Get the skinny on trail types, features, and learn to understand your fellow trail enthusiasts using Timberline TrailCraft’s guide to trail terminology.
A ridge or embankment. Often used at corners to aid mountain bikers taking turns at speed.
- BLOW DOWN (WIND FALL)
Trees or other vegetation that have been blown down by the wind.
A raised pathway constructed over low or wet ground. Typically edged to provide clear demarcation.
- CHOKE POINT (GATEWAY)
A narrow point in the trail, which promotes the slowdown of users.
- CLINO (CLINOMETER)
Device used to measure slope or grade.
- CONTROL POINTS
Points of interest intended to attract or repel users.
Raised tread at the center of a trail creating a convex shape which allows water to drain from the center of the trail.
- DIRECTIONAL USE TRAIL
A trail intended for one-way use.
- DISHED OUT (OR CUPPED TREAD)
When a trail becomes concave in shape. The is caused by trail use loosening the soil, which is then carried away by water or wind. The will often cause further drainage issues.
The pitch or inclination of a slope.
A mountain bike crash that sends you over the handlebars.
- FALL LINE
The route providing the quickest path down a slope.
A shallow crossing in a river or stream. Sometimes called a “rock hop”.
- FRENCH DRAIN
A trench, often containing gravel, which aids in the redirection of water.
- GAME ROUTE
A trail route naturally used by native animals.
The rise in elevation divided by the run, then multiplied by 100. Typically expressed in percent change.
- GRADE REVERSAL
Used to encourage the sheet flow of water across a trail, rather than down. Sometimes called grade dips, terrain dips, or swales.
A gnarly uphill climb.
- HARDENED SURFACE TRAIL
Constructed via the usage of crushed rock or other agents.
An effective out sloped drain.
A strategic path through a difficult section of trail.
- LOGGING OUT
Cutting away and removing trees that have fallen over a trail.
- MULTI USE TRAIL
Trails constructed for more than one type of transport or user.
- NATURAL SURFACE TRAIL
A trail constructed via the use of existing natural soils and materials.
The decommissioning or closing of a trail.
- OUT OF RHYTHM SECTION
A portion of trail that takes an abrupt turn or is out of alignment with other sections due to poor planning.
A pointless up and down in trail design.
- RENEGADE TRAIL
A trail formed by users who have ventured off the intended trail path.
- ROCK GARDEN
A portion of a trail that contains large rocks.
The rugged nature of the trail, typically made of natural features like rocks and roots.
- SHEET FLOW
The flow of water over land in a thin continuous layer. Does not form into channels. Often caused by snow melt.
A narrow trail, requiring to be ridden in single file.
- SINGLE USE TRAIL
Trails built for one intended mode of transport or user type.
Solid, rock, or other debris which has moved to the inside of the trail tread.
- SOCIAL TRAIL
Trails created as users deviate from the intended or official trail.
A low point formed between ridges by the movement of water.
A reverse in direction, turn, or zig-zag cut into a steep trail.
- TRAIL CORRIDOR
Includes the trail tread and areas above and to the sides.
- TRAIL TRIAGE
A system used to determine a course of action for trail maintenance or repair.
The intended portion of a trail for users to travel. AKA, where the rubber meets the road.
Typically constructed using timber or rock. Used to direct water off the lower edge of a trail.
Channels rainfall or snow melt to bodies of water.