How much does it cost to build a trail? & trail building process?

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  • How much does it cost to build a trail? & trail building process?
  • banks
    Member

    It’s taken about 6 people and 100’s of hours to dig a 40ft berm which is 10ft high a few roller and two tables.

    Get a digger.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    £50 a metre + design costs would be a reasonable starting point.

    Obviously depends what materials are available on site etc.

    Roughest stab in the world £15 to 25/m. Not including decent features, just bog standard trail. Don’t think that rate will include for prelim’s or “consultancy” / fees.

    Think one FC manual is OGB37 (IIRC) but it’s a dirge.

    Generally speaking; concept sketched out, OPS1 process within FC round various departments, refine and amend following OPS1, plan / design, tender, appoint, construct, supervise, complete, test and commission then open. Some or all of these stages can happen simultaneously or overlap. Assumes no plannign permission required which it often is, particularly if the usual ancillaries (visitor centre, bike wash, cafe etc etc) are lumped into the project so FC can harvest revenue.

    There’s a whole murky stage before the approval in principle about whether a trail ought to be built is made, within FC somewhere. I expect there’s lots of political / opportunity / personal interest factors that come into play that can kybosh a project before it even sees the light of day / gets deigned by FC.

    There was an article in one of the mags about one of the Scottish FC guys (Andy Barlow?) about this sort of thing. Can’t remember when.

    plyphon
    Member

    Lots and lots of Stella Artois

    acidchunks
    Member

    Clayton vale in Manc allegedly cost 850k

    :-/

    edit, not forestry commision

    Foound an old email from someone in FC – standard trail where contractor supplies all stone (i.e. brought in, not site won), nominal 1000 width, reducing to c.500 as edges creep in and trail ages plus “normal” drainage was £15 in 2008. Call it £20 for 2013, mebe?

    You can build great trails for a lot less with volunteers, a half decent site and ability to plan / design.

    Plant can help but usually you have to get in with it and get out without wrecking what you’ve built, this all adds cost and time. Low key volunteers can get in areas much easier and with good skills can build some unique and interesting features.

    rocketman
    Member

    Read somewhere it costs £5/m for volunteers to dig a sustainable trail out of well-drained ground, 10x that if it involves contractors and machinery

    Depends on the trail, I’ve heard £15/meter mentioned somewhere, but I’ve also heard that double or trebel for a more intereting trail.

    Guess it depends on the existing ‘trail’ (assuming you have something in dirt to start with and want to armour/improve it). Cwm Rhyadder for example seems to hop between sections of exposed bedrock for the features and the berms mostly seem to be cut in and drained rather than built up which looks cheeper, than say Swinley where every corner is built up sky high.

    …dig a sustainable trail out of well-drained ground…

    Water management is the biggest part of trail-building IMHO, certainly in the chalky south. It also racks up time, and consequently money.

    Rorschach
    Member

    At Antur Stiniog there’s 8-9km of trails….and 4km of drainage channels!!
    Built by http://www.extremetrack.co.uk/home (which is basically just Mai!!)

    tacopowell
    Member

    I’m talking of an average UK trail centre trail, with berms and table tops etc etc?

    I suppose its a very broad question with many factors to take into account,

    I’m curious to to know the full process of a forestry commission based trail, any good links to articals, websites?

    Water can be a trail killer but the solutions don’t have to be extensive and expensive. Stick to basic IMBA guidelines about trail grade not exceeding 15% of slope (IIRC) and cross fall of 3 to 5% to shed water and many problems can be avoided.

    If your trail route goes against these “rules” then assess and decide how / what to compromise. Landscapes and drainage patterns change over time as do trails for all sorts of reasons. Multiple solutions depending on location and particular problem.

    IME stone is the major cost and contractors uplift / risk allowances are the main cost driver. That in large part is driven by client expectations.

    Have seen rates for technical features (either on trail or in skills areas) of between £50 to £250/m.

