. the hardest part is often placing the first flag...where to start the trail.

    check out the imba web site for trail building tips.

  3. #3
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    Talk with the land manager first and foremost... They may already have a party line on what can or cannot be done. You may not be the first to ask!

    If they respond negatively then see if you can find out the specific reasons why - is it policy, or did the land manager have a recent run-in with someone illegally building trails just last week??!! If it's pollicy then you may need to go to the next level of management to try and get it changed.

    Also - involve as many local mountain bike organizations as possible - there is power in numbers!

    Just a few thought...

  4. #4
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    My first suggestion would be order and read the two IMBA trail books, Trail Solutions and Managing Mountain Biking. For the money, they are the best books out there about how to work with land managers to build mountain bike trails.

    You didn't say why the park is not already suitable for mountain bikes. No trails? (Hard to imagine.) Ban against mountain bikes? (Then you have a different problem.) Or trails but none really suitable for mountain biking? (Unfortunately too common.) If there are already trails but none suitable for moutain biking, consider approaching the land manager about performing maintenance on the existing trail network. Solving the land manager's problems with his existing trails (lack of money to maintain trails and people giving him grief about it) will make him more open to new trails and prove you are willing to put some sweat equity into your new trail ambitions.

  5. #5
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    Plan for everything

    Form a plan for how you will work WITH the land manager.

    Study policies of the land manager to see if your proposed trails will meet any policy/mission needs. Study all laws & policies pertaining to the state land you will be dealing with. It is a pain in the rear, but in the long run it will prevent lots of hassles for you and everyone else involved

    Make your proposed project visibile. That is, if the agency the land manager works for is run by a Board, have MTBers contact the Board regarding how they would like to see more trails in your area. The more calls that Board receives. The more "visible" the need for your project will be.

    Plan for the possibility of modification of your proposed trail. Be willing to compromise.

    Gather financial backers before you meet with the land manager. The less impact you have on their budget the better.

    Gather community support. Get volunteer involvement. Develop lists of names, phone numbers, and address of everyone you know will to commit to the project. Again, this proves to the land manager that your project is "needed", and also proves that volunteer resources are available, if the work is to be performed by volunteers.

    If possible, form a partnership with the land managers. (The partnership I am a part of is listed as one of the "good" examples in the IMBA Trail Solutions book.)

    Lastly, don't get frustrated. Never give up. We didn't and now we have nearly 50 miles of singletrack...and we just keep building more. Our trails go from state lands to USFS lands and through a ski resort.

    Al
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  6. #6
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    EXCELLENT !!!!!!!
    Thanks for all the insight fellas.....I'll keep you up to date on the progress.

  7. #7
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    Sometimes knowing someone on the inside helps. My girlfriend's boss is a leader in the Florida Trail Association. I had approached him about a once a year use of their trail for a long epic ride in the local state forest. He didn't hesitate to say no. But he did tell me that the state forest managers were looking for other users other than hunters and garbage dumping rednecks. He had worked for the forestry department and he gave me the names of the people that I should contact. So far we have a good relationship, even though we haven't cut the first trail yet. They are as excited as we are about having a bike trail.
    Sometimes the land managers don't really want you on their land and there's not much you can do to change their mind. The local water management people sort of fall into that category for us. They are much more interested in helping hunters since they get a lot of there support from the fish and wildlife group. Fortunately for us the state forest has ten times the available acreage.
    Also, be patient. We've been at this a year and we are just now getting ready to cut trail. We had to go through a whole environmental and ecological survey of the parcel after we had gone through and flagged our corridor. Old erosion problems and a threatened species of tortoise seriously rerouted our layout. We were lucky enough to be able to lay out new routes on the computer and gps and get back out to reflag the corridor.
    And try to present yourselves as professional. You don't have to wear a suit when meeting these people but at least show up looking nice. Don't pull a Floyd Landis and have your hat on backwards when your pleading for your life! I think we showed up in our club t-shirts which looking back on it maybe wasn't a great idea.
    I've got a blog of the whole process we went through. I'm sure we have made a lot of mistakes but we have learned a lot in the process. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    Megashnauzer......

    Thanks for taking the time to share your story....Like all that have replied, I will take your words to heart in hopes that a lot can be learned and accomplished.

    I'll keep you posted........

  9. #9
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    My guess is that these are the people you need to start with...KyMBA

  10. #10
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    We've made a lot a progress with trail building in our local state park by also being heavily involved w/ the Friends group. The park likes to see that we're not a single-minded group, although our focus tends to be in mountain biking.

