How To Find Mountain Bike Trails – Not Listed On Major Websites

There can be any number of reasons why you might want to find a trail that is not listed on any website that you can find. Sometimes this can be because of the fact that you can’t seem to find any trails near you, but at other times I might be because you like to avoid crowds and prefer the idea of being the only one on a trail.

Local Guides

However, there are some cases where you might go to another country, in which case the trails might not be listed at all no matter how har you look for them. In this case there are often local guides who know the trails inside out in that area.

Sometimes these people are willing to tell you about the trails and which ones you might like, however other times these guides make their living by showing people around on the trails and so might be less inclined to tell you about the best ones.

Hiring a guide and asking them to take you around on the less used trails is a great idea though, and it is something that you could easily do the first time in order to go back on the trails yourself at a later date if you really liked them.

Having a guide that knows the trail the firs trip will be a huge help since they will not only be able to point out to you things on the trail that you would need to watch out for and the best places to stop and catch your breath, but guides can also tell you interesting facts about the area as you ride through it and point out important landmarks.

If you tell your guide that you are interested in hearing some stories, someone who has been a guide for a while is sure to know at least a few stories about other people who have ridden the same trails and some of the things that have happened during other guided tours of the trail.

These can not only be very interesting to hear about sometimes, but they can also serve as a warning if the story was that they were not paying attention in a slightly dangerous part of the trail and so they got hurt because of it.

Local Bike Clubs And Bike Shops

It is not always easy finding new mountain bike trails, even when you know that they are there somewhere and sometimes you may not want to pay for a guide for one reason or another. In such a scenario, you should look up and try to contact any local bike clubs in the area you are looking for trails at and also visit or call local bike shops as well.

These are going to be the people who have experience with exploring all of the trails that are in their area. If you are having a hard time finding a local bike club, then you can try to ask the bike shop since the people who work there probably know what clubs might be in the area even if they are not a part of the club themselves.

Other ways of finding a bike group is looking on social media, or maybe you can find them using an online forum. Most places that have trails or a trail system have a good local bike club that does the maintenance work on the trail, as well as plans the events near the trails.

Once you get into contact with them, you can ask them what the trails are like in their area and if there are any trails that most people don’t know about and that are not listed on any major sites. If you live somewhere else and are just planning on riding some of the trails while you are passing through, then you should start trying to get in touch with them at least a few weeks before you plan of going there.

Some people are busy and it may take them a while to get back with you either by phone or email, so be patient and in the meantime you can write down a list of things that you want to know and have it handy so that when they do get back with you everything is ready and you don’t forget anything you wanted to ask.

On the other hand, if you are simply looking for trails near your own home that are not listed on any major website, then this process becomes a little easier. You can drop by your local bike shop in person instead of making a phone call and you can also arrange to talk in person with someone from your local bike club.

Even better, you can meet with the club and all of the members that are a part of it. This is something that will increase your chances of hearing about the kind of trail that you are looking for since not everyone who is a member of the club will know about the hard to find trails and how to get to them.

The people at your local bike club or bike shop definitely know what’s going on in terms of new trails in the area, as well as hidden trails, or unmarked trails, and even unmapped trails, since they are the ones who are probably building them.

They will be able to tell you which trails are legal for you to ride on and which ones are not. They will also be able to let you know if you need permission to ride on the trail or if you can just ride on it. Even if they are not building these trails, they will at least know who is building them.

Get into their good graces and participate in any events that they. During these events you will have the opportunity to meet people who know a great deal about trails and they could lead you to new trails that others don’t know about.

Build Your Own Trail

Sometimes you will find if you live long enough in one area, especially if that one area is near a big city or a popular destination, that there are not really any trails the no one knows about. In this case the only real solution is to build a trail yourself or to get with a few friends in order to build one together.

Get Some Experience

The first thing that you are going to want to do if you are thinking about building your own trail is to search out bike clubs or bike shops and ask them who does trail work and if can you volunteer to join. After you have joined, start working hard at the club or the shop.

It doesn’t matter at this point if you don’t know anything about building a trail. The team that you will be working with will surely be happy that you have decided to join them. They probably have some tools for you to use so that you can start working on the trails, and if not you should ask them what tools you should bring.

Since these are the tools that you are going to need later on, you should buy those tools and make sure that they are of good quality. Work days when the trails are being fixed or updated are often quite the event, with there frequently being BBQs and other things after the work is done for the workers to chat and hang out together.

Find A Location

The next thing you want to do is to find a good location to build yourself a mountain biking trail. This is actually especially difficult if you live in a city, but if you live in the mountains or some kind of wooded area with at least a few acres of space, then you shouldn’t have much of a problem.

