A little background, this season marks the first of our agreement with the local FS district to go out and do trail work on our own without FS supervision. It’s a big deal and in the making for almost ten years now. We named ourselves the Flagstaff Trail Faeries, I put together the bucking unicorn with the trail faerie riding graphic for our group.
Here's a question for you experienced trail builders. Over the few years I've been mapping, in my head, simple MTB trails through various parts of our property. It is reasonably open hardwood forest with small rock outcrops here and there, plus we are at at the top of a low ridge, so there is going to be some up and down.
The section I was pondering today would be quite fun, there is a long granite ridge angling downhill, then you would turn and climb back uphill through the woods. I would want the trail to be rideable in either direction, so my question is this: when laying out the route with switchbacks on the hill, should the trail be designed first and foremost for the uphill rider? My gut says yes, since the resulting downhill run would be gentle, fast and flowy. It would also seem the best layout to avoid erosion issues. What say you?
We are not talking mountains here, BTW, this part would be about a 60 foot elevation gain/loss over a moderate incline. We are also talking about riders of advancing age and diminishing fitness!
Yeah you want to keep it somewhere around a 5% grade. The key to trail building or the number one goal is to get water off your tread. So you generally want a bench cut across a slope that at least twice the grade of your trail and incorporate grade reversals or dips every so often so the water doesn’t run very far along your trail. Here on Elden I like to see a reversal every 20 feet or so. This all varies on the soil at any location.
Stay away from going straight along ridges or gully bottoms. If you like steeps try to use large slabs of rock or you can get into rock armoring. I’ll post some armoring projects that we are doing right now soon.
We are kicking off a long anticipated project this coming National Trails Day (first weekend in June) that I’ve been working on for the last two years putting together the routing on. The goal is to replace some terribly routed trails on an overlooked area on Mount Elden. In the end it should look something like this.
The red is the new Heart Trail and the yellow is the planned reroute for that section of the Little Elden Trail. It’s 8 miles of new trail and the Heart is about 4.5 miles of descending over 1500 vertical feet but starts after another mile or so of descending from the top of the Sunset Trail. Once it connects to Little Elden there should be another mile plus of mixed descending and low angle xc stuff. It’s gonna be a ripper! It also goes through some very unique geology as that side of Elden lifted and exposed several different sedimentary layers. There’s at least a mile and a half section of super cool red rock just like Sedona. The area burned in 1978 or 9 so the views are incredible and oak has mostly replaced the ponderosa.