    You'll have to research your individual state park guidelines and know the approval process as well. You'll need to match your trail-building skill w/ your relationship-building as well.

    good luck!
    future nature

  11. #11
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    Some ideas

    Quote Originally Posted by cyfer1
    Alright guys......I need some help. I have a group of guys that are tired of driving 2+ hours to a decent trail, when we have a state resort park right in our back yard.

    We've looked over some maps around the lake area and there are plenty of opportunites.

    Now before I start emailing, banging on doors, and taking names.....does anyone have some advise on getting started.
    We're not looking for the next NORBA national, just a well managed location that we can develop and call our own.

    Any advice, points in the right direction, or prayers would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!
    As others have pointed out, study the guides available from IMBA. The concept of trail sustainability is worthwhile in its own right, but the reason that so many people are following the guidelines is that sustainable trails are also low maintenance. I'd rather spend my time building new trail or riding rather than fixing problems.

    Not sure if they cover this point, but be sure you look at your flagline in the spring when it's wet before you build, even if it costs you a season. I'm currently faced with rerouting a half mile section of trail because we flagged and built it one fall only to find in the spring that we have seeps uphill of the trail that leak water into June.

    Depending on how hikers and bikers get along in your area, you might want to promote your trail to the park management as multi user. Sharing with equestrians or moto-sport riders is not a good idea though. Our trail have been adopted by snowshoers which has the added benefit to the park of keeping them off of the groomed ski trails.

    Another possible selling point is that your club will (probably) want to maintain the trails. It's almost easier to assemble a group of people to build a trail than to keep after the ongoing maintenance. Is there at least one person in your group who will take the responsibility to act as a continuing liason with the park management? Someone in your group hould make it a point to keep in contact in order to keep on top of complaints. This could prove vital if there is user conflict. At least one person has to be willing to do maintenance on days when he could be riding. It's much better to make this a shared responsibility to avoid volunteer burnout.

    If the trail passes through a weedy area someone has to buy a weedwhacker and use it. If there are many trees, who is going to cut the inevitable dead fall?. Ask ahead who will be responsible. If it's your club, find out what the requirements are, potentially someone has to get trained. Then the money has to be found for the course, the saw, and personal protective equipment. In our case, the park Friends group has paid for chainsaw safety training, the saw, related equipment, and training. I was required to purchase my own cut resistant boots.

    Finally, be honest with yourself about how much time you are willing to committ to the project. Doing the job right is demanding. How are you going to feel about it when you are out there working when it seems like the rest of the world is riding? My club has adopted an informal rule that new trail construction ceases after Trails Day, the first weekend in June. It's important to avoid burnout for your own sake, but it's also difficult to get other riders interested if you are feeling resentment. Make sure everyone understands that harassing or inflicting (too much) guilt on trail users is a bad idea. Learn to live with the fact that you will get maybe one in fifty potential users of your trail to contribute. And that the other 49 will promise to help, but never show up.

    Walt

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    49 will promise to help, but never show up
    You know, for me this has been the most frustrating part of volunteering...

    We post an announcement for a trail day, and right underneath someone posts an announcement for a ride that exact same time and place!

    While working on the trail, everyone rides by and thanks us... You want to say "Thanks for stopping to help for even 15 minutes - NOT!"

    I've gotten over it, but it sure says alot about people.

  13. #13
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    Agreed

    Quote Originally Posted by fishbum
    You know, for me this has been the most frustrating part of volunteering...

    We post an announcement for a trail day, and right underneath someone posts an announcement for a ride that exact same time and place!

    While working on the trail, everyone rides by and thanks us... You want to say "Thanks for stopping to help for even 15 minutes - NOT!"

    I've gotten over it, but it sure says alot about people.
    The ride posting thing annoys me too. I had some words with a member of our group who did that to me this year. He honestly didn't see my posting, and we settled things peacefully. I have since requested all group members refrain from ride posting during the "official" trail work season, April through the 1st weekend in June around here. (Bike Expeditions to other areas are OK to post anytime) In your shoes I would call the person sponsoring the ride and ask them respectfully to reschedule. OTH you can't claim priority during the main part of the riding season.

    I differ with you on the issue of people saying "Thanks (but I'm going to continue riding)". I make it a rule to not stop my pleasure rides to do maintenance. I'm either on the trail to ride or to work and I try to keep the two separate. Otherwise I'm stopping every few minutes to kick some branches off the trail. I try to give the same privilege to other riders. And really, how much use is someone in bike shoes and shorts?

