More from the Summit Blog

SummitCorps Getting Their Hands Dirty In The NRG

Downhill Mountain Biking
Mountain Bike Courses aren’t your average ride in the park. (Photo by David J. Laporte/Flickr Creative Commons)

For the entire month of July, Arrowmen from all over the country will be visiting the New River Gorge (NRG) to help create miles — and miles and miles — of mountain bike trails. It’s called SummitCorps, and it’s going to be wild.

These Scouts will be in the NRG – one group for each week in July – cutting trail with help from the National Park Service (NPS) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). The NPS and IMBA have designed up to 40 miles of trails on 2 different tracts of land on NPS property. One of these tracts of land is next to the Summit and will significantly depend on donated labor from the Boy Scouts.

Rich Edwards is a Trail Solutions Manager at the International Mountain Bicycling Association and is helping to create the trails near the Summit. He spoke to us to give us a glimpse into trail building and what important work the Boy Scouts will be doing in July.

How Do You Build Mountain Bike Trails?

Rich said that there are many things you need to take into consideration when building mountain bike trails. For example, he always asks what is the landscape and topography like? He decides how to take advantage of the elevation and land.

He also decides what loop options will be available and the trail difficulties. After considering all aspects of the land and trails, Rich makes recommendations for the most appropriate style of mountain bike trail.

Approximately How Much Do Bike Trails Cost?

Downhill Mountain Biking
Rich Edwards and, probably, his front tire. (Photo by IMBA)

A trail system similar to the one the Scouts are building in the NRG would cost approximately $2 million to design and build, Rich said.

The cost depends on the location, landscape, length of trails and labor. Since so many Scouts will help to build the trails in the NRG, the cost for this build is hard to project, but their donated labor is incredibly helpful.

What Role Will The Boy Scouts Play In Building The Trails?

The Scouts that are attending SummitCorps are going to be an incredible labor source this July. The Scouts will work on hand trail construction turning roads into single-track trails, building rock retaining walls and switchback turns, and flagstoning.

“The Scouts are all going to get their hands dirty. It will be the hardest work of their lives,” Rich said. “The Scouts are laying down a legacy that will be rideable by their grandchildren.”

Why Do You Love Riding Mountain Bikes?

“I like the balance and feeling I get from riding. I love being in the woods on different terrain,” Rich said. “The balance of being on the bike … zen from being on the bike … momentum, the feeling of the ground, the smell and seeing the changes in the forest, bird calls, animal signs. It’s a great way to get further into the woods, away from other people, and it allows me to do something athletic.”

How Can The Boy Scouts Benefit From Biking?

“I have the opportunity to introduce thousands of young people to the outdoors,” Rich said. “I want to get more people to become conservationists and get them outside. It’s so much fun to ride on a bike. You’ll have a super-powerful and positive experience. You’ll bond with the forest and see the value of National Parks.” Rich explained that, “[New riders] don’t realize that they fall in love with the woods. They just like riding the bike.”


Follow the building of the trails and all of the Scouts’ hard work at SummitCorps, and stay tuned for photos of the trail construction in July. Oh, and share this post for some amazing footage of what a pro rider can do … with the right trail.

Until then, what do you like most about mountain biking? Where do you love to ride?

Connect + Share