Arkansas has become home to several trail-building companies. Professional builders are using heavy machinery to build miles of trails every week throughout The Natural State. Many of these companies are owned and managed by people who got their start in trail building as volunteers. Northwest Arkansas Community College has begun offering certification courses to support professional trail building. Despite this growth of professional trail building, volunteers continue to do much of the maintenance and minor building. Land managers often rely on volunteer organizations to perform in-kind work that supports grant applications that are necessary to fund the professional work.
The trend of more volunteers involved in mountain bike trail building and maintenance is clear. However, their motives vary. In a recent study in Denmark, researchers reveal many reasons people volunteer to do trail building and maintenance. Volunteering is defined as an unpaid, planned activity that requires free will and takes place in an organized context. While some material benefits may be involved, no salary is given.
The researchers identified the top 10 motives for volunteering to work on mountain bike trails.
- To contribute to the local mountain bike trails.
- To provide opportunities for positive mountain bike experiences for other riders.
- To get mountain bike trails close to home.
- To support the voluntary work on the mountain bike trails.
- To contribute to the making of mountain bike trails at all levels.
- To create more activity possibilities in the local area.
- To get out in the open air.
- To be a part of a social community.
- To get mountain bike trails that match my own desires and needs.
- To devote myself to my interest in mountain bike trail building.
Whatever your motive for performing trail maintenance, we recommend getting involved in one of the trail volunteer groups in the state. This will help you learn the best way to construct and fix a trail. (Warning from the editor: once you know how a trail should be built, you’ll never look at a trail the same way again.)
Here are several groups you could get involved with:
- Ozark Off-Road Cyclists – Northwest Arkansas
- Central Arkansas Trail Alliance – Central Arkansas
- Trailblazers – TAP (Trail Adoption Program) – Northwest Arkansas
- Trail Advocacy Coalition of the Ouachitas – Hot Springs
- River Valley – Russellville Area
- Trail Team of North Central Arkansas – Mountain Home/Mountain View
- Frontier – Fort Smith Area
- CC Riders – Carroll County
- Borderline – Siloam Springs
- Northeast Arkansas Trail Organization – Jonesboro Area
- Central Arkansas Off-Road Group – Conway Area
- Friends of the Ouachita Trail – Ouachita Trail
- The Trail Dogs – Womble, Ouachita Trail, LOViT
- Arkansas Master Naturalists – Statewide
- Trail Organization of the Arkansas Delta – TOAD – Southeast Arkansas
(As a testament to the passion of trail volunteers, we’ve heard from several that were not included on the original list. While the original list was not meant to be all-inclusive, we’ve had a change of heart on that so, if we missed any others, please send them to email@example.com. Thanks.)