How to help a Trail Builder

Here on the North Shore, we’re very lucky to have world renowned mountain bike trails in our backyard, and even luckier to have dedicated trail builders that put their sweat and soul into caring for them. With 315 trails covering 253 km, that’s a lot of work to maintain – whether it’s clearing drains, topping up the trail bed with gold, re-routing to create a more sustainable line, or re-building rotting woodwork.

Many of the trails have active builders who work year round to keep the trail healthy – including those like Digger tirelessly sculpting dirt on one of his original creations or small teams that have adopted a neglected trail and brought it back to life. Permitting systems are in place for builders working on land managed by the District of North Vancouver (DNV) and Metro Vancouver.

Trail building is back-breaking labour, and most builders are happy to accept offers of help. If you see your favourite builder hard at work while out on a ride, taking a quick stop on your ride to dig a few buckets of gold or help maneuver a large rock into place will be sure to put a smile on his or her face.

Each trail is a work of art, the builder’s vision of singletrack twisting through the forest, carefully crafted by hand. Recently, several trails with active builders have seen unauthorized trail work by others. While well-intentioned, these efforts often cause more harm than good. If the work is poorly done, it creates more work for the trail builder. Putting gold dirt on top of a mud hole without digging out the mud doesn’t solve the original drainage problem, and the spot will still be a mucky mess when the rains come. Leaving gold holes adjacent to the trail is not only unsightly but reflects poor environmental stewardship. They pose risks to wildlife and provide fodder for those who would like to see mountain biking banned from our local mountains. The builder then must spend extra time – digging out not only the organic soil but now the gold, and then closing the gold hole and naturalizing the trailside. Not to mention, sub-standard work also reflects poorly on the trail builder.

We love the enthusiasm shown for helping out, and thank all those with a passion for caring for our trail network. If you’re looking to get dirty and put some love back into the trails, join us for an NSMBA public trail day, take the Trail Builder’s Academy and join the Shore Corps, or contact the NSMBA directly and we can put you in touch with builders that are looking for help on various projects. Or if you simply love the new work on your favourite shore trail and want to say thank you to the builder, check out Trailforks to find out who maintains it and share your appreciation (e.g. http://www.trailforks.com/trails/ladies-only/)

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