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.