- What does MORE do for trails in our area?
MORE maintains an amazing network of over 750 miles of trail in 61 parks in DC/Maryland/Virginia. We rely on a passionate and dedicated group of volunteers, typically logging over 15,000 volunteer hours annually. MORE has over 70 trail liaisons, with each assigned to a specific trail system. The liaison serves as the point-of-contact between MORE and the local park authority to schedule and organize trail workdays, manage the trail work volunteers, and gather and maintain field equipment during trail workdays. The trail liaison, along with MORE’s regional trail advocacy directors and trail boss, work closely with the local park authorities to develop new trails and maintain trails across the entire trail network. Trail maintenance includes clearing downed trees, repairing muddy/poorly drained areas and ruts, and summer trimming and mowing.
- What makes MORE different from any other advocacy organization or user group?
MORE approaches land managers with outstretched hands to help meet their mission by building communities in support of trails instead of demands to build infrastructure for our user group. We don't demand turf fields, lighting, security, maintenance or other infrastructure. We volunteer to build a community of trail supporters, volunteers and fundraising with an agreement to allow access to public land for sustainable, natural surface, multi-use, public trails. We are willing to do the work for free to benefit our community.
- Why do some trails have a lot of interesting trail features but others less so?
The trails maintained by MORE are owned and operated by a variety of government organizations including parks at the city, county, regional, state, and national level (Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service). MORE and our volunteer trail liaisons work closely with each park authority and landowner to manage the trail system. Historically, many parks operated on an individual basis, with each park manager having the major input in what is allowed. More recently, regional park planners will review and approve official changes and apply established guidelines. The individual park’s natural terrain also plays a role, such as rocky outcrops, as well as trail age. Years ago, many trails were poorly built, and as ridership increased, those trails gradually got wider and torn up. Finally, intended trail use plays into the options for built-in trail features. Trail use varies park-to-park with some catering primarily to hikers so that biking features need to be off the main line and obstacles are cleared to keep the path open to all users. Fountain Head is our ONLY bikes-only-park and a great example of what can be done when you can build dedicated trails for bikers only.
- Why do some trail features suddenly disappear and other suddenly appear and remain seemingly indefinitely?
Some trail features are removed by MORE as part of trail maintenance, and some features appear/disappear due to rogue actors. Official park authorities don’t approve of alternate trail routes or built features that are not part of the approved trail plan. Sometimes trees fall and an alternate route around the fall is possible but other times, the tree is eventually removed, although it may take a while depending on approved trail work and authorized equipment use.
- How come some trail systems rarely see any updates or new trail features while others seemingly get all the love?
This comes down to several factors, including park management, budget, and liaison engagement. The various park authorities allow different trail features depending on their trail-building guidelines and risk tolerance. Building a major trail feature can cost a lot of money in materials and labor; MORE fundraises to build and maintain trails where authorized to do so by land managers. In terms of liaison engagement, in some parks, our liaisons operate more as care takers, keeping things trimmed and in good shape often without much help. Liaisons are volunteers and time is a HUGE limit for most liaisons. In some parks, we are lucky to have volunteers that can put in hundreds of hours a year into trail maintenance, whereas other trail systems have a more limited volunteer army available.
- How come some states (i.e. MD vs VA) seemingly get more attention than others? Seems like quite a bit of new stuff is originating in MD as compared to VA.
Again, the answer lies in the diversity of park authorities that we work with to maintain and manage the trail systems, from city to federal organizations. In Maryland, Montgomery County has been very proactive in trail development and has a dedicated trail building crew for trail building and generating an inter-park connected trail system. Maryland and Virginia also have different rules for their Recreational Trails Program grants with smaller matching funds grants available in Maryland. Easements also affect trail options – some of our trails are located within power company, gas, water, sewer line, and communication easement areas, and all of these areas have different rules.
- Is it the responsibility of the Trail Liaison to coordinate with MORE about trail updates or is there always direct input from the land manager?
Liaisons work with park management to maintain current trails and work to expand/improve trails. They maintain a relationship with the park managers and respond quickly to requests to complete trail repairs and maintenance. Some liaisons may be asked to cleanup/remove rogue trails/features so the park doesn't say “sorry, no more bikers”.
- What's more important to MORE and the Trail Liaisons, removing unsanctioned work by rouge trail builders or sticking to the original plan agreed upon with the land manager?
Both items are important. Rogue trails and features imperil our continued access to trails. We work to adhere to the trail plan agreed to with the land manager, and that work unfortunately includes removing rogue features at times. We'd rather be working on fixing our current trails, making things more fun and more sustainable, trimming and mowing, than dealing with badly built lines and other rouge additions.
- How do I contact MORE to report an issue with a trail?
- How can I get involved in trail work?
There are many ways to get involved in trail work, you can email any of the trail liaisons from the MORE website in the park link under “Where to Ride”, we use the following syntax to construct the email address [park]@more-mtb.org. It’s easiest to connect via the link on the park/trail page on the MORE webpage. Most liaisons also maintain social media pages for their trails on Facebook, search for the park or mountain biking and you’ll see an extensive listing. You may also contact DC Advocacy Director, Maryland Advocacy Director, Virginia Advocacy Director, or MORE's Trail Boss to be connected to specific trail work you’re interested in.