The Dirt On Trail Work

The majority of work performed by CCCMB volunteers over the past 20 years has focused on trail maintenance, not trail building. Maintaining existing trails will always be more immediately important than constructing new trail.  With our local trails, maintenance has usually meant rebuilding and rebuilding (and rebuilding...) drainage systems on trails that were poorly constructed from the start, especially those created by livestock. 

To help promote and enhance the sustainability of local trails,

  • Understand the concept of the rolling drain dip (RDD) and the techniques for proper trimming of trail brush by reviewing the Core Trail Work Skills and Concepts listed to the right.
  • Arrive on time and be sure you set off with the proper tools for a fun, safe trail work event. These tools generally include sturdy footwear, gloves, water, and sunscreen as well as a shovel, a McLeod, and pruners of some sort (e.g., hand pruner, lopper, or folding saw).  CCCMB trail crew leaders generally bring the tools, but if you have a favorite trimmer or shovel, bring it along.
  • You can't be a cow. Unless you're a cow with opposable thumbs, in which case you can carry all our stuff and do trail work.
Not the ideal candidate for building and maintaining trails
photo by R. Duchak

Getting Sweet Singletrack on the Ground 

video with Joey Klein (

This video captures the feeling that trail designers have as they walk through the underbrush while determining the path it will take in the flagging stage of trail building. As a person with extensive professional mountain bike experience, Joey Klein takes a different approach to building trail than we do with CCCMB. He works alone during the design phase while CCCMB always works with a team. We believe that deliberation, discussion, and good planning with a solid team generally result in successful, low-maintenance trails.  

Let us know if you'd like to be involved with CCCMB as we design new trails in SLO County.

New Links for Trail Crew Training Class #1 & #2

Listed below are several new links to videos about trail building techniques.  They are meant for training of Trail Crew Leaders.  Enjoy!



Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook 

This 2007 document, produced by the Technology & Development Program of the U.S. Forest Service reflects the latest thinking about constructing and maintaining trails but focuses on foundational skills needed to perform effective trail maintenance.

Pacific Crest Trail Association Trails Skills College Course Curriculum

This curriculum was written for volunteer and agency insructors to train new PCT trail volunteers. As such, it aims to provide a shared perspective, vocabulary, and approach to working on the PCT.

IMBA-USFS-Building Mountain Bike Trails YouTube Videos to supplement Trail Solutions: IMBA's Guild to Building Sweet Singletrack

Trail work skills are best learned by working side-by-side with a person very experienced in trail maintenance.  CCCMB has many such folks who are willing to share their time and knowledge.  If you are interested in learning how to do effective and essential trail maintenance, please contact any of the crew leaders on the Regional Trail Crew CONTACT PAGE.

Core Trail Work Skills and Concepts

Advanced Trail Work Skills and Concepts

California State Parks Trail Manager's Toolbox
This Toolbox includes resources that trail and open space managers can use to develop and improve their local trail program to better serve their users and the community at large.

Sustainable trail building Report (835K, pdf) and Presentation (6511K, pdf) by Justin Maytum under the guidance of knowledgeable members of the Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers organization during the Cal Poly Spring Quarter 2012. A brief description of some of the most pertinent trail design principals and construction techniques are given, including the importance of proper drainage and trail grade and the consequences to trails lacking these essential design elements.