Building trails is about more than digging in the dirt.
It encompasses several variables — planning the best ways to build them and promoting safety, creating paths that look like they’ve been around for years, and challenging future mountain bike enthusiasts to grow in their sport.
At least those are some of the lessons Jordan Carr and Lani Bruntz taught during an all-day trail-building workshop Saturday, that had attendees learning and living out their interest in nature.
The two are part of a traveling Trail Care Crew with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA), sponsored by Subaru.
Their goal is to teach trail-building through teamwork. Bruntz and Carr led presentations on the nuances of trail-building for about 40 people at the Running Y Resort Saturday morning, an event facilitated by Klamath Trails Alliance that culminated in work on a proposed 20-mile trail system at Spence Mountain in the afternoon.
“It’s all really about building sustainable trails,” said Drew Honzel, KTA secretary and event facilitator.
“This is kind of built with the mountain biker in mind, this trail, although it’d a make a great (path) for trail running and hopefully hiking.”
Klamath Trails Alliance received a $50,000 anonymous donation from a private foundation that will allow the KTA to have four to five miles of trail built as well as a trailhead Weidenbach, a member of KTA.
The trailhead is owned by the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the 7,400-acre Spence Mountain is owned by JWTR, a timber company.
Construction work on the trail is underway, and Saturday was a day for volunteers to play a part.
Volunteers learned the nuances of trail-building, including how to integrate challenges into mountain biking courses, the importance of adding relevant, signage, and keeping hikers and bikers on the right path.
“The goal this year is to get the first phase done, which is three miles,” Honzel said.
He said the full 20-mile trail completion depends on volunteers and funding. “After today, I’m pretty impressed with all the volunteers that showed,” Honzel said.
Weidenbach echoed similar feelings about the work day.
“The power of people coming together to build communities, and build trails,” Weidenbach said. “It’s a real powerful force.”
Klamath Falls resident Patrick Green was one of those volunteers who looked forward to building trails. He listened as Carr took volunteers through the basics of trail building at the Running Y Resort.
“I expect to get my hands dirty,” Green said. “It’s great to have the IMBA come out.”
And that’s exactly what volunteers did. Mud and a threat of rain didn’t keep volunteers from taking their skills on the road to Spence Mountain, along Highway 140 West.
Bruntz and Carr explained proper use of trail-building equipment before volunteers took to the mountain in teams.
Klamath Falls resident Saravanan Mysalmy took a break from clearing a section of path near the base of Spence Mountain, expressing enthusiasm about one day using the trails for running. It was his first time building trails, although he’s no stranger to crossing paths with them.
“I do a lot of trail running,” Mysalmy said. “I want to give back.”
IMBA duo Bruntz and Carr travel all over the country teaching the trail-building trade, the most important tenant of which is planning how to build them.
Carr said attendance at such workshops ranges between about 10 and 50 people, depending on the community. They most recently held a similar workshop in Hood River.
“It’s a really good turnout,” Carr said, along a new stretch of trail at Spence Mountain. “It’s really cool to see a passionate community.”
KTA member Adam Burwell expressed enthusiasm for the new trail system.
“Spence Mountain is a blank slate,” Burwell said. “We have the ability to create some really special trails.”
KTA member and volunteer Caroline Nash came down from Corvallis to attend the workshop.
“What was really nice about this particular class was they taught you the specs,” Nash said.