Photos by Adam Newman. Video by Justin Steiner.
About a month a go we got wind of a new opening up at one of the premiere bike parks on the East Coast, Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia. A couple of the Dirt Rag crew put in a tough day at the office rolling laps on the new Skyline trail to get some late-season product testing in.
When we got back we reached out to Brad Stone of 402Trails, who partnered with Gravity Logic to build Skyline.
Can you tell us a bit about 402Trails and the background of the company?
402Trails is a mountain bike specific trail construction company. I used to live at Wintergreen Resort and was a professional level downhill racer. I was approached by Wintergreen in April of 2002 (That’s 4/02) to help them design and build a bike park.
Myself and a few other friends came together to build the bike park and that started everything so, we have been building mountain bike specific trails for almost 12 years now. 402Trails consists of three to four employees and five excavators and three track loaders. Being a construction-specific company we are very fortunate to have a great relationship with the biggest bike park developer in the world in Gravity Logic. We have had the pleasure of bringing many of their designs to life over the past few years at places including Birch Hill Ski Area in Fairbanks, Alaska, The Bechtel Summit Reserve in Fayetteville, WV, Bryce Resort in Basye, Va., Eagle Bike Park in Eagle, Idaho, and most recently the Skyline jump trail at Snowshoe Mountain Resort to name a few.
Flow trails and jump lines are still pretty rare on the East Coast. How did the new Skyline Trail at Snowshoe come about?
Dave Kelly of Gravity Logic actually designed Skyline a couple of years ago. Snowshoe has been historically a very technical old school style of bike park and the resort saw an opportunity to capture a different audience and maybe some new faces to the sport. Jump trails, particularly intermediate level trails like Skyline, are great for that. Pretty much all levels of riders can enjoy a properly built Intermediate/blue level jump trail. I like to call them hero trails. Most any ability level can feel really good on the bike on properly built trails like this. Snowshoe went straight to the best for the design of this trail and our relationship with Gravity Logic, experience in this type of trail construction, and us being based very close to the resort brought everything together.
How long did it take to build and what kinds of materials were needed? Machines, wood, etc.?
The trail took us 81 days to build. That is longer than we had projected but we encountered rain on 43 of the first 50 days of construction! Almost the entire trail is elevated to stand up to the sometimes-wet conditions at the resort. We installed 67 culverts. We used four excavators- one 3.5 ton, one 5 ton, and two 8 ton sizes. We used two track loaders. I can’t remember the exact quantities on wood but there is a 100-foot long bridge/feature in there as well. It was a massive project!
How long is the trail and how many jumps are there?
Skyline is 3 miles long with 50 jumps with plenty of huge berms in the mix!
I hear it may eventually connect to the top, is that in the cards?
There is a design in place to the top and as far as I know the resort does have plans to build the last little piece above West Ridge Road to connect