Rocky Mountain High
For many small towns across America, mountain biking is continuing to play a large role in the economy, culture, and the trails themselves. This is especially true for Red Lodge, Montana; home to about 2,000 people. With the town just a stone’s throw from Yellowstone and Beartooth Range, and bordered by bountiful wilderness areas, national forests, and parks, the Pedal United chapter of IMBA is capitalizing on the recreational tourism these resources draw by incorporating mountain biking into the local economic portfolio.
With several existing Forest Service trails just a short ride from Main Street, the resources are already in place to establish a great trail network accessible to mountain bikes. Pedal United began seeking creative solutions to make the existing National Forest trails more attractive to mountain bikers by raising awareness that many of the existing turns and switchbacks were designed and built too tight for bikes. By improving on this one element of trail design, the chapter knew the changes would equate to greater user experience, and a more inclusive trail network, which in turn would bolster the local economy.
Despite the desire and interest in improvements, the Forest Service doesn’t have the ability to snap their fingers and make these changes. It takes a coordinated effort between the chapter, riders, and local volunteers to develop the trust, responsibility and understanding required to work on Federal lands. As a show of faith, Pedal United brought the IMBA Trail Care Crew to town to demonstrate their willingness to build sustainable trail that can benefit all users, with a respect for the local public resources. With close to 20 Trail Building School volunteers on Saturday, a new insloped turn as well as 200’ of undulating bench cut trail was constructed on what will be a vital connection between two trail networks in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.
We enjoyed working with all of the local volunteers and land managers, and hope to visit Red Lodge again in the future to see this trail system’s progression. We would like to thank Pedal United, the Beartooth Recreation Trail Association, USFS, and the Spoke Wrench bike shop for making our weekend a success.
Until Next Time,