Trailbuilding school: ‘A little bit of work, a little bit of fun’ |

Trailbuilding school: ‘A little bit of work, a little bit of fun’

Last weekend, more than 40 people learned some of the latest trailbuilding techniques from experts with the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew.

After a slide show Friday evening and four hours of classroom instruction Saturday morning, volunteers were able to apply their knowledge by building trail for the Donner Lake Rim Trail project Saturday afternoon and all day Sunday.

The weekend clinic was sponsored by the Truckee Trails Foundation and the Truckee Donner Land Trust.

“It’s a really big deal to get a Trail Care Crew from Subaru/IMBA,” said TTF executive director Leigh Fitzpatrick. “These folks are world-class trail builders and they proved it this weekend.”

The Subaru/IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) team of Lora Woolner and Mark Schmidt travel the world sharing their trailbuilding expertise with volunteers, land managers and trail advocacy groups.

“It was gratifying to come in here and help complete a critical section of the Rim Trail. Plus we loved the enthusiasm of all the volunteers. People in Truckee clearly love trails,” Schmidt said.

In the classroom, volunteers learned how to build trails that were environmentally friendly, erosion resistant and aesthetically pleasing. Woolner and Schmidt demonstrated how to fill in drainage ditches with rocks to provide rideable surfaces while also allowing for water runoff as well as techniques for discouraging people from leaving designated trails.

In the field, the volunteers were given the opportunity to apply what they had learned by extending a trail from Tahoe Donner to Summit Lake, linking two segments of the Donner Lake Rim Trail in the Gregory Creek area.

Susan Sheffield of the Truckee Donner Land Trust estimated that the group built approximately 100 feet of new trail while also making improvements to large sections of the existing trail.

Sheffield, who serves as the rim trail coordinator, looks forward to working with clinic participants in the future in building the Donner Lake Rim Trail because of their new skills. “The volunteers that we have are a lot more knowledgeable after participating in the four-hour class,” she said.

She was encouraged by the local turnout for the clinic. “A lot of the people who were there last weekend were locals… whereas in general, a lot of my volunteers come from Sacramento and the Bay Area,” Sheffield said.

She hopes that the increased trailbuilding expertise in the local community will help get the Rim Trail completed ahead of schedule.

Besides the locals, volunteers came from Reno and as far away as Monterey to attend the Subaru/IMBA trailbuilding clinic.

Rorie Lackey, who lives in Reno but looks forward to being able to help out with future trailbuilding projects in Truckee, heard about the clinic from a friend at the TTF.

“It sounded like a really cool opportunity to learn how to build really sustainable trails,” Lackey said. “I learned that there are two basic things in building trails: Keep the water off and keep the people on.”

Lackey, who was eager to get out and start building trails, was initially skeptical about the value of the four-hour classroom session. However, after the training was over, she appreciated the new ideas she and the other volunteers had learned, and was happy to be able to apply her new knowledge.

Tammy Jakle, a park ranger in Monterey, came up to Truckee after hearing about a previous IMBA clinic from a coworker. She too appreciated the classroom presentation.

“The classroom work enhanced the field work. You were in a comfortable environment where you could ask questions; and then going out and using those skills really reinforced everything.”

Jakle summed up the experience as “a little bit of work, a little bit of fun, all wrapped up in one,” a sentiment shared by everyone involved.

For more information about IMBA’s Trail Care Crew program, go to For more information about trail building in Truckee, contact the Truckee Trails Foundation at (530) 587-8214.

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