Frick Park: Iron Grate Maintenance

A group of seven volunteers completed some much-needed maintenance on the Iron Grate trail this morning.

The jump leading into the split before Concrete Block was rebuilt to be sturdier, taller, and more in line with the curvature of the trail. Bricks were placed under the jump to create a more stable foundation, which will reduce erosion and ensure a safe riding platform. Additionally, the landing area was dug out to make a smoother transition, but will need to be groomed after the soil dries out.

Additionally, the crew dug a long drainage ditch that traverses the right side of the trail, which will direct water away from the main tread. The ditch follows the trail and connects to a large terracotta pipe, where water will flow away from the main path. Directing water away from the trail will reduce maintenance and erosion, and help the trail to dry faster when wet.

Thank you to the volunteers who bundled up and slogged through the mud to complete this very important work!

For more information about trail work in Frick Park, follow the Frick Park Facebook page.

2018 Steward Training Day Results

The Steward Training Day was a huge success! A total of 34 participants came out to North Park to learn about trail stewardship, trail building, and how Trail Pittsburgh gets work done. Current and future stewards, Park Rangers, Trail Pittsburgh Board members, and an amazing group of Girl Scouts put in some serious work.

Max Bader of the Allegheny County Park Rangers presented on sustainable trail building techniques, and provided hands-on instruction with the help of Dave Biber, founder of Trail Pittsburgh. Together, the full group cut a new trail to re-route a section of Lower Kotobuki. This new trail replaces a flat section near Smokey the Bear, and will improve drainage while decreasing required maintenance.

After learning about the various trail-building tools, the group cleared leaves, broken branches, and debris to create a clear work surface. The new trail was bench cut to create a tread that is roughly 24” wide and 150 feet long. The trail still needs to be smoothed, shaped, and contoured for proper drainage, but the heavy lifting is done!

Thank you to all of the volunteers who came out. Without your help, these projects would not be possible!

Volunteers by the numbers
  • 34 participants (total)
  • 10 park stewards and co-stewards
  • 5 Girl Scouts
  • 3 Park Rangers

March 18, 2018 – Steward Training Day!


Attention Trail Pittsburgh Stewards, Volunteers, and anyone interested in helping Trail Pittsburgh with trail work!

Join Trail Pittsburgh and the Allegheny County Rangers for a day of training on how to be a trail steward, plus learn about trail maintenance and construction. We will have a classroom presentation and a session of field work.

Breakfast will be supplied. Bring work gloves and boots! See the Trail Pittsburgh Facebook page for updates and additional information.

Muddy Trails – Freeze thaw season

Unfortunately due to poor trail conditions we must cancel our planned ride for Dec 24, 2017.   We figure this is an appropriate time to model good behavior as trail conditions this time of the year are hit or miss.

Most riders understand that you shouldn’t ride the trails when they’re muddy. Most riders understand acceptable riding conditions as well. Sunny…dry…go ride! Perfect. But what about this time of year? When is it ok to ride without doing permanent damage to the trail? How would you know if it’s OK to ride before you get to the trail? Understanding the freeze-thaw cycle can help you make that decision of when to ride the trail, when to stay on the road, or when it’s time to take a rest day, drink beer & watch football.

How it Works

As the temperature drops, moisture in the soil freezes. As most of you know from that forgetful moment when you leave a water bottle in the freezer, water expands as it freezes.

When this happens on a trail, the composition of the soil is pretty much blown apart by the expansion of the frozen water molecules. Then, as the temperatures rise, the ‘blown up’ soil compresses and, with water, makes…MUD. Nasty, slimy, slippery mud.

Factors Impacting Freeze-Thaw


The real issue is the presence of moisture in the soil. Even rain from a week or so ago can impact the moisture level in the soil & start the whole process. If the soil is dry, freezing temps won’t have much of an impact on the soil at all.


Air temps and soil temps are two very different things. Let’s say it’s 40 degrees for a few days and then the overnight temperature dips to 28 or 29 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of hours. Even though the air temp is below freezing, the ground temperature probably won’t go below freezing since dirt is a pretty good insulator. The opposite is true as well. If the ground has been frozen solid for a few days, having air temperatures above freezing for a few hours won’t be enough to thaw the ground.

Snow can be a factor in that it has a relationship to the soil temperature. Snow is a great insulator that can either buffer the warmer soil from colder air temperatures OR buffer the colder soil temperatures from warmer air temperatures.


A very common situation in Ohio is one where the trails are frozen until around 10 or 11am & then the increasing air temp and direct sunshine are given enough time to start the thawing process. Two hours can literally change the trail from a perfect, frozen, hard-pack to a sloppy, slushy mess. If you’re going to ride during this period, early is usually better.

COMBO Mud Story2

Make Good Choices

No matter how much you think you understand the combination of moisture, temperature & time, there’s no substitute for making good choices when you get to the trail. If you see that you’re leaving deep ruts and mud is sticking to your bike, it’s not OK to ride. It’s really frustrating when you’ve checked the weather forecast, packed up all your stuff, made it to the trail and then realize that it’s not in great shape. No weather forecast makes up for good choices on the trail. Be prepared to bail & hit the road, hug your local trail-builder and help preserve the trails for everyone.

Editor’s Note: This story was originally written and published by our friends over at the Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization (COMBO) and is re-published here with permission. Thanks to COMBO for the thorough explanation of freeze-thaw cycles. Check out the COMBO website here at



Dig in! – Alameda Park

Donate in December to help unlock IMBA funding

Trail Pittsburgh has worked in partnership with Butler County on the planning, design and construction of singletrack trails at Alameda Park. Over 20 miles of sustainable loop trails were proposed in the county’s 2014 Master Plan. Trail Pittsburgh has constructed 6.5 miles of so far utilizing both a professional trails contractor and a skilled volunteer stewardship team. Alameda Singletrack is a unique trail system of sustainably constructed, bike-optimized trails for different user groups and skill levels. Trail Pittsburgh currently has $10,000 in funding and materials to continue work through 2017. With additional funding and community support, the group hopes to complete phase two in 2018-2019. Once the singletrack trails are complete, a downhill trail, skills park and pumptrack will be added in phase three. Trail Pittsburgh stewards contributed over 2,000 volunteer hours in 2017. Alameda Park is quickly gaining popularity in the local trail community and is providing a tourism boost to Butler County and the region.

Make a donation today and help Trail Pittsburgh raise funds for this great project.

Donate Here!

National Public Lands Day at South Park

We sure could use your help again! Free T-shirts and Lunch!

Sept 30th 9am-12pm

Join Trail Pittsburgh, REI and Allegheny County Parks in celebrating National Public Lands Day! Volunteers will work on improving the singletrack trails in South Park on a variety of small group projects for all skill levels. No experience is necessary. All volunteers should be in closed toe shoes, bring reusable water bottle and gardening/work gloves if they have them. Tools and instruction are provided. Lunch and beverages are provided for volunteers at 12pm.

Be sure to register at REI’s website to ensure your shirt, lunch and beverages!