Once you have found on area that you think would make a good spot for a trail, make sure to get permission from the owner of the land that you want to build your trail on. Even if that land is public land you still have to have permission.

If you need to do more research on the area, you can get a bird’s-eye view of the area that you want to build a trail on using Google’s satellite capabilities. Doing this online and marking the best looking areas after printing a map will allow you to choose an area easier and find out whose permission you will have to ask for.

Decide on what kind of things you want to include in your trail and if it will be a trail that you will want to share with other people. Keep in mind that unless you are going to be building the whole trail and maintaining it by yourself then you are going to want at least a few other people to build it with you and that they should have some say in what the trail is like too.

Think of what obstacles that you would like in there to challenge your ability as a mountain biker, like branches, rocks, and some other types of debris that will prompt you to swivel and carefully bunny hop over things as you ride through the trail.

Walk out the area you have to work with and find a good location where you can implement these ideas. Bring a notepad and pen with you as you do this so you can start sketching as you walk around the area and note down the good places to include these different types of obstacles.

You also want to start taking notes of what areas are good to include in your trail and which areas are not so good to include in your trail. You will need to list the types of things that will have to be removed from the trail in order to make it safer to use.

You might have to cut a few bushes or small trees in order for the trail to work. A good rule of thumb is to make the trail wide enough for you to fit through it in order for it to be the right width to make a good singletrack trail

Sketch, Mark, And Outline Your Trail

After you have done your recon in the area and you have a good idea of what your plan is, sketch out a map on your notepad of the trail you plan to build. Walk through and mark certain areas with tape, or perhaps even mark the entire length of the course with tape.

If there already seems to be a sort of trail in some places then you may not need to mark them, just make sure to mark the areas that you may forget or parts of the trail that match the sketch on your map.

Walk through the outline of your trail and carefully go through it, constantly assessing whether you can make it through certain parts of the trail on a mountain bike. Certain turns might be too sharp and you may have to adjust them, or there might be a cliff in certain parts which could prove to be too large of a drop-off and will have to be avoided or modified in order to make it more suitable as part of the trail.

Build It

Once you have done all of this, it is time grab your tools and bring them to the site so you can start building your trail. You are probably going to need a shovel, handsaw, a scythe to clear things out, and clippers to make the trail more visible after by clearing some leaves out.

You can either keep working at it all by yourself, or you can do a rough outline of the trail and then recruit some friends or your bike club in order to help you. Once you have cleared things out, you then get to try out your trail and review the most difficult parts of the trail to see if you need to modify anything.

If you have some friends with you, they can help you move things around and clear out areas to make the trail more accessible and easy to use. Once you have thinned down the area and reduced the trail to just dirt and small grass, now try to establish strong corners or areas that you believe will erode over time due to the weather.

Make sure that there is a slant to your trail to provide a runoff for any water when it rains. When you are digging out the trail it can be helpful to start at the highest point and then work your way down to the lowest point, removing dirt as you go along.

A smart way of doing this in order to level out your trail even further is to dig out portions of the higher sections of your trail and place them in the lower sections of the trail. Place trenches or logs near the corners so that the water properly runs off and does not wreak havoc on the corners. You might need a wheelbarrow or some type of cart or pickup truck to help you move any extra dirt you have to areas where you can make roller sections, high jumps, or even berms.

Add Some Interesting Elements To It

Adding berms and bridges will allow your trail to be a little bit like an obstacle course. Bridges are especially fun to add, because they allow you to access areas that may not have been accessible if the bridge was there.

And adding berms and jumps allows a mountain biker to scale new heights and also provides access to new areas of the trail. You can add other things to help support these platforming type terrains by implementing logs and concrete blocks.

Maintain It

Once your trail is built, you will then have to maintain that trail. Anytime a problem or some kind of damage is seen on the trail, make sure to go out to the trail and take care of the problem as soon as possible to prevent it from getting worse.

Any puddles or any excess water should be drained away from the main portions of the trail. Make sure you have a proper runoff system to collect all the water and distribute it elsewhere away from the trail. You should also make sure your wooden bridges or blocks stay stable and are rugged enough to handle any bad weather.

Anything that you are not able to immediately fix but you know is an immediate danger you should block off or put up a sign letting riders know not to use that specific portion of the trail. If you are through with the trail and you don’t want to use it anymore or no one in your Club wants to use it anymore, you no longer have to maintain it anymore and you can just let the grass grow back again.

Mike Rausa

I'm a 42 year old married father of 3 that fell in love with mountain biking late in life. Mountain biking quickly became my go to fitness activity. I created this blog to help beginners to advanced riders with tips and strategies to improve your riding experience. More About Me...

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