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Trail Planning & Design in the Central U.S.

Trail Planning & Design in the Central U.S.

Two IMBA Trail Solutions Professionals Share their Experiences

Posted: September 5, 2022

IMBA Trail Solutions planners, designers, project managers and community engagement specialists span the country each calendar year, crafting the next generation of trail development. The mileage and elevation gains they put on their hiking boots are no match for each of these professionals' passion for bringing more human-powered recreation opportunities to communities.

Mid-summer, their travel slows, and the work that most never see begins: drafting plans, making calls, advocating for communities, navigating endangered species ecosystems…the list goes on. We were curious about some of the team’s most notable field experiences to date in 2022, so we asked, and they answered:

Tim Halbakken & Ryan Heid

Q: Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been on the IMBA Trail Solutions team.

RYAN: I live in North-Central Minnesota, worked in the construction field for over 5 years with a background in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Design. I have been with IMBA for about 3 months now.

TIM: I am an outdoor enthusiast with riding mountain bikes as my preferred method of experiencing nature and producing adrenaline. My family has been riding together from the beginning and I now watch my son do things on his bike I can no longer fathom (raised him right!).

Q: Where has 2022 taken you so far?

RYAN: Sioux City, Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa and Marinette County, WI.

TIM: Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina (virtually)

Riding through mud holes in Florida.

Q: What do you look forward to when traveling to a new project location?

RYAN: Scenery, local character and existing recreation in area.

TIM: Meeting the people and seeing their passion for cycling and confirming that cycling nuts exist everywhere.

Discovering potential in Cuchara, Colorado.

Q: What's one thing communities should be aware of before getting a start on developing high-quality trails?

RYAN: Have a solid understanding on the actual cost for creating a quality system.

TIM: Trails require long-range thinking…who’s going to take care of the trails if the trail champion moves away, etc.

Listening to local riders in Florida.

Q: Tell us about any challenging situations you've been in this year.

RYAN: Inflation has limited some of the options we could provide clients due to increased cost on materials and labor.

TIM: Dealing with cost escalation, particularly in the municipal bike park world.

Q: What trail experiences and bike-optimized facilities are communities asking for in 2022?

RYAN: A lot of pump tracks and skills-based trails as well as large-scale multi-millage trail systems.

TIM: All-weather riding surfaces - chip seal and asphalt trails in high-use urban settings.

Ryan walking along an old trestle in Wisconsin.


Hub tape in Marinette County, WI.

Q: Describe your favorite field experience of the year.

RYAN: Marinette County, WI - Backwoods style county/towns/people, gorgeous site and surrounding amenities all located in the middle of nowhere.

TIM: Des Moines, IA - Working with IMBA legend Chris Orr for the first time to assist Polk County Conservation to craft their vision on a small challenging parcel. Sharing the passion for cycling with the client and sampling (for context) some of the local trails and skating Des Moines’s new world-class skatepark.

Challenging parcel in Des Moines, IA with Chris Orr.
About the author
Liz Chrisman portrait

Liz (she/her) grew up pedaling a garage sale 10-speed on the dirt roads of the Arkansas River Valley and on tarmac throughout college. While finishing her master's program, a coworker handed her a rigid Gary Fisher, drove into the Ouachitas and they conquered mileage on the IMBA EPIC Womble…

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