There is more that goes into creating the narrow trails that avid hikers and mountain bikers enjoy than one might imagine.
Those curious about the art of trail-building will be able to find out more this weekend. The International Mountain Bicycling Association's trail-building team will be at Thurmond Lake Visitors Center for a three-hour course in trail building and maintenance.
The class will precede the Southeast Off-Road Bicycle Association's area chapter bike festival, which will be Saturday at Deer Run picnic area at Thurmond Lake.
The festival will be from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. and will include demonstration rides from bike manufacturer Giant, a group ride, and food and games. There is no cost.
Land managers, mountain bikers, hikers and horseback riders are among those who can benefit from the trail-building instruction, said Bill Victor, a Clarks Hill, S.C., resident who owns Longcane Trails LLC.
"They're going to come in and teach anybody that's interested in trails how to go about maintaining and building in a way that they minimize erosion, minimize impact on land and maximize fun that the user is going to have."
Victor said the niche business has been good since he started in 2000. Federal grants and private landowners wanting to build trails have kept the projects coming for Victor and his peers in the industry.
Saturday's school also is free. The bicycling association's team of instructors will deliver a slide show presentation on trail-building, with an emphasis on creating trails that will still be around decades later.
"It's all about managing the water," Victor said. "When you're walking on a trail, you might not realize it, but that trail you're on -- a good trail -- is not actually dead flat from side to side."
Trail builders grade to ensure water does not stay on the trail for long, and they occasionally reverse the grade to stall the downhill flow of water.
Victor said creating trails typically costs $2-3 a foot, a level of expense that often surprises landowners looking for someone to create a system of trails on their land.
"They choke," Victor said. "They're like, 'What? We thought all you had to do was ride a motorcycle through the woods and you had a trail.' I'm like, 'Well, you just spent $10 million on your land to build a trail park and you really don't know anything about trails.' "
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