Project: Lower Corral Trail Enhancement Construction South Lake Tahoe, CA
The Lower Corral Trail in South Lake Tahoe has been reworked from a former straight line, sandy moto trail to a new alignment that ups the fun factor by 500%. The new trail includes over 30 purpose-built features for mountain bikes (and moto), including high-wall berms, rock jumps, tabletop jumps, rollers, and hips.
TAMBA partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to create one of the first trails of this type in the country in a National Forest. The project has been a huge success for everyone involved in terms of community support, partnerships, knowledge growth, and building really cool (legal) mountain bike features in the National Forest. BIKE magazine ran an online article last week that got a lot of hits nationally. You can READ IT HERE. There’s been more national coverage with mention in the Huffington Post about 5 trails that deliver stoke and sustainability. For more information on how the project has come together check out this video put together by First Track Productions.
The project was built over three summers starting in May 2014, with subsquent builds in June 2015 and June 2017. More than 200 volunteers put in thousands of hours of work into the trail! It’s amazing what can happen with strong volunteers, community support, and just a little bit of money.
TAMBA has been fundraising for the last year to cover the cost of construction. TAMBA contracted with the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) to complete the project. For a nonprofit trail organization like TAMBA, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship has the personnel, equipment, and experience to work on this project. “We look forward to a long and successful partnership while strengthening the mountain bike community from Tahoe to Downieville and beyond in years to come,” says Ben Fish, President of TAMBA.
The construction team was led by Henry O’Donnell of the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship and consisted of a mix of TAMBA crew leaders including Kris Morehead, Benny McGinnis and Kevin Joell and over 100 volunteers in six weeks of time. Oversight wasprovided by the US Forest Service LTBMU staff.
Background: The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) is a non-profit organization that has a volunteer services agreement to conduct work on trails with the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (USFS). The Lower Corral trail is approximately one mile in length and has a full design package prepared by Hilride Progression Development Group working under a USFS contract in 2011 and 2012. This design package contains a full trail plan and design details for new features to be included within the existing trail corridor.
TAMBA is taking the lead to build out these features and implement the full trail plan. In September 2013, TAMBA and the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) announced an official partnership to build the Corral Trail Enhancement project. SBTS has more than 10 years of experience building trails on U.S. Forest Service land and has the proper insurance, personnel, and equipment to lead this project. A formal contract has been signed between the SBTS, who will act as lead contractor, and TAMBA.
In the last year, TAMBA raised over $25,000 in private donations to help pay for this project. The money will be used to pay for labor, equipment rentals, and materials costs. All work performed will meet the design intent and criteria of the construction documents and approval of the U.S. Forest Service. This is the melding of two great non-profits dedicated to building and maintaining multi-use trails in the Sierra. The professional trail builders with SBTS will come to Tahoe and help build out the Lower Corral Trail jumps and features! Starting Monday, May 5, 2014, Henry O’Donnell will lead a team of skilled workers to build out what has been planned for the last three years with the U.S. Forest Service and TAMBA.
Details: Corral Trail is one of the most accessible and popular mountain bike trails in Tahoe for locals and visitors. The trail is suitable for everyone from beginners to expert riders. The trailhead also serves as a hub of the mountain bike community, close to the largest population center in Tahoe. Improvements to Corral made by the USFS in the past eight years have been primarily focused on increasing the sustainability of the trail. Now TAMBA will introduce new mountain bike-specific elements on the trail that will further elevate its status.
Lower Corral Trail will be reworked into a model trail with purpose-built features for mountain bikes, including high-wall berms, rock jumps, tabletops, and log rides. All features are designed to be enjoyable and challenging for all abilities, with the intent of developing user skill and progression.
Once complete, Corral Trail will be a model project for purpose-built mountain bike features on a legal trail in a National Forest. Corral Trail will remain open to all current users, including motorcycles, mountain bikers, and hikers.
The SBTS professional trail crew will be working side-by-side with TAMBA’s trail crews and U.S. Forest Service staff to build this new trail. Corral will be open to trail users during construction, although it is advised that people consider an alternate route like Incense Cedar Trail to avoid delaying construction activities. We are all very excited to be a part of this project and making something incredibly fun for the mountain biking community.
Timeframe: Construction will start Monday, May 5, and will proceed for approximately four weeks. The paid workers will be working 10-hour days Monday through Thursday.
Project Team: Henry O’Donnell – Supervisor, Lead Trail Builder – Henry O’Donnell is a famous mountain biker and trail builder born and raised in Downieville, California. Henry turned pro when he was 14 and also beat the legendary Mark Weir at the Downieville Classic the same year. He started riding mountain bikes at nine years old and has been doing trail work in the Downieville area for the last 12 years. Henry has worked outdoors all his life. He worked for a small logging company for five years, then went back to trail work. Some of his favorite things to do when he’s not working are riding mountain bikes, dirt bikes, and snowmobiles, hunting, and fishing. Here’s a video of Henry building trail and riding mountain bikes.
