How to make your local mountain bike trails better
Your local mountain bike trails need help. They most likely have thousands of visitors every year, but are usually kept alive by a handful of dedicated volunteers with a shoestring budget and endless problems to solve.
If you want to make a difference and improve your local trails then it's time to harness your enthusiasm and take action.
Donate your time digging
Your best way to get involved is to find the local mountain bike club or trail stewardship that is authorized to do work on your local trails and find out if they have volunteer work days.
This is where you will learn that some clubs are more organized than others, and you will need to wade through Facebook Groups, Instagram posts and maybe even some Meetup.com events to get any concrete information. You're lucky if your local club has a website that is up to date (more on that later).
Once you find a "dig day" put it on your calendar, RSVP and be ready for some hard work. You'll need to dress smart, with very sturdy footwear, long pants, a long sleeve shirt, eye protection, gloves and maybe even a hard hat. Bring a backpack with plenty of water and some snacks as well.
Most clubs are happy to take volunteers that have zero experience doing trail maintenance. They will have tools ready for you to use and will give you some basic instruction. Just go with the flow and you'll catch on.
Volunteer dig days are a fantastic way to meet other locals that share your passion if you are just getting into mountain biking or new to the area. You can spend the day making new friends and getting info on the best rides in the area.
There's nothing more satisfying than working on a section of trail for a day and then riding the fruits of your labor a week later. Sometimes the fixes you put in place last for YEARS, and you'll always remember the time you spent playing on that section of dirt.
Donate your time organizing
Dig days are vital for keeping our trails alive and well, but the only way to legally create new trails and fix BIG problems with your local trails is to get involved with your local mountain bike club.
Getting involved with your club and then interacting with the entity (city government, etc.) that manages your local trails is a MARATHON, not a sprint. Bottle up all your ideas and energy and try to trickle them out as patiently as you possibly can, because real, lasting change takes years when you're trying to convince a government bureaucracy and fellow club members that you've got all the answers.
Mountain bike clubs need a lot of help from a lot of different skillsets that don't involve manual labor. Almost every single mountain bike club needs help with the basics: Creating a clean and clear website. Posting on social media about events. Crafting a compelling logo. Updating the status of trails.
Consider volunteering to become your club's cartographer and take over your Trailforks.com region to clean up all the little errors and make the maps of your local trails shine.
Donate your money
If you don't have time to donate, money always helps. One of the best ways to donate to your local club is through Trailforks.com. We all know Trailforks is a great way to keep track of your rides, look for new trails and comment when a trail needs fixing. But Trailforks is also a bit of a social network, so making a public donation will show up in other people's feeds and it will probably make them think about donating as well. There's also donation rankings, some people take a lot of pride in being the top donator for a region.
If your local club doesn't have a Trailforks donation setup, encourage them to do so. Getting your local club dialed in on Trailforks is well worth the effort, as the web traffic from people looking at trails is likely multiples higher than people looking at a mountain bike club website. Make sure people know who takes care of your local trails!
Trail One makes our donations via Trailforks for transparency and inspiration. We donate $1 for every Trail One product sold to the trail system it's named for. If a product isn't named for a trail system we put the $1 into the Trail One Treasury and periodically award funds to deserving trail networks.
Get out there and go!
You've gotta take action and start moving forward if you want to help out your local trails. It won't be easy, but hundreds of other mountain bike clubs and trail stewardships around the world have been able to accomplish some amazing things.
Here are some great examples that you can get some inspiration from: