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A Youthful Perspective On Trail Building

03 | Mar | '20
Kellen Culver


Next Generation

I love trail building, and I want others my age to love it too.


As a rider, have you noticed who maintains the trails? How old are these volunteers? And what might happen to our trails if the number of volunteers who come out to help dig starts to decline?

As a 16-year-old rider I’ve noticed that the majority of volunteers who come to Evergreen dig days are in their 40’s and 50’s.

I don’t want my generation of riders to grow up and not understand where the amazing trails around us came from. 

In the past few months I have been working on maintaining trails out at Tokul near Fall City with my mentor Peter Sherrill, from the Evergreen Cascades to Sound Chapter. Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what I work on; keeping trails clear, fixing drains and building up new features. If we wait until the last minute to maintain trails, we won't have too many left to ride.

If you’ve ever volunteered, then you know the amount of manual labor and pure effort that goes into just fixing drains or reworking a turn.

"As a young rider who is still learning, growing and becoming a better rider, I have found many benefits to helping out on the trails."

For one, you get to be the first to ride new features which is always fun! Also, you get to give your own input on a trail and find new trails you would have never known about. Finally, the sense of giving back to your community and getting to know other riders in your local community is really rewarding. I have found that since I began working on trails, I have become a much better rider in both descending and climbing.


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Kellen digging at Tokul (left) and riding.


Another amazing benefit that may be looked over by some riders is that I get to learn about the trail. By this I mean that I walk trails more than I ride them, which gives me a chance to analyze all the alternative lines. Whenever I ride a trail I’ve just walked and helped dig on, I find way more little features to pop off of that I normally wouldn’t notice while just riding down the trail. 

When walking up and down trails I like to ask my mentor questions. I'll ask about why some features were placed where they are, and this teaches me about some of the restraints the builders work with. Through this process of working with my mentor, I’ve built up my understanding of proper placement of jumps, drops and steep descents.

"I remember my first build I was 14 years old and working with other adults. Even with my age difference I felt so welcome and had so much fun just talking with other volunteers about their experiences mountain biking."

With this experience I learned about many new trails in the area that I rode in the future as well as learning about the trail systems I ride in. 

If you are a young rider come join me out on the trails and keep the community growing! If you’ve never done a build but are interested, you can find all the work parties or other Evergreen events on the Calendar Page. Or, if you are specifically interested in working out at Tokul, you can shoot me an email and we can set up a day to go out and work on some trails!


Need Community Service Hours?

If you're in school and need community service hours, Evergreen builders would be happy to sign off on those hours if you come out to work with us on trails! Just let the Evergreen trail crew lead know and they'll sign for you.

Learn more about why trail building is such a great activity for young riders to participate in.