Trestle Bike Park Is Modernizing Their Popular Jump Trails and Building an All-New Tech Line

Trestle Bike Park continues to innovate as they rebuild jump lines throughout the bike park. Plus, an all-new tech trail is coming to Trestle.
Trail: Spicy Chicken. Photo: Chris Wellhausen, courtesy of Trestle Bike Park

Progression is the most dynamic aspect of mountain biking, and this doesn’t just refer to the progression that you can make as an individual by building and honing your bike skills. It also applies to the progression of the entire sport and mountain bike industry as a whole. Where once we only rode gnarly, rutted-out historic singletrack trails, now we can choose from a whole host of trail types ranging from rough and rugged to smooth, flowy, and filled with jumps.

Even the shape and character of flow trails continue to change over time. Over the years, trail builders have carefully refined their trail designs, leading to better-built and more sustainable trails—and it just so happens that these trails are more fun to ride than ever before. At the same time, rider tastes have also changed due to the increased capabilities of our modern mountain bikes and general popularity trends.

In the foggy mists of eons past, mountain bike jump trails mainly consisted of flat tabletop jumps that sent you long and low or sketchy gap jumps with massive lips and a high consequence for error. But over the years, jumps have gotten not only safer (or at least, less sketchy), but bigger and lippier at the same time.

In 2024, professionally built tabletop jumps often feature tall, steep lips, bigger tables, and knuckles on the lander that effectively make the landing zone a bit taller and longer. When a set of three new flow trails was recently built in my hometown of Durango, Colorado, I found it hilarious to eavesdrop on conversations on opening day.

“These aren’t tabletop jumps!” One rider griped to his friend. “These are MASSIVE gap jumps! How do they expect anyone to be able to clear these things?!”

While the jumps are far from easy (I’m currently running about a 50% hit rate… at best), they aren’t gap jumps, and they aren’t outside the realm of possibility. They just simply require a modern jumping skillset and a propensity for risking life and limb in pursuit of a fun time.

Rider: Eric Canfield. Trail: Five Points Rainmaker. Photo: Chris Wellhausen, courtesy Trestle Bike Park

Modern jump trails come to Trestle Bike Park

Trestle Bike Park has not only observed the slow metamorphosis of jump lines, but in many ways, they’ve helped set the standards for what a modern jump trail actually looks like. As one of the true pioneers of downhill flow trails and jump lines in the USA, thanks to their partnership with Whistler’s Gravity Logic trail building company, mountain bikers have been sending big airs on the slopes of Winter Park Resort for many years. Even though Trestle might be one of the original pioneers, they, too, need to keep up with the changing times.

“You go down to the Front Range, you go to Ruby Hill, Valmont, you see some really, really stacked up tall lips and landings,” said Devin Kearns, Bike Park Manager for Trestle Bike Park. “Those are all free public bike parks, and you see young groms ripping ’em and doing tricks. You just got to ask yourself, in your own bike park world, do we just stand the way we’ve been for seven, ten years, or do we start looking at a little bit more—I wouldn’t say ‘technical,’ but… we’re building jumps that are more visually appealing for younger and intermediate riders to know where they’re going. Instead of just blasting a flat table top [that’s 30 feet], they can see the top of the lip.”

After my recent visit to Trestle Bike Park, I was under the impression that Trestle was actively working to update and modernize their jump lines. And while this is true to some extent, the recent trail work is actually more of “an ongoing project,” according to Kearns. Reworking and rebuilding jump lines is essentially the way that Trestle operates year in and year out. With so many trails and such a short building window every year, they pick one or two trails to revamp and put their team of ace trail builders to work.

In 2023, Trestle’s trail crew completely rebuilt Spicy Chicken—a popular intermediate jump run—and Five Points Rainmaker—one section of the iconic top-to-bottom Rainmaker jump trail. “They needed updating,” said Kearns. He explained that the step up-style landings “provide better visualization to where you should be heading instead of just a really long flat table.”

Rider: Ross Soriano. Trail: Five Points Rainmaker. Photo: Chris Wellhausen, courtesy Trestle Bike Park

2024 Build Plans

Kearns and his crew will continue to push forward with their rebuild project, and in 2024, they are hoping to work on Banana Peel, Trestle’s true “pro line,” which was built over ten years ago. Unlike Spicy Chicken and Rainmaker, which are crowd favorites, to access Banana Peel, you actually need to apply for a special lift ticket and prove that you have the skills to hit the features and not get killed in the process.

“The upper half of that trail works really well,” said Kearns. On the lower half, “the speed is there for sure, but some of the features could be updated. They’re a little bit old school—a traditional whale tail and big dirt jumps, and stuff like that. So it’d be sweet to update that. It’s just really tough to get a machine in and out of there with the four-month build timeframe that we have.”

Kearns also tries to plan trail work across a variety of skill levels, so the park is also planning to revamp the Paper Boy trail in 2024. Paper Boy is one of the most-ridden trails at Trestle thanks to its easy jumps and approachable terrain.

An all-new tech trail is coming to Trestle

While Trestle will continue to revamp their flow trails in coming years, arguably the most exciting project in the works is an all-new tech trail that they’ll break ground on in 2024. Trestle only has a few true tech trails on offer, and adding an all-new, top-to-bottom tech line will radically improve the diversity of the bike park.

“Our tech trails are kind of varying, and we don’t have too many of them,” said Kearns. “We have really good dirt and we tried to utilize that as much as we can over the last couple of years. [We’ve been] searching for a really good zone for a good tech trail that would have everything that the locals are asking for—a good mixture of natural terrain, rocks, some jumps mixed in there, but not primarily a jump trail.” 

The planned line is a double black diamond trail that will be mostly handbuilt. Some sections—especially the corners—will see some machine work, but Trestle will be focusing on creating an iconic technical testpiece that locals and visitors alike will rave about. 

The scale of the project is ambitious: it will be an entirely new top-to-bottom trail beginning from the top of their newly-built Wild Spur chairlift. Kearns shared that they haven’t gotten to build an entirely new trail in a long time. “We built Dirty Dozen by hand a few years back, but it’s just a small segment of a trail.” The opportunity to build an entirely new line, after having gone through extensive environmental reviews in conjunction with the Forest Service, is a truly exceptional opportunity.

Kearns plans to break ground on the new project as early in 2024 as possible, but with such a short build window, he anticipates that it will take two full years of work to complete this new trail. It won’t be an overnight release, but the fact that Trestle has secured permission to build a completely new trail is a feat unto itself. 

From revamped jump lines to all-new tech trails, it’s clear that Trestle Bike Park isn’t willing to rest on their laurels as the best bike park in Colorado. Instead, they’re constantly working to ensure that they remain the King of the Mountain—not simply dominating the competition but helping to innovate trail-building best practices and lead downhill mountain bike parks and trail development into mountain biking’s bright future.

 

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