This is an issue that has come up in a couple forums I use in a couple different ways recently. Most discussions on this topic seem to devolve into shouting and uncivil behavior and I wish they wouldn’t. Good behavior with these issues is important because as mountain bikers, we’d like to be seen as responsible trail users.
So, you want a legal mountain bike trail in your area? There are a few things you need to do. I had a great big long post in the neighborhood of 2000 words, but I just didn’t like it. I’ll just keep things simple for now.
First, find a place. Identify any landowners or land managers.
Next, get permission. For large agencies, this can be a long, detailed process. Part of this process should involve developing a plan for what you want to do.
Get trained. You can do this step first or second, also. But don’t make it wait longer than this point. The videos in this post are a good start to training, but you should attend a seminar, learn from other experienced trailbuilders, or hire a professional to train your group if you can.
Once you have permission, a plan, and some training, you can get started with building or maintaining your trails. Basic maintenance like trimming brush doesn’t really require any special training, but if you want to move any dirt, you should get the training. Depending on the agency you work with, you may need specific chainsaw training if you’re allowed to use them at all.
This series of videos from IMBA gives a great overview of the trailbuilding process.
The Most Important Step (Permission and planning)
Trail Design Mistakes
Designing Sustainable Trails
Let’s Get Dirty