Mountain Bike Ideas

Members of the Northwest NC MTB Alliance and Caldwell County HS Mtn Bike Team along with local bike shop owners and riders make up the Mountain Bike Advisory Team for Valdese Lakeside Park. 

Ideas from their first Brain Storming Session:

About Building the Trail

Trail builders are all different. They have different styles, different methods. When choosing a trail builder, go out and look at trails they have created. Make sure it is the feel you want. Jim Horton and Mike Thomas are 2 trail builders attendees had worked with.

Walk the property to find features to include in the trails – a large rock, a special tree, etc.

Build for the experience – not the mileage. A back country feel is what most riders want – not constantly seeing other riders because too many miles were crammed in an area.

Build the trail for all levels. Add progressions, so each time rides come back they can “move up.” Use trail splits (alternate lines) – at times, easy goes one way and moderate the other; later moderate goes one way and difficult the other. This could just be for 10-20 ft.

Advanced trails are needed for riders to come back – or to even come at all! If a rider checks a trail listing web site and we do not have any advanced trails, they will skip.

It is OK for trails to be used for running and biking.

Maybe consider cinder trail for the greenway. Most were opposed to paved trail.

On the trails, natural features over man-made wooden features. Yes to rock garden, fallen trees with narrow cut out to pass through, ramp feature over tree is ok. (No need to put wooden skill features out in trail.)

Do not become a “flow trail.” This is a trail that is over manicured, too pristine.

Pump track will bring BMX kids who are different from Mountain Bike kids. Some man-made skills items here OK – skinnies, ramps, etc. Make sure Pump Track is well designed to limit maintenance.

IMBA Standards – beginner – 4 ft tread, moderate – 3 ft tread, difficult – 12 inces. Difficult trail – cheaper!

For an NICA race – will need 300 parking spaces. 240-300 riders come to the 5 race events. Middle School and High School racers. Connecting with DHS will be a plus.

About Signage

Name the trails – history of town, donors, etc.

Color code the trails, then use color and number markings on trail. Do not use mileage markers in case you add trail/move trail over the years. Number markings are about location.

Use natural blending signs – not cheesy paper or brightly colored carnival signs.

Trail signs to announce Daily Reversal. If you change the loop everyday, people visiting for a weekend or 2-3 days, can experience a different ride on 2 visits. It really doubles the mileage of your trails.

GPS coordinates on trail signs in case you need to call 911.

About Trail Closing

  • Have a facebook page or web site to announce closings.
  • Put signage/gate at trail to announce closings.
  • Not closing causes a maintenance nightmare.
  • Some trails impose a fine if rider is caught on a closed trail.

About Working with NWNCMTB

  • Town would sign MOU (Memo of Understanding) with Alliance to allow on property and what work could be done.
  • They would schedule a big work day each year. But local volunteers (FVR) would go out more frequently for small stuff.
  • They could create a “core group” assigned to our trails.
  • Some of them are trained sawyers and they are insured.

Other Features

  • Changing stalls at Lake James are nice to have.
  • Repair stations – good – could get sponsored.


Members Present at 11/30/17 Meeting: Scott Duncan, Gavin Smith, Jaxon Smith, Shawn Moore, Jack Brown, Michael Lowther, Sonni Dyer, Doug Knight, Beth Heile (absent Charles Abernathy, Paul Stahlschmidt)

Ideas after site visit – Sonni Dyer (Tri Coach at Queens Univ) and Scott Duncan (NWNC Mtn Bike Alliance) Assessment

Five core recommendations for the ‘opening’ phase-1: 

Purpose: To, cost-effectively, initiate use and get people visiting the park & to generate traffic, volunteers, community ownership, and donors. People generally volunteer, donate, and support what-is far more readily than “what will be”.

1)–Making the park-trails parking area be the cleared section, at left-side at the end of the water-treatment road

  • -FAR more cost-effective to level, grade, & gravel it
  • -utility poles there already for parking lot lighting
  • -this parking location cuts/clears fewer park trees
  • -easily accessible for local police to monitor immediately adjacent to road…especially after dusk
  • -larger & able to park 20-30 vehicles
  • -closer in proximity to the kayak/canoe launch & a future pavilion there
  • -easier entry-point/parking for emergency and maintenance vehicles & equipment

2)–Fence upgrade

  • -Consider an aesthetically nice (wooden) fence (& gate?) to replace the current chain-link/barb-wire fence fronting the water-treatment-plant
  • -consider moving it back 10, 15, 20′
  • -perhaps line the fence w/ trees, bushes, Leland Cyprus….etc..
  • -allows for widened cinder path that could be then stepped/tiered down to kayak/canoe ‘beach’ area.
  • -path to future ‘events pavilion’ is also accessible by this fence-lined path to the water/beach.

3)–Park kiosk & trail-entry point

  • -adjacent to the parking area….right at trail-head
  • -replacing metal-gate w/ vertical wooden piers
  • -presents kiosk at park-trails entrance
  • -has paper-maps available
  • -shows large map of entire park trails
  • -outlines future phases & project-groups for park amenities to come

4)–Trail signage on park’s interior “legacy” trails

  • -wooden directional signs that highlight “you are here” location on whole-park map
  • -color-coded or trail-named………ie: “Boundary Trail”….”Riverwalk”…..”Weaver’s Run”…etc….
  • -distance from parking area listed

5)–Basic trail Clean-up & clearing

  • -hunting shack removed
  • -bottle-cove cleaned out
  • -minor trail clearing of branches & ice/wind affected parts
  • -build ‘observation-deck’ on the high-point just above the proposed parking area, overlooking the lake.


The purpose of the above 5 points is to—using $ already available for amenities—present the Valdese Lakeside park w/ the most basic & fundamental beginning components.

These core beginning features then act as the “investment” to show the public the possibilities and efficacy of  future projects & highlight the “whats next” phases.

This gives people immediate incentive to volunteer, donate, and bring to life all else that Valdese Lakeside Park can become. Sonni Dyer