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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm building a few trails on my property (which is a giant hill) and am having challenges building good switchbacks. Are there any general rules on how to build a ridable uphill switchback.... ie -- what is a standard curve/radius and max rise/run that is reasonable for a mtb? Since the slope is steep & consistent, the switchback will have to be built up so the rider doesn't loop out and spin when going uphill. It sounded easy until I actually started building and I created an uridable beast... thus, before I start moving dirt again I wanted to reach out for tips/thoughts/advice.

Thanks!
 

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I think I can.
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A couple thoughts

Switch backs can be achieved many different ways.
The first thing is try and visualize the line going up and down, the natural flow for a riders is to enter wide hit the short side of the apex then exit wide. If you try and build dirt up it will fail as fill is never a solid base.
What we like to do is on the high side try an bench cut into the slope to minimize the effort needed to finish the corner, on the low side try and find the firm base on the low side and slope the trail accordingly.
Remember wider entry and exit both up and down will be your best bet, you will find that the middle of your switch back will almost be a single line going up and down.
Try and design trails for multi use to include horses which take up a wider section to navigate a corner, imagine how much space a large animal will need to make a corner and that may give you a better visual.

Trail building is not a science, soil, slope, and topography change in every region so build it using the features provided.
Every switch back we have ever built turns out to be twice the size as originally planed, so use all the space you can to make a sweet transition.

Good luck:thumbsup:
 

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Almost Human
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edenger said:
I'm building a few trails on my property (which is a giant hill) and am having challenges building good switchbacks. Are there any general rules on how to build a ridable uphill switchback.... ie -- what is a standard curve/radius and max rise/run that is reasonable for a mtb? Since the slope is steep & consistent, the switchback will have to be built up so the rider doesn't loop out and spin when going uphill. It sounded easy until I actually started building and I created an uridable beast... thus, before I start moving dirt again I wanted to reach out for tips/thoughts/advice.

Thanks!
Pick the spot for your turns first then build the trail between them.
For climbing turns, look for open areas that have less slope than the surrounding terrain.
Build retaining walls when needed.
Use rock armoring on the tread if you expect erosion.
Build plenty of drains and grade reversals to get the water off the tread.
Use the 1/2 rule until you get up the the base of the turn then increase the grade for the switchback and get back down to 1/2 asap.
 

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Thanks Scrambler

Those are great for ideas, I don't recommend Type II or III as they are designed for hikers only.
Quick question, what do you do if your not able to maintain a 5% grade or less?
 

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JOEMTBR COLORADO said:
Try and design trails to include horses.[/FONT]
F that! More like create obstacles at the trailhead to deter horses. Let them on your trail and you'll be doing constant maintenance. Definitely worse than dirtbikes.
 

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Rigid in Evergreen
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Lelandjt said:
F that! More like create obstacles at the trailhead to deter horses. Let them on your trail and you'll be doing constant maintenance. Definitely worse than dirtbikes.

I saw that and was wondering whether horse people were allowed to ride on private property now without permission... I know the horse lobby is strong, but wow!
 

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STRAVA!!!!!!
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I found a nice trick on my 29er on how to ride a switchback. Put your chest as close to the bars as you can when turning, makes it a bunch easier for me:confused:
 

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topmounter said:
I saw that and was wondering whether horse people were allowed to ride on private property now without permission... I know the horse lobby is strong, but wow!

Yeah, no sh*t. Let them find their own trails. Oh wait. That's pretty much every other trail out there.
 

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Just don't build those stupid 150 degree switchbacks you need trials moves to get through. What's the fun if you have to practically stop to get around them, or even get off your bike. There are some trails I won't mention that have just stupid switchbacks. They're not even fun to ride.

I wish every switchback didn't have a giant water bar either. I know it helps with drainage, and I'm sure some people like em, but it just interrupts my flow. =/
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the input -- so 5% grade is max according to the USFS site. The min radius isn't specified but looks like 10-15 feet (which is really tight, but probably feasible if the grade is 5%).

Almost peed myself when I read JoeMTBRs multi use comment... I'll be sure to design my trails for horses... I was thinking a hitching post and horse trailer parking in my driveway would be a good start :)
 

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edenger said:
Thanks for the input -- so 5% grade is max according to the USFS site. The min radius isn't specified but looks like 10-15 feet (which is really tight, but probably feasible if the grade is 5%).

Almost peed myself when I read JoeMTBRs multi use comment... I'll be sure to design my trails for horses... I was thinking a hitching post and horse trailer parking in my driveway would be a good start :)
<5% is ADA specs. Real world is avg. grade < 10%.

I'm sure the 5% is just a CYA.

Actually... now that I'm thinking about it the radius might be ADA also....
everything on those drawings is ADA...
 

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You can ask my crew, I don't go out of my way to avoid them. I like to remind people that they are a technical trail feature.

My theory is more on how people, horses, and bikes corner or just use the space. I use the same guidelines as the FS and IMBA, but I move the location of the center radius.

The next time you need to build one at BC let me know. If my travel schedule permits, I will show up and show y'all.

Greg
 

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splitter_66 said:
The next time you need to build one at BC let me know. If my travel schedule permits, I will show up and show y'all.

Thanks GM. If we ever need switchbacks in BC, I'll be in touch.
 
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