trail building tips????

I have some woods near my house a few bikers ride there but i have never seen them only there markings!Anyway can anyone give me some pointers on making a smaller(eg lower,easier and not so long) north shore type stuff on my back door step??can it be against the law to make it? Phil do you want to help?

Yeah , I also have the plan near me, it would be illegal- at least tresspasing and depending what you did vandalism so it might be best too ask first. I dont have the link but you can get some tips from the people at whistler mountain bike park, which someone might have a link to…

You need an axe, a hammer, a big box of 6" or 8" nails, and a smallish chainsaw.
You will get in trouble if anyone catches you, as they call it criminal damage.
If they don’t catch you making it, you’ll find it pulled down before too long. The forestry commission certainly don’t like them!

Now, if you can get the landowners permission that’s a different story.

Like all construction the key is thinking in triangles, oh and remember that trees are much stronger than any post you can bang in.

When I was a kid, i helped a few of my mates (skaters) build a half pipe in the woods (without permission of course!). They found a really dense coppice, and cut the desired shape into the trees that stood there to leave supports. A lot of plywood was found hanging around a building site, which was nailed straight onto the tree trunks. It was remarkably sturdy, and worked well despite unsymetrical transitions. It caused much pain and amusement until it mysteriously disappeared after a month or two…

Re: trail building tips???

It can be illegal. I’m no lawyer and I know zilch about the laws in the UK, but yeah, you can get in big trouble for building trails on random land.

The North Shore Mountain Bike Association has some info on building North Shore style trail obstacles. Go to Trail Info >> Trail Tips.

The IMBA has an IMBA Freeriding Guide that has lots of information on freeriding and how to build trails and stunts.

If you build anything make sure you know what you’re getting in to if it’s public land or private land. You could find yourself in big trouble. Don’t cut down live trees. Don’t nail anything in to live trees. I see stunts built on some local trails that are nailed to live trees. That is bad, very bad. It will get torn down and deserves to get torn down.

Re: Re: trail building tips???

I just picked up the IMBA Freeride Guide yesterday and it does have a lot of info. I got it for free at the bike shop.


Re: Re: Re: trail building tips???

If you were an IMBA member it would have been mailed to you. :slight_smile:
IMBA membership isn’t just for two wheels.

In the UK there are a few relevant laws to do with illegal building.

Firstly, even if the woods are open access for pedestrians you’re probably not supposed to ride off bridleways, so you’re trespassing. This is a civil offence though, so it’s not like the police can haul you in for it. Also riding is unofficially tolerated in a lot of areas anyway. Basically if you’re allowed to walk your dog in the woods, this isn’t too much to worry about it.

Next up, if you damage trees, you’re potentially up for criminal damage. However, unless it’s a commercial woods and you’ve destroyed tons and tons of trees, this isn’t ever likely to happen to anyone.

The most important one though, is that the landowner of the woods has a legal duty of care to people who are in the woods. What this means, is that if the landowner knows there are dangerous structures in the woods and someone falls off them, there’s a possibility that the landowner could be sued for it. Because of this, if the landowner finds out about anything you build without permission in the woods, they’ll probably chainsaw it down.

The best thing to do is to try and find out about any legal trail-building near you, maybe ask in bikeshops, or ask local mountain bikers. However, it’s quite likely that this will not be north-shore, because it requires quite a lot of organisation to get allowed to legally build structures. That’s why only 3 or 4 of the forestry trailbuilding sites have got permission to build north shore yet.

However, if you’re building illegally, the most important thing is that it should be hard to find. It shouldn’t be near any obvious paths or visible from any of the main paths in the woods. You need it to be made so that dog walkers don’t come across it and tell someone. You should also keep quiet about exactly where it is and definately never post the exact location on the internet.

If you get told by the landowner to stop building, or if stuff gets torn down, it’s not worth building any more in the same location, it’ll just get chainsawed.

Practical things to remember when building

  1. Only use dead wood (fallen down), best is wood you got from somewhere else.(*)
  2. Don’t use really rotted up wood
  3. If you’re using a live tree as a support, if possible don’t nail into it, use forks in the tree as support points.
  4. Expect illegal building to get pulled down at some point, don’t spend too much time on it.

You need a saw, lots and lots of nails and maybe an axe. A chainsaw is nice if you have one, but not really vital.

Don’t forget, even if the wood costs nothing, nails cost money, so building shore isn’t totally free. The stuff in apparently had several hundred pounds worth of nails in it.

(*) Building sites often have skips full of wood going for nothing if you ask.

One other thing is that if you clear trails on the ground, as opposed to northshore, they’re a lot less likely to get closed down. It’s also much quicker to build than north shore.

Obviously it just isn’t the same and isn’t up in the trees, but you can still make trails that are really good fun to ride.

You can go halfway between full on north shore and normal trails, by building trails on the ground and building small stunts along the way, skinnies, see-saws, drops etc. This way even if the stunts get killed, you’ve still got the trail to ride. Low down stunts like that are also much much less likely to get torn down, as they’re much less likely to make the landowner worry about liability.


North Shore building is all about trial and error when you first start, just start building and you will get better and better at it. I have a little freeride park that myself and some of my friends have been building on my property…I won’t hit much of it on a uni, but maybe one day when I’m better I will :wink:

Here’s some shots/vids of my stuff, maybe you can pull some ideas from it…

Here’s a few vids…

I just saw a trail standards guide put together by Whistler. It goes over some of their standards for building technical trails. It’s a PDF document and is available here: Whistler Trail Standards document

One thing it mentions about the building of North Shore style stunts is to make the less skilled riders fall early. Put a narrow section or difficult turn early in the stunt and keep that section close to the ground. Less skilled riders will not make it past that section, or they’ll catch a clue that the stunt may be too big for them. Then after that little introductory section the stunt can get higher off the ground and get more crazy.

Yep, that’s a great building practice…we call it a CHOKE. We’re not always consistant about incorporating them but it’ an excellent technique

Of course the best way to get past all the legal business is to have your own patch. I have started (slowly) building a trail in the little field next to my house, its kind of a long term project…which means that if i get working it has the potential to be really good. The field is a pretyty good location. there are no trees but mud and steep slopes are plentiful!
Cumbrian folks would of course be welcome to come and use it once its good if they promise to be gental in their suing .
And theyd be even more welcome to help me make an effort and get some serious work done on it!

(he of no signature…yet)