    Anyone remember when Lee Quarry got built and they used a helicopter to drop in materials – bet that wasn’t cheap 😉

    Walking excavators also expensive but can do a verey different job compared to regular plant. So many factors to consider.

    GEDA
    Member

    I bought a spade, rake, bow saw and borrowed a pinch. Built 100s of metres of trail for about £40.

    I bought a spade, rake, bow saw and borrowed a pinch. Built 100s of metres of trail for about £40.

    And how many people ride over it in a year?

    This isn’t a slight – I’m just trying to gauge use of trails being discussed.

    You can do masses by hand, by yourself, especially on trails that stay a bit “below the radar”. It’s all good. TBH, a good pair of secateurs will improve loads of trails of the slightly cheeky variety.

    Sometimes though folks build dedicated trails to attract the masses and I figure that’s where the OP was coming from.

    😎

    Premier Icon Pook
    Subscriber

    I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Sherwood pines

    GEDA
    Member

    It depends on the soil type. Some you just have to dig the trail others you have to lay down a lot of stone.

    tacopowell
    Member

    It’s taken about 6 people and 100’s of hours to dig a 40ft berm which is 10ft high a few roller and two tables.

    Is that for 36ers and above, only?

    I expect there’s lots of political / opportunity / personal interest factors that come into play that can kybosh a project before it even sees the light of day / gets deigned by FC.

    If I won the lottery, could I waltz with the money and demand a new trail centre? Unlikely…

    Lots and lots of Stella Artois

    😀

    Low key volunteers can get in areas much easier and with good skills can build some unique and interesting features.

    gorilla trail building, Has to be the case in many areas i guess. Very tempting.

    I’m pretty sure he’s talking about Sherwood pines

    Your not wrong, I posted this to assess the trails and tribulations (Pun most defiantly intended) of building trails and why it seems to be an issue at Pines, regardless of what else is available in the area, it’s the FC’s involvement i’m intrigued about,
    That been said, its always good to read about it from other perspectives.

    Premier Icon stumpyjon
    Subscriber

    At Gisburn we were working on £25 per metre plus materials and extra for features and materials. Having worked for Clixbys for a few weeks I was surprised at the amount of time and effort expended getting materials and plant to the trail face and Hugh has a lighter touch than others. I know the helicopter for Lee Quarry was the cheapest option!

    There are drawbacks to the way contractors build trails, time is of the essance and they don’t get the chance to come back and sort drainage and line issues after 12 months. Volunteers are slower although can build more sustainable trails and provide vital ongoing maintenance and cause less collateral damage.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    As above, it can be dirt cheap to build a scraped line in the dirt, or it can be fantastically expensive to build a durable line in a swamp. £20 per metre was the number bruited about for Kirroughtree but then it seems to be mostly in excellent ground, and FC have advantages in terms of land ownership and access, hardware, and their own quarries.

    Also depends what you’re making… One major reason jumps-and-pumps style trails are so popular is that you can smash them in with a big 360 and a good driver, for example, massive smiles per hour… but handbuilding them is a nightmare, so much material to move. Meanwhile natural-feeling armoured singletrack is much harder to build, because you have to retain and work around existing ground features- can’t do it with a big bucket, and no matter what there’ll be handwork. And relatively lightly built or as-dug trails are quicker, and tend to feel nicer, but unless you have perfect dirt tend not to last too well either.

    Construction methods… Vary depending on circumstances- how longlasting it has to be, how much traffic, ground conditions, and target market. But the stuff I know best is handbuilt, very busy trailcentre stuff and it goes like this:

    Dig “tray” around 2-3 foot wide, going down to good solid mineral soil- you remove the topsoil with its high organic content basically because it holds water and it’s squishy, you can’t build anything durable with it and you really don’t want to build on it. That can mean going down quite a long way. You dig around roots etc so that they’re left suspended- basically you want to remove anything that isn’t solid.

