Trail Building Tips – Making The Layout

Building dirt bike trails is a pain in the butt, unless you have big equipment. But if that’s the case, you wouldn’t be reading this right now. I’m here to show you how to make trails with tools you should already have hanging on the garage wall or rotting in the shed.

For years I had a dirt bike and didn’t realize what all I had. I thought our 15 acres of woods was a road-block to my dirt biking….. that is, until a couple years ago. I started clearing some brush and small trees to ride through on my dirtbike. Wow, was I surprised at how fun it was to whiz past trees going up, down, back, and forth. It was already Fall, so I only had a couple months before it would snow, but that didn’t stop me. I went out and worked for hours on end, often several times a week.

Trail Map Layout

The first thing I had to do, though, was make an outline or layout of where I wanted the trails to go. The best way to lay out your dirt bike trails is to walk it first to get an idea of where you want to go, trying to avoid large trees and big piles of brush. I put my starting/entry points close to our house or some place that’s easy to connect the end of the trail. I try to make our trails compact so I can squeeze as much in as possible, while not making it too tight. Building it with long straights (doesn’t have to be as straight as an arrow) with switchbacks/180 degree turns is probably the best way to get the most mileage out of your woods.

When walking your woods the first time look for objects (such as logs or rocks) or hills that you can work into the trails to make it more exciting. It’s always easier to build a trail that’s already been started for you, so look for open lines that deer or other furry creatures have made. Doing this can and will save A LOT of time, trust me!! Since we live on farm-land it’s hard to find elevation changes and hills, and if I do happen to find some I make sure to add that section in the layout for future trails. If you have elevation changes or dried up ravines, be happy because they’re hard to come by and are very useful!

Dirt Bike Trail Marker

Once you get an idea of a trail layout, walk it a second time, but with markers. I use colored paper and rip it into smaller pieces, but you can use things like plastic ribbons, paint, tires, or anything that’s bright and noticeable. I staple them on trees right next to the spot of the trail I want every 30-50 feet, or whenever there’s a substantial change in the trail (turn).

DON’T Forget!!!

I made one of the BIGGEST mistakes when building my dirt bike trails for about a year!! I need to let you know so that you don’t make the same mistake that will cause your trails to be boring and almost worthless for a dirt bike. When mapping out your trails with markers, it’s REALLY easy to miss-judge a turn and make it too sharp or too small. It’s best if you ride a turn if possible before clearing it out. Corners can really make or break your trails because they make the flow, and unfortunately I did not realize this until I filled almost half of our woods up….. Oh well, you learn best by your mistakes. But hey, at least they’re good for pit bikes! I’ll cover this and other issues more in future trail building articles.

Brush Cutter For Building Trails

If you have woods, don’t hesitate! Start mapping out and building some dirt bike trails in your free time (If the brush/weeds are too thick then use a Brush Cutter, it makes your job a lot easier). It’s hard work, but the benefits are well worth it, and your riding buddies will love you!

P.S. Now that you can map out your trails, it’s time to learn how to Clear The Dirt Bike Trails

-Tom Stark