Cut a Mountain-Bike Trail

Sep 6, 2011
Outside Magazine
Trail Building

Sculpting a mountain-bike trail.    Photo: Courtney Nash/Flickr

1. Know who uses your local park, and build a consensus about the need for trails. Then connect with the parks-and-rec department. "Don't go in there expecting them to hand you the keys," says Dawson Smith, cofounder of the New York City Mountain Bike Association, which promoted the Fort George Hill Trails at Highbridge Park in Manhattan.

2. Prove you have the manpower to build and maintain the trails. Secure funding with a Recreation Trails Grant, given out by the Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration. Contact your state's recreational-trails administrator for guidance.

3. Connect with Trail Solutions, the International Mountain Bicycling Association's consulting program. It knows how to make the best trails, and, equally important, its support tells park managers you mean business.

4. Once your trail is cut, cultivate a volunteer army and hold events to increase use. Since Highbridge opened, NYCMTB has held numerous races, including Hustle and Flow, which combined downhill, mountain bike, and BMX.