    At this point, depending on the ground and the lie of the trail you might also be putting in some serious drains- sometimes the only option is culverts under the trail, but you avoid that if you can. So big topside drain, pipe laid as low as you can. (sometimes some alternative methods, but let’s not get too complicated)

    You’ll now have something that looks a wee bit like a trail. You bury this… We use mostly crushed rock, because it’s the most durable and consistent finish, and because we have tons of it. Lots of work to move around. We also use locally gathered stones as filler, and sometimes some local mineral soil where it’s easily accessed (usually because we’ve dug it up while building). You can use a lot more of this, some trails are entirely built with locally “borrowed” material but it’s not as long-lived and it’s time consuming.

    So we build back up to the original level or a little higher (draining again). Interesting features tend to get buried entirely- it’s hard to compact stone around a root, frinstance, so we go over it and then compress it with a wacker plate. What’s left now is often a 3 foot wide, horrible bmx track.

    You’re thinking about drainage all the way through btw but that’s mostly fairly common sense- does need a fair amount of thought to avoid, frinstance, building a berm that becomes a pond. High and low points etc.

    The next stage is internet forums pissing and moaning about how sanitised it is and about how it’s a bmx track- ideally based on one photo rather than actually riding it.

    The next stage, is riding in. Because we don’t generally build the trail how we want it to be, we build it for how it will be. This is why it’s hard- people like Andy Wardman at Glentress can do it, most folks can’t, I certainly can’t, I always think we’re ****ing it right up until the day it becomes great.

    So, that 3 foot wide tray which is obviously far too wide… Soon, a clear ride line should form. Debris, pine needles, bits of windblown stuff, and eventually vegetation encroach (we do a bit of this ourselves manually to speed it up, when we can). So you end up with, hopefully, a narrow ride line surrounded by hidden armour which protects the main line, reduces damage to the edges (the weakest point) and also helps stop people killing themselves when going too fast.

    (nb- in practice this doesn’t work as well as you’d hope, because some dicks will ride off the trail even if it’s a mile wide if they think it’ll save them a strava-second, and because with the sheer volume of riders means that the ride line will be wide anyway)

    Next, the trail beds in- there’s natural settling and shrinkage as it dries off, some of the fines will blow away, leaving a rubblier surface which is more interesting and natural feeling. Riders will also wear it down, which is good. Those buried roots etc come back to the surface but are still solidly part of the trail, because the rock is so compacted around them, there’s no voids.

    So all in all… It’s almost exactly like building a road, except without the tarmac. It’s a kind of insane process but what it gives you is a trail 300000 people a year can ride all year round for, hopefully, a very long time.

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    Kirroughtree, taken as costings for the entire trail – ie : cut to laid surface suitable for repeated use in all conditions was significantly more than £20/metre to execute, if folk realised quite how much it actually cost to be able to ride all that surfaced singletrack they may be a tad more forthcoming with paying the £3 car park fees.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    That figure was from Pete Laing… Though it’s always possible it’s wrong of course, or just not the full cost.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    Trevallyn NRA Track Stat

    26 August 2013
    Due to the horrible weather we’ve been having, the newly constructed mountain bike trails at Trevallyn Reed nature recreation areas have been closed until further notice.
    Drainage and water management are key as said a few times…

    We have 2 new build sets of trails within 5mins of the house. Both have been mostly closed since July (Winter here) there was not enough funding to cap/weatherproof the planned trail network so the choice was reduced trails or build and hope. Plan B hasn’t really worked. Even where it has been weather proofed the drainage isn’t up to the job. To open the trails would trash them completely so they are waiting for some dry weather to get back in and fix the damage.

    The weather here is better than in the UK too.

    cbike
    Member

    My folks have done it on a larger scale but you encounter similar problems – Funding, Planning, funding, planning, Landowners…. About 2 or 3 years before you even begin looking for a contractor.

