Northwoods Trails, Hot Springs (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

IMBA Trail Building Workshop Returns to Bentonville

Arkansas Cycling and Fitness

“Foundations are in-depth workshops designed to catalyze the next generation of great places to ride mountain bikes. Attendees will learn what it takes to create a model trail community and return home with the knowledge and guidance for how to make it happen.”

The International Mountain Bicycling Association will host the Trail Labs Foundations workshops on April 5-7, 2023 in Bentonville, Arkansas. Formerly called Trail Labs, Bentonville has been the host city for these workshops in the past in an effort to teach best practices in creating trail systems in towns around the state and country. IMBA staff, trail industry experts, and local stakeholders lead these two-day intensive workshops. They will present a recipe for creating a model community trail system including planning, design, building, activation, promotion, and measuring success. The workshops are well-suited for land managers, community officials, recreation professionals, and tourism/economic development staff.

Digging at Northwoods (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Digging at Northwoods (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

For an example of what these Foundation Workshops can do for a community, look no further than Hot Springs, Arkansas.

“We attended IMBA Foundations to learn about mountain biking. We sort-of know about trails, but they’re a relatively new thing to us. We’re excited about economic development and a healthier lifestyle and, really importantly, the quality of life that trails close to home will provide.” — Steve Arrison, Visit Hot Springs Arkansas CEO

As a reminder, the Northwoods/Cedar Glades Trail System was recently voted as the favorite trail system in Arkansas by Arkansas Outside readers.

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Grooming Trail (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Grooming Trail (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

We recommend sharing this information with your local city, county, and regional leadership. The cost for the workshop is only $600.00. I can’t think of a better way to spend a few tax dollars. Those interested can register here.

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Todo List (photo courtesy of ADPHT)
Todo List (photo courtesy of ADPHT)

IMBA has provided a sample schedule for the Trail Lab Foundations Workshop:

Day one theme: The model trail recipe

Plan It

  • Why mountain bike trails?
  • What are sustainable trails?
  • Visioning and community planning
  • Building a dream team of experts
  • Understanding the planning process
  • Gaining project support and funding

Design It

  • Developing the desired mountain biking experience
  • What level of design detail is needed
  • Operations and maintenance considerations in design
  • Signage and risk management
  • Phasing your plan

Build It

  • Balancing desires with reality
  • Working with volunteers and professionals
  • Construction contracting
  • Crafting procedural documentation
  • Trail network public opening checklist

Afternoon tour of various mountain biking facilities, followed by an optional group ride and dinner on your own. (There will be no trail building.)

Day two theme: If you build it, will they come?

Activate It

  • Creating a plan for sustainability
  • Developing a programming strategy to take full advantage of the trails
  • Activating and engaging partners
  • Developing new riders

Promote It

  • Gaining community support for the project
  • Developing maps and websites
  • Hosting events, festivals, and races
  • Engaging the wider community

Measure It

  • Evaluating the impact of the trail facility
  • Trail counters and on-site surveys
  • Tracking volunteer hours
  • Data collection and management
  • Using data to improve the trail system

Afternoon tour of various mountain biking facilities, followed by an afternoon interactive session where attendees will begin to draft a plan for their community’s trail project while considering the six core ingredients alongside Foundations experts.

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