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Trail Builder Resources PDF Print E-mail

Trails are what we’re all about. To help make sure existing trails stay narrow and technically challenging, SDMBA frequently teams with land managers to work on trail maintenance and reroute projects. Land managers generally contract out for the actual construction of new routes, but SDMBA members have a well-earned reputation for trail design expertise and we’re frequently asked to consult on design and layout. One of the most fulfilling elements of volunteering is being able to design new trails, followed by the satisfaction of actually riding them. Become an expert. Join us for trail work and read up!

To learn more about trail planning and design, consult the following list of trail building books and articles compiled by IMBA as the best available. 

Trail Building 

Books on Trail Design

These three books cover different aspects of trail planning and design, but complement each other by emphasizing different aspects.

Trail Solutions: IMBA's Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack

This is the one book to have, if you’re only going to have one. It combines cutting-edge trail building techniques with proven fundamentals in a colorful, easy-to-read format. It is such a good resource that SDMBA got a grant to give complementary copies to San Diego county area land managers and liaisons. Become a liaison for your favorite riding area or a SDMBA board member and we’ll give you a free copy too!

Natural Surface Trails by Design: Physical and Human Design Essentials of Sustainable, Enjoyable Trails

This book is the perfect companion to Trail Solutions because it focuses on the 'why' of trails more than the 'how.'

Lightly on the Land: The SCA Trail Building and Maintenance Manual

This classic book focuses on the “how to” of trail construction and emphasizes traditional trail building skills.

IMBA Articles on Trail Design

The following articles address specific issues often encountered during trail planning, design and maintenance. The IMBA web site contains more articles on other trail topics that may be of interest, including several on how to incorporate technical challenges into trail design:

  • 10 Most Common Trail Building Mistakes
  • Building Sustainable Trails
  • Trail Building Tips for Sensitive Areas
  • Build Contour Trails with Full Bench Cut and Outslope
  • Building Trails in Urban Areas
  • Rolling Crown Switchbacks - Routing Trails on Steeper Grades
  • Rolling Crown Switchbacks - The Basics
  • Rolling Grade Dips - Smarter Than the Average Water Bar
  • Rolling Grade Dips - Erosion Control Basics
  • Closing and Reclaiming Damaged Trails


IMBA Trail Solutions


IMBA's Natural Surface Trails


IMBA's Lightly on the Land 


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