    Some of the types of agencies you may encounter – http://www.threelochsway.co.uk/acknowledgements.html

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    Certain early sections with ease of access were certainly around the projected figure of £20 metre so you were quite right, but later additions to the singletrack with more “off-piste” sections and the attempt to include as much natural formations as possible increased the costs. It was well worth the extra expense though as the surface has held up very well to some horrible weather conditions due to the excellent construction, Chris Ross (principle trail planner) deserves a pat on the back for giving us a man made trail with excellent flow.

    It seems a little bizarre to me that one government department will spend £20 per metre building a “man made” trail, while another won’t pay someone for a couple of hours labour with a strimmer once a month to keep a “natural” trail clear and rideable.

    Premier Icon mikewsmith
    Subscriber

    MidlandTrailquestsGraham – Member
    It seems a little bizarre to me that one government department will spend £20 per metre building a “man made” trail, while another won’t pay someone for a couple of hours labour with a strimmer once a month to keep a “natural” trail clear and rideable.

    One generates income and attracts visitors to somewhere new which normally attracts grants the other doesn’t and will have to come from a normal budget.

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    That makes sense Somafunk… Worth every penny.

    MidlandTrailquestsGraham – Member

    It seems a little bizarre to me that one government department will spend £20 per metre building a “man made” trail, while another won’t pay someone for a couple of hours labour with a strimmer once a month to keep a “natural” trail clear and rideable.

    Different budgets, aye… There is money to build trails, not enough to maintain them, even honey pots like glentress get less attention than they could do with never mind smaller centres or natural trails. Watching places like Learnie fall into disrepair is sad.

    bartimaeus
    Member

    QE Red Trail was rebuilt/extended by our collective volunteers ‘for nothing’, though we did have access to a ranger with a chainsaw and some treated timber. But it’s mostly scraped dirt / bench cut, and any odd bits of surfacing and features (berms/tables) are built from chalk dug out by hand.

    The Blue Trail rebuild will cost real money as it will need a digger and surfacing.

    So you can build trails on the cheap – but not a sculpted all-weather trail centre.

    Mikewsmith and Northwind, I get your point.
    I know it’s a fantasy and will never happen, but rather than see mountain biking turned in to a leisure acivity that takes place at an approved activity centre, I’d rather see every local council employ someone with a quad bike and a small mower/hedge trimmer to ride along every footpath and bridleway on their patch throughout the summer to keep it clear.

    It’s another Catch 22 situation, like the women in mountain bike magazines thing again.
    People don’t use paths because they are overgrown, councils won’t spend money on paths because nobody uses them.

    Premier Icon somafunk
    Subscriber

    I can sympathise with your point graham and some councils do assign their groundsmen to trim brambles and suchlike from the side of recognised paths, our local council does on the recognised paths up here in Galloway, there’s no such thing as bridleways/footpaths – everything up here is fair game for everyone as it should be – perhaps get in touch with your countryside ranger if your local council has such a person/position and state your case.

    They’re are other paths up here that are out of council control/unrecognised on their system and it’s up to the primary users to keep them clear (ie : me) so perhaps take a bramble scythe/weed scythe or bushook and clear them yourself – you don’t have to do the entire length but just do the worst bits so folk can still gain access then perhaps they’ll offer to help or at worst the continual foot traffic will help to keep them clear and open.

    It’s immensely satisfying to clear an overgrown trail/remove deadfall etc and admittingly it does give you a warm glow when folk come up and thank you or even bring you home baking and a flask of tea to thank you (yummy mummy dog walking crowd who now use the trails 😉 ), this year i’ve spent at least 14 days clearing 4+ miles of old overgrown/deadfall paths that i’ve been threatening to clear for a couple of years as i used to ride them years ago but a big storm felled so many trees that they soon got overgrown and nature claimed them back, i spent approx £100 ish on decent tools (Silky Zorbat saw/Stihl Bush hook, Weed scythe/slasher and Pruning shears) and threw myself into it but i now have my old trails back again and can pop out for a quick blast on my trails whenever i like.

    Premier Icon dti
    Subscriber

    we have built a couple on good ground – circa £10k for 1200m

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