Bike Report: Maintaining Trails

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Duluth has 75 miles of multi-use mountain bike trails, all maintained by one group. Cyclists of Gitchee Gumee Shores, or COGGS for short, is a nonprofit mountain biking group in Duluth. The organization helps with a variety of trail maintenance, especially drainage work.

“Much of the trail in town was machine built and the way they do that is they run through the forest with an excavator and they create drainage along the whole trail,” explained Trails Director Ansel Schimpff. “So then our maintenance is going back through and clearing out those drains so that when it rains, the water will run down and off the trail.We also go through with weed repairs and clear back all the undergrowth and trees and everything that has grown over the trail.”

This work is done regularly by the group with weekly trail nights for each of the main trail systems in town. Additionally, some members of COGGS adopt small sections of trail and keep up with any additional maintenance needed. New members are always welcome.

“We also partner with the city for bigger maintenance projects, and having that big membership helps to get funding from the city for those bigger projects,” said Schimpff. “And then on a weekly basis, you can join one of our weekly trail nights and come on out. All the tools are provided and structure will be provided and they’ll just help you get out and help maintain a piece of trail. Sometimes we’re building fun little projects and sometimes we’re just clearing out drains.”

If you do not have time to volunteer, another way to help is to stay off of closed, wet trails.

“Our trails are getting more resilient every year,” Schimpff explained. “But initially, when a trail is built, the dirt is really soft, and so if we get rain, it gets saturated and then bike tires or footprints create spots where that water will just sit and then erode the trail, which creates more maintenance in the future. You can do a lot of damage with just one person riding through it.”

Every Thursday, WDIO News will bring you a story about the sport of bike riding. We will focus on the trail systems in our viewing area as well as equipment and bike maintenance.

If you have a biking story that you think we should cover, e-mail Sabrina Ullman at