    Instead I just say "Enjoy your ride!" in response. If the rider wants to stop and talk the odds are much greater that they actually have some interest in getting involved and it's worth my time to chat for a few minutes.

    Two recent exceptions: Last fall I finally got some time to get out and cut dead fall off the main trail after spending the climatic 2-weeks of cutting a new 4 mile trail with our rented Ditch-Witch. This came after almost a year of planning, flagging, getting approval, submitting funding proposals and many hot summer days in protective gear lugging a chain saw to clear the trail corridor.

    A rider wanted to get by me, so I stopped the saw to let him pass. He stopped and remarked "Say, I was wondering about the trail maintenance here, it seems like it's really gone downhill this year." Did I mention that this was the day after a heavy rain, and the bike this guy was on was covered in mud? What could I really say to such a person? I told him that a lot of our problems were due to people refusing to stay off the trail when it was wet and let it go at that. I've run trail work days in this park for 3 years and I never saw this person before but I guess that paying his $15 entitles him to some whining.

    This spring I was out working on the very wet trail and two women riders came by and asked me something. I told them politely that the trail was closed and they really should not be on it. One of them said "You don't have to yell!", which perhaps to her meant to show anything less than complete delight in her presence. Yah I was a little annoyed, and I probably let it show.

    The second one asked how they were supposed to know that the trails were closed. I told her respectfully that there was a large red sign at the park entrance that said "Mountain Bike Trails Closed". They never saw it.

    I got the park manager to string yellow warning tape over the trail head entrance until the worst of the rain was over to help the visually impaired. I still see cars at the trail head the day after a big rain though.

    I try to ignore the idiots as much as possible unless they insist on talking to me. As much as possible I try to show the general public a positive attitude. I do believe it's part of my responsibilities. I try to remember that nobody owes me their time, and I'm out there because I want to be.

    Walt

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    I still see cars at the trail head the day after a big rain though.
    At our local state park they also close the singletrack during/after a heavy rain... If the Ranger sees people in the parking lot gearing up to ride he speaks to them and reminds them the trails are closed... So these same people leave the park, drive down the street and park at the local church, then ride back up the road and enter the singletracks. Morons.

    So not only are they damaging the trails but they are also jeopardizing the local community relationships by parking in private lots. I don't get it.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishbum
    At our local state park they also close the singletrack during/after a heavy rain... If the Ranger sees people in the parking lot gearing up to ride he speaks to them and reminds them the trails are closed... So these same people leave the park, drive down the street and park at the local church, then ride back up the road and enter the singletracks. Morons.

    So not only are they damaging the trails but they are also jeopardizing the local community relationships by parking in private lots. I don't get it.
    Wow! And I thought that only happened here in PR. I'm glad to see there are retards in other parts of the states too
    This space for rent

  16. #16
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    I would contact the park rangers at Lake Norman State Park in Troutman, NC. You can google it and get their number. We've recently completed the third phase of trails bringing the total to almost 13 miles! In a NC State Park! Which is the first of it's kind in the state. But be forewarned...you will need more patience than you ever thought you had. It can be a lengthy process. But there is power in numbers so rally the troops!

    Mark
    The Cycle Path
    "Put Your Bike on the Path"

    Cornelius, NC 28031

  17. #17

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    long haul

    be prepared for things to move at the speed of mud. Nothing moves slower than the speed of government (on any level). Even if you have an excited land manager things wont happen in days or weeks it will take months, perhaps a year from planning, tentative approval, walkthroughs, final approval, to finally putting down the first shovel. Then plan on a lengthy build time b/c you will have waaaaaay less help than you think you will. Depending on the length of trail you have and the difficulty of your terrain you could be looking at 2 to 3 years of planning and building.

    I just recently finished up work on a 2.5 mile section of trail that took 5 years from conception to completion. Not exactly text book but the trails arent your everyday XC. (lots of glacial deposit to work with) a rake and ride trail would have taken 2 years to complete when taking all the steps into consideration.

    good luck.

  18. #18
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    Thanks for the input Def....much appreciated.

  19. #19

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    We built four trails in a local park here. The key to getting permission was to include other user groups and to form a Friends of Park group. Also, helping out the land manager. For instance, there was no money in the budget for maps, and we found donations from a road club and a local mt. bike club to print maps. I also had the IMBA trail care crew come for a visit, and while I had been to the workshop before, the best part was getting out there with the crew to do the design work--- boy did I learn a bunch! So good luck!

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