Every community has a trail system whether its in a park, and old abandoned rail line or a along a river valley. Trails have become critical part of municipal infrastructure just like roads, bridges and street lights. They play a role to keep people healthy, reduce dependance on cars and fossil fuels, build a sense of community, and simply get people outside in the natural environment.
Why is it that trails still seem to get the ‘whats left’ in municipal budgets and have no real plan or path for maintenance or new development? Its because trails are seen to have little economic value or potential to stimulate the local economy.
Trails tourism is a sector that is relatively untapped and is there for the pickings for those communities that want to be aggressive, spend some infrastructure dollars and create unique, appealing trail based experiences that attract spenders.
The trick is to be different and offer something that is use specific. Mountain biking is an activity that very few communities are building specific trails for. Mountain biking is like downhill skiing or snowboarding and just look at the infrastructure that is built, and look at the dollars it generates. A well designed and built mountain bike trail not only creates and experience for bikers, but actually becomes a very enjoyable hiking path, or snowshoe trail in the winter. Mountain bike trails are one of the most cost effective, as good trails construction only require hand tools, labour and a skilled designer. There are not enough good mountain bike trails…there is tremendous capacity for new experiences. Make your community the next biggest destination for a tourism trails experience.
A must have trail construction manual is provided by the International Mountain Bike Association http://www.imba.com/resources