Trail Design Specialists

We are dedicated to assisting in the development of multi-use trails.

Build it right once, and use it forever!

    Design tips and drawings:

  • Benching - How to article by Jan and Mike. Benching is the technique used to cut trail into slopes.
  • Break away Bridge - This is a bridge design that is made to break away in flood conditons. This prevents rebuilding, and only has to be put back where it belongs.
  • Check Dams
  • Climbing Turn - Where you need to turn a trail, and grades are not too steep, a climbing turn can be used. Drawing and specs.
  • Rolling Crown Switchback - When the trail needs to turn, and the grade is steep, a rolling crown switchback is in order.
  • Contour Boardwalk - Raised boardwalk for wet areas.
  • Correct Trail Closure techniques - When you reroute, or just close a section of bad trail, here is what we suggest.
  • De-berming - Water is your opponent. Berms keep the water from exiting your trail.
  • Grade Dips - Designing a trail to use grade dips for controlling speed and water.
  • Rolling Grade Dip - Water bars are out. Rolling grade dips are in!

    Recent Work

    24 Hours Of Adreneline
    Mike and the Great folks of the Atlanta Chapter of SORBA did some incredible work on the Olympic Race Course in Conyers. The course was not built with sustainability in mind, so it required lot's of maintenance over the years.

    Mike and his crew did some great work prepring the course for the October 24 Hrs. of Adrenline. Not only did the course hold up to the thousands of laps that were put in on it that weekend, but it will be much less of a headache in the future. Mike also added in a bunch more slickrock which added 2 more difficult climbs and some un-nerving off-camber descents.

    The course was a blast! Thanks Mike! (Ed.)

    Fat Tire Times:

    The Fat Tire Times is the SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association) monthly magazine. Mike writes a column on Trail Building and Maintenance.

    Nov. 2002
    Trail Education
    I frequently get asked questions about creating trails here in the SE that mirror some of the trail experiences that are found at some of the favorite riding spots in the west. My answer is usually no. Now let me qualify that answer. Western trail building philosophy differs from the Eastern way through several fundamental differences. Elevation, soil types, average annual rainfall amounts, location and population densities all play an important role in how we build our trails. Out of all these differences, location and population densities play the most important role. There are simply more people in the East than in the West - especially in regards to local trail proximity. Sure there are exceptions. Some of Southern California and Arizona’s trails are pushing the limits of overuse, but strangely enough their designs end up similar to those found here. The experience found on most of the more popular trails in the Rocky mountain states offer solitude, incredible long-range views and trail features that would cause most land managers to toss in their sleep. How many times have you heard friends returning from a Western trail vacation say “it was great! We had the trail all to ourselves!” If you’ve been there you may have said it yourself. Now think about how many times that has happened here and I think you will see my point. We just have more people here. The trails in those Western Mecca’s are sought out by people looking for the type of experience they have to offer. In return they also see less use and in the same respect suffer fewer impacts.
    If our trails were to follow the same design standards in a misguided attempt to recreate those experiences here they would deteriorate very quickly because use on them would be ten times as much as those they were emulating. These are known as user impacts. The other problem we have to deal with here is higher rainfall amounts. Rain has the nasty tendency to wash away materials loosened up by user impacts creating trenches and sand pits at the bottom of every hill. It also creates mud holes that seem to grow daily during periods of normal rainfall. We call this process natural impact. Bring the two together and it spells a recipe for disaster unless we adhere to a strict set of design criteria.
    These two types of impacts govern how our trails have to be designed and built in order to be maintainable over the long haul. And that my friends, is why we build trails the way we do. Besides, the East has some features that make them special in their own way, like trees that add a wonderful sense of adventure by always hiding what’s around the next corner. Streams that challenge your best riding skills and often reward you with a cool dunking when you fail to make the far bank. And of course there’s the people. Sure we don’t get too many rides that offer up that grand sense of solitude, but a little company on a great ride is really a usually a good thing.
    I am a big advocate of challenging trails. I also like to build trails that we can enjoy and not have to spend all our time maintaining. We can draw on the things that make our region unique and create trails that are both challenging and ultimately maintainable. If any of this has piqued your curiosity and you are interested in learning more, then you might want to sign up for the next round of trail classes.
    Happy trails!
    Mike Riter
    Trails Education Specialist

    Water always wins.
    The trick is to not let it play the game.


Email Jan and Mike!
(678) 410-8021

Trail Design Specialists © 1999

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