By Matt Chappell
Have you heard of Truckee Dirt Union yet? The actions of this nonprofit group — which several local riders and I founded in 2020 — have been somewhat stealth, but the results are being traversed by hundreds of happy knobby tires every day, especially on Donkey Town Trail (formerly Jackass Trail). I’m writing to let you know why I’m backing the Truckee Dirt Union, and to encourage you to take the time as we get into our colder weeks of riding to join the group that’s working with agencies and local trail builders to make mountain biking trails in Truckee great.
Donkey Town Trail is regarded as Truckee’s premiere mountain bike flow trail featuring rollable jumps, chicanes, and bermed turns. It has a 30-year, cartoon-inspired history all its own, and is located just minutes from Historic Downtown Truckee. Since 2020, the Truckee Dirt Union’s Volunteer Trail Force has focused specifically on maintaining and improving Donkey Trail on weekly intervals, keeping it in tip-top shape each breaking day. That’s why it has been riding so well.
Our trails definitely need the kind of maintenance Truckee Dirt Union provides. Mountain biking has hit an all-time boom in participants, and our fabled and shreddy singletrack trails like Donkey Town are seeing mind-bending usage numbers resulting in an incredible increase in erosion and degradation. In a recent effort on Donkey Town, Truckee Dirt Union tracked 2,474 ride laps over a 16-day period in October. And that was just the shoulder season. The trend has continued with bike shop proliferation. Just look at many local ski shops and you’re likely to find a bike shop inside front and center with a new added tagline “ski & bike” etched into the streetside sign.
Such incredible usage creates issues that need to be dealt with if we want the trails to continue to ride so well. For example, a trail needs to be accessible, safe — and of course fun. It therefore needs consistent trail maintenance to work on it regularly, as well as solid liaisons to communicate with the agencies that manage the land to keep the groups in sync.
Truckee Dirt Union solves these problems by stoking community stewardship with its innovative, skilled, and passionate 500-member Volunteer Trail Force. The group activates every month for on-trail improvement projects, group rides, and trail building event collaborations with other trail stewardship groups.
Founded from the heart and soul of Truckee’s mountain bike community, Truckee Dirt Union is a 501(c)(3) organization creating positive outcomes for mountain biking. It is run by a volunteer board of long-standing residents who have cultivated synergy between local trail builders and land managers to help improve mountain biking to an all-time best for the Truckee community.
Truckee Dirt Union has honed, polished, inspired, and improved the town’s lunch-lap mountain bike dream, and the energy is contagious. I back the Truckee Dirt Union for helping create a positive shift for mountain biking in the community.
You can make a difference in the quality of our trails, too. Join the Truckee Dirt Union to learn more: truckeedirtunion.org. And find us on social media.
~ Matt Chappell moved to Truckee in 1997 on a winter’s dream, and for the past 13 years he’s led the design team at OLAB, a Truckee-based visual design studio located in Gray’s Cabin. In 2020, he became a founding member of the Truckee Dirt Union, a passionate group of local mountain bikers who are working voluntarily to cultivate “Singletrack Radness” in Truckee.
Matt and TDU have been killing it for the Truckee mountain bike community. The trails and corresponding maintenance are world class and with our support they can put even more trails in for an ever growing rider group. If you ride a bike in the Truckee Tahoe area please join and support TDU!
Huge fan of the work done here and thank you Truckee Dirt Union for all you do. Raising a family on the trails around Truckee and we’re so grateful for the continued effort.
Thanks for keeping it real out there TDU! Donkey town has improved a ton over the last few years. The one work day I made it up for from South Lake was a blast. Met cool people and ate great za after playing in the dirt. Keep the stoke thriving!
Tastefully understated. TDU makes legit trails happen that are fun to ride.
Super appreciate the impact you’re having on our riding and the opportunity to get involved with trail building. Thank you 🙏
The mountain bike culture is shifting, with more and more people wanting to participate and less and less land available. Truckee Dirt Union is growing the mountain bike community in Truckee in a tasteful and sustainable way. The energy and community building the primarily volunteer-led group shows is contagious and will only continue to grow and prosper.
Super covert. There’s always improvements to the trails that seamingly pop out of nowhere. TDU is doing it the right way and speak with actions.
This big boom of mtb has been hard on the trails, yet they stay maintained. Matt and the TDU capture the psyche of the mountain bike community and keep it sustainable. Thankful for all the work they do.
Awesome article. TDU fills a critical void in our North Tahoe trail community. Great to have such authentic, innovative voice and informed action from people who understand mountain biking and what makes it so awesome. Hoping you guys get an opportunity to tune and more of our local trails. I am grateful for TDU!
It is organizations like Truckee Dirt Union with so many passionate volunteers who truly “Take Care” of our environment, our community and our visitors with impressive trail work. Thank you Matt and everyone who is helping Truckee be a welcoming “Trails for EveryBODY” kind of town.
The Truckee Dirt Union has figured out the right way to build and maintain trails to make them accessible and enjoyable for riders of all ages and abilities. Donkey Town is clearly the most popular trail network in the greater Truckee area; a clear attribution to the TDU’s dedication to excellent trail design and tireless maintenance and upkeep. Additionally, TDU’s efforts to build relationships across all user and stakeholder groups is a model for community collaboration.
Thank You Matt and TDU for the great work you are doing! I hope all stakeholders will continue to collaborate and build more trail radness to share with friends, family, and our youth.