Dirt Bike Trail Building Tips – Clearing The Trail

Clearing a section of dirt bike trails is tedious work. There is often a lot to move or cut out of the way, even if you’re just making single track. There are many ways to do it. The easiest is to bulldoze it over or ride over it with a 4 wheeler, but I’m here to help you build trails with cheap tools.

It took a long time and many wasted hours of trying to figure out what routine works best when clearing a section of trails, but I finally figured it out. I was too picky in the early stages of making dirt bike trails because I was trying to get rid of all the sticks on the ground, as well as RAKING LEAVES!!! That’s right, I actually raked leaves. I cannot believe how many hours I wasted trying to rake every last leaf off of the trail just so I could see dirt! That wouldn’t fly, so I quit raking my time away…

Bow Saw

Once you made a layout for your trails, the first thing you should do is clear the big stuff. Use a Hand Saw/Bow Saw (amazon) to cut down trees that are up to about 5″ (13cm) in diameter that are in the way. If they are much bigger then the easiest thing to do is go around them if you don’t have bigger equipment. Next thing is to get rid off any hanging or fallen branches that you don’t want on the trail. Move them to the side of the trail, use them as a border, or make an obstacle out of them. That goes for fallen trees as well.

Dirt Bike Trail Building Clearing The Trail
Clearing The Trail

After you get the big stuff out of the way it might be time to get out the dirt scooter. Ride over the trails to see how it is. Be prepared to make adjustments because you will often miss things. Different climates call for different actions. Where I live the main problem I have after clearing the big things in the trail is thorns and weeds. I find that it works the best to trim them just enough so that you can ride through the trails without getting too scraped up. The thorns in our woods can get really thick and tall, so I sometimes have to spend a whole day going through a section trimming them.

Kelley Fager

I help new riders learn how to safely ride and understand how to tune and fix their dirt bike in their garage.

2 Responses

  1. Jim says:

    Hi, Tom.
    I have enjoyed your articles. Both well written.
    I now have 5 miles of woods trails on my 75 acres in upstate, NY.
    Developing the trail network has been a learning experience, but a FUN learning experience.
    I share so much of what you discovered. Especially needing to ride rather than walk before cutting to have good flow.

    I’ve learned to use my GPS and Garmin’s Basecamp software to map out my trails.
    I do a fair amount of walking a new section followed by establishing a reference line with a compass so that I don’t wander way off course when cutting trees and brush.
    I also look for ways to bring in some challenges (especially where my riding skills need improvement. Logs, rocks, steep declines, off camber turns, etc. I try to keep these challenges do-able and not barriers to novice riders.

    And yes, having a group ride a couple of times a season helps break the trails in and identify the sections that need rethinking. Plus having a bunch of friends riding on my trails is what its all about anyway.


    • Tom Stark says:

      Great to hear from a fellow dirt biker that shares the same passion! Sounds like you’ve got much better/more land to work with for trails, so I don’t have much need for a GPS. Unfortunately, I’ve had zero time to work on trails this year, but I should have some next year.

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