MTB Optimized Machine Built Trails - Hybrid Machine 3-Day Intensive

McDowell Tech Community College

MTB Optimized Machine Built Trails - Hybrid Machine 3-Day Intensive

Old Fort, North Carolina

Workshop Trail Construction Project Planning and Design Project & Crew Management

You've heard the reviews: Lower Heartbreak in Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, NC is "a blast", "not flow, but it flows!", "Wow!", "So progressive for National Forest trail", "it rips!". The accolades go on and on. Check out the video:

Join Trase Sowell of Geosculpt Trail Designs who spent the winter designing and building Lower Heartbreak and learn how to build sustainable machine-built trails that are fun for all ability levels.

This is a "Hybrid-Machine Class"... students will have opportunities to operate our excavator. This is not a whole class where you operate machinery all day, but rather a class where you get time on machines both on flat ground practicing controls and in the forest bench cutting and shaping berms, rollers, drains and jumps. The rest of your time is spent learning hand finishing techniques and critiquing other operators.

MTB Optimized Trails – Machine Built - Advanced

3 Day class (24hrs)

July 17-19, 2024

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (8am-5pm)


The Trail Construction Industry has rapidly advanced mountain biking over the past 25 years. From the humble beginnings of riding fire lines and gravel roads on Mt. Tam in California to the extreme jump lines of Redbull Rampage, trail construction now includes very specialized techniques and equipment.

In this class we will examine sustainable MTB-Optimized trails with their special features and construction techniques.

Join Trase Sowell of Geosculpt Trail Designs as he shares his method of trail design, layout, machine build and hand finishing on features including: filter features, rollers, berms, racer tables and A-B lines. You’ll examine trail flow and trail speed as it applies to designing and building trails that can be ridden by both beginner and expert riders.

This is a hands-on class for trail builders, maintainers and land managers. The instructor will operate a mini-excavator while demonstrating and explaining machine techniques.

(This is a hybrid machine class. Students will have the opportunity to operate a mini-excavator on flat land for basic understanding of controls. Students who demonstrate competency on flat land will be able to bench cut and form trail features on trail. This is NOT a 100% machine class. Students will be required to hand finish trail with hand and power tools. At most, students can expect a few hours of machine time along with other training.)

Students will be instructed in all aspects of design, build, finish and will be participating in hand finishing of the trail including: feature shaping, back slope shaping, root removal, trail tread packing, drain shaping/water management.

Three days will begin with a classroom overview of these concepts and will then proceed to the field for hands-on work. Mountain bikers should bring their bikes for test riding features as this is an essential part of the process of building trails for mountain bikes.

The class will be held on private land in Old Fort, NC. This is an actual trail build as part of the Watershed Mountain Bike Park currently under construction.

Instructor: Trase Sowell, Geosculpt Trail Designs

Assistant: Jeremy Poore, McDowell Tech Trail School

Location: Foothills Watershed, Old Fort, NC

Day 1

8am – 5pm: Day 1 will consist of approximately 2 hours in classroom and the remaining time in the field

Day 2 and 3

8am – 5pm: Days 2 and 3 will be held in the field

Tools and Equipment:

A variety of tools will be used in this course including: rake, shovel, pulaski, mcloed, rogue hoe, lopper, hand clipper, hand saw, plate compactor and more. Tools will be provided for the class. If you have a favorite hand tool (Rogue Hoe, mcloed, shovel, rake, etc) feel free to bring it along.


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for this class includes: gloves, eye protection, long pants and long sleeve shirts, boots, helmets (up to 8 helmets are available for use).


Days 1-3 will take place on private land in Old Fort, NC. Participants will need to bring sufficient water (3 liters minimum), lunch and snacks as well as clothing to deal with changing temperature and weather conditions. Actual build site is not easily accessible from parking area, so plan on being at trail site all day. Instructor has current First Aid/CPR and first aid kit.

Dates of Class: July 17, 2024 - July 19, 2024

Days and Times: Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday 8am – 5pm

Length of Class: 3 Day class (24 hrs)

Total Cost: $71.30 Tuition


655 Catawba River Road
Old Fort, North Carolina 28762

Trail Core Competencies

  • • Construction Specifications
  • • Mechanized Trail Construction
  • • Trail Finishwork
  • • Water Management/Drainage Features

Relevant Trail Types

This event has passed

Started July 17, 2024
08:00 AM
Ended July 19
05:00 PM

This event takes place in Eastern Daylight Time.

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