Benny McGinnis – Full Time Builder, TAMBA – Benny grew up in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina, and became involved in the mountain bike community at a young age through races, camps, and other mountain bike events. In 2002, Benny moved to South Lake Tahoe in search of deeper snow and steeper mountains. Since 2002, Benny has worked for Sierra-at-Tahoe operating snow cats. He is now the lead terrain park builder for Sierra-at-Tahoe. Over the last 13 years, Benny has constructed countless snow features and has been part of a terrain-park program that produced multiple gold medal Olympic athletes. In the summers, Benny has worked as a wildland firefighter and learned many forestry and leadership skills that make him an asset for trail building, in addition to his experience in operating heavy machinery.
Kris Morehead – Full Time Builder, TAMBA – Kris (a.k.a. Hawk) has been a member of TAMBA since its rebirth three years ago. He is a U.S. Forest Service-certified trail crew leader as well as a sawyer for TAMBA. He has volunteered on numerous TAMBA trail days. Kris grew up riding cross-country in the hills of Sonoma County before moving to Tahoe at 19 and falling in love with downhill. You can find him riding anything from downhill in bike parks, dirt jumps, pumptracks, cross-county adventures, BMX racing, to cruiser bikes around town. With five years’ experience as a professional bike patroller and trail builder, Kris brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to the Corral build team.
Kevin Joell – Builder, TAMBA Trails Director – Kevin is the current Trails Director and former President of TAMBA. He started mountain biking in 1993 and has been doing sanctioned trail work for the last 20 years on private, local, state, and federal lands. He is a sawyer and crew leader for both TAMBA and the Tahoe Rim Trail Association, averaging more than 50 days a year doing volunteer work on the trail. He also is the promoter for several trail fundraising events like the Tahoe Fat Tire Festival, Great Tahoe Flume Race, and Battle Born Enduro. When he’s not riding, building, or dreaming about trails, he works as a professional firefighter and has been involved in many aspects of the fire service and emergency management throughout his career.
Troy Morrison – SBTS Trail Builder – Troy gets paid to build sweet trails for the world to enjoy. He was born in San Diego and moved to Quincy in 1978 at 12 years old. Troy went on his first mountain bike ride in 2006 on the North Yuba Trail for the SBTS spring epic. After that, he started riding a lot and became very involved with the Stewardship. After graduating high school he went into the Marine Corps, where he was a forward observer for an 81 mm mortar platoon and a Desert Storm veteran. Troy worked at the Saw Mill in Quincy for years and even opened a bike shop. Troy has been married to wife Shannon for 24 years and together they have two beautiful children. Troy loves being in the outdoors, riding his mountain bike, and his extended family.
Ben Fish – TAMBA Project Manager – Ben is the current president of TAMBA and former Trails Director. He has been involved in the coordination of volunteer input and design with the U.S. Forest Service since the Corral project began in 2011. During the day he can usually be found in an office that looks out toward Van Sickle Park, working as a registered landscape architect for Design Workshop. His experience in design, construction oversight, and project management has helped move the Corral project forward.
Jacob Quinn – USFS Project Manager – Jacob is the Trail Engineer for the U.S. Forest Service LTBMU. Born in Truckee and raised in the Sierra Nevada foothills, he has spent his life exploring and enjoying the mountains and forests of California. For the past 13 years, he has designed, built, and managed trails professionally and can be found most weekends riding and hiking those same trails.
About the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association: The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) is dedicated to the stewardship of sustainable, multiple-use trails and preserving access for mountain bikers through advocacy, education, and promotion of responsible trail use. TAMBA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Originally incorporated in 1989 and then resurrected in 2011 after a hiatus, TAMBA traces its roots back to being one of the pioneering mountain-bike advocacy organizations in the country.
About the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship: Formed in 2003, the Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) is a volunteer driven 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose primary goal is the maintenance and enhancement of the trail systems in Plumas and Sierra Counties. SBTS employs as many as 15 full-time seasonal employees, all of whom are Plumas and Sierra County residents, with a payroll of just under $400,000 for 2010. In addition to a paid trail crew, SBTS has donated over 30,000 hours of volunteer labor to both the Plumas and Tahoe National Forests, maintaining over 30 trails and creating 25 miles of new trails.
About the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit: Over 78% of the area around the lake is public land managed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. Totaling over 154,000 acres, this land includes beaches, hiking and biking trails, wilderness, historic estates, and developed recreation areas like campgrounds and riding stables. The forest is managed to provide access for the public and to protect the natural resources of the area. The Forest Service manages the land in the Lake Tahoe Basin as a unique kind of National Forest, called the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU). The LTBMU is managed in many ways like other National Forests, but because of the needs of the lake and the relationship it has with the forests that surround it the LTBMU has special focus areas, including Erosion Control Management, Watershed Restoration, Fire and Fuels Management, Forest Management, Recreation Management. In many ways the LTBMU can be described as a Restoration Forest because of its strong ecosystem restoration roles.