Off-Road Developers!

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Published on: May. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 29, 2010

and build more than 20 miles of new trails and maintain and improve more than 50 miles of existing trails for federal, state, local and private agencies. Their work has helped to expand mountain biking opportunities in the greater St. Louis area.

GORC is affiliated with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), a nonprofit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide. IMBA encourages low-impact riding, volunteer trail-work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, grass-roots advocacy, and innovative trail management solutions.

Several of the GORC members have attended professional training programs taught by IMBA to learn more about multi-use trail design and building techniques. GORC members also offer a one-day trail-building class to teach land managers new trail-building techniques.

Building a New Trail

Repairs on the Lost Valley Trail involved routing three new trails around heavily damaged sections. The new trails had to be designed to dry out quickly so muddy spots would not develop from the heavy amount of foot traffic and bike use. One of the new trails even involved building a small footbridge to cross a wet-weather drainage.

The project took place in two phases. The first phase was a section of trail just over a mile long that was built in early 2004. The second phase consisted of two new trails totaling almost a mile in length that were finished in Spring 2005.

Designing and building the new trails started with survey work to determine the best routes. The routes needed to be scenic, yet require minimum future maintenance.

Most of the trail building took place during eight workdays. An average of 25 volunteers showed up each of those days to work on the trail. By the time the project was completed, the volunteers had worked more than 1,000 hours.

Because the terrain at Weldon Spring CA is often too steep and rocky for motorized equipment, the volunteers built the new trails entirely with hand tools. First, they cut the trail corridors, using handsaws and loppers to remove small saplings and tree branches. Next, they “grubbed” out the new trail, bench-cutting it into the hillsides, using Pulaskis, McLeods, and pick-axes to move dirt. Their goal was to create a trail surface, or “tread,” with enough slope to let water drain off while still providing a stable walking and riding surface. After they smoothed its surface, the trail was ready for use.

The Results

The trail improvements have

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