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Trail Labs: Foundations


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.


We’re working on dates for the next Trail Labs: Foundations. Sign up to learn more about IMBA Education programs.

Person riding bike in Bentonville, location of an IMBA Trail Labs Foundations

Want to create a great place to ride? We can help.

Foundations are two-day intensive workshops during which IMBA staff, trail industry experts and local stakeholders lead participants through the recipe for a model community trail system: planning, design, building, activation, promotion and measuring success. Attendees will also get a firsthand look at components of an intentional and diverse mountain bike trails community through field visits.

Individuals best-suited to attend the workshops are land managers, community officials, recreation professionals and tourism/economic development staff. In addition to helping you understand the benefits of trails and the experiences desired by mountain bikers, we will provide the knowledge you need to get started making great trails happen locally and help you identify the next steps needed to bring more trails to your own backyards.


Why Foundations?

“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



What to expect: a sample schedule



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.


Generous local sponsors bring Foundations to their communities, to showcase the success they have experienced by investing in trails.

Have questions on Foundations? Connect with our team.

Whether you are after solitude or community I am not sure if there is a better avenue than wheels on dirt. It is my goal to see these opportunities become ever more accessible through education and development. 

Meet our team
John Cox

Education Coordinator


Support Mountain Biking

Our vision is that everyone has a place to ride a mountain bike. You can help make that happen!
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