What Makes a good MTB Trail?

What makes a trail good for every-day mountain bikers?

I’m talking about “good trails”. That doesn’t mean “okay trails”, “good enough trails”, “acceptable trails”, or “sufficient trails”. This posting is defining good stuff. And I’m intentionally avoiding the use of over-reaching adjectives like “world-class”, “excellent”, “super”, “awesome” etc. Let’s be realistic and think about what may actually be attainable in El Dorado Hills. By that I mean you won’t find in my list any trail qualities like 5 miles of downhill decents or 20 foot gap jumps or remote wild destinations; those qualities just aren’t ever going  to exist in EDH except perhaps in the day dreams of some residents.

We can, however, look around the local terrain and think about what trail users like and dislike. This list is largely informed by my life experience, observations, research, and discussions with friends. Someone else may have a different opinion. And even within the primary user group, the preferences or priorities on this list will be different. So here it goes in no particular order…

List of LIKES ::

  • narrow dirt trail (18-36″ wide)
  • safe (e.g. – good lines of sight)
  • interesting features – everyone varies a little in what is “interesting”, examples
    • flow-y trail
    • frequent turns
    • jumps (1 – 3 ft tall) w/bypass
    • rock outcroppings
    • elevation change (some like small undulations, others love monster climbs/descents)
    • obstacle challenges like ledge drops and log crossings
    • long vista views
    • weaving around trees
  • natural surroundings
  • continuity of trail, uninterrupted experience
  • 3 – 15 miles of good (mostly continuous) trail in a single ride
  • variety of trail – different trailheads, loops, directions, segments to mix-n-match, and terrain
  • start from home (live local – ride local)
  • multiple access/exits points

List of DISLIKES ::

  • wide paved or graveled trail (over 36″ wide)
  • unchallenging or boring features — long stretches of straight, flat, smooth
  • interrupted experience due to disjointed trail segments
  • too short to “get a good ride”

Photos of EXAMPLES ::

Narrow singletrack trail over irregular surface. Within sight of Hwy 50.

A post shared by Mike On Trails (@mikeontrails) on

Rock obsticles on New York Creek Trail. 🙂

A post shared by Mike On Trails (@mikeontrails) on

Single track with room to get off trail when needed.

A post shared by Mike On Trails (@mikeontrails) on

Brown's Ravine transitions to single track at times.

A post shared by Mike On Trails (@mikeontrails) on

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  1. […] do trail runners like in a trail? Answer – a lot of the same things as mountain bikers and nature walkers. Who […]



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