Danna Lambert Salida,
Professional trail builders who create some of the world's best singletrack
How did you start Arrowhead Trails?
In 1994, I was working for Boulder County (Colorado) maintaining and constructing trails. There were a lot of trailsthat needed a lot of work. Recognizing that we needed some sort of mechanized trail machine to keep up with it, I looked into purchasing a small tractor for the county. But when all was said and done, Boulder County decided not to purchase one since they were still in the process of acquiring land and not ready to do work on it.
We bought a used dozer and started a professional trail building company, Arrowhead Trails, Inc., in October 1994. We invested $100,000 in the company, and the first year we lost $22,000. The next year was a little better... we only lost $10,000. It took a good four years to break even, and it was tough for us. We were just scraping by. Now here we are nine years later and we're working on a $170,000 project to build 14 miles of trail over the summer. Needless to say, we won't lose money this year.
Arrowhead Trails is a complete team effort between Danna and me. I do most of the trail work and design, while Danna does the stuff that makes the business actually work and succeed. She runs the office, does the bookkeeping, coordinates events and is heavily involved in cartography and analyzing master plans. We feel very blessed to be able to work as a team on something we love.
What's the most memorable trail project you and Danna have ever worked on?
In June 2000, the town of Crested Butte, Colorado, wanted to rebuild an easy, multi use trail called the Lower Loop. Through a partnership with various groups in Crested Butte, we put out a solicitation for trail work volunteers. Well, within a day we had more than 80 locals sign up, and eventually had to cap it at 200 people. Keep in mind that Crested Butte has only 2,000 residents total! We even had Ned Overend sign up. With so many volunteers, we were able to build one-and-a-half miles of trail and two bridges in four hours. At the end of the day it started snowing, which was perfect because it set up the trail surface very nicely. It was an amazing day.
What do you and Danna strive for when constructing trails?
Two things: visual and kinesthetic diversity. Visual diversity means users see many different things on their trail experience, like valleys, forests, rivers and peaks as opposed to just going through dark forest all the time. Kinesthetic diversity is achieved by building a trail to give the user different physical sensations during their experience on the route. This is achieved by building things like jumps, berms, whoops, G-force drops, chicane turns and lots of direction changes. Visitors prefer trails with lots of visual and kinesthetic diversity, which means they'll come back and use that trail again.
The biggest thrill for Danna and me is when we're walking or riding behind someone who doesn't know we've built the trail, and we hear them say they love it. That's the ultimate, and makes us want to build more trails.
©International Mountain Bicycling Association Trails News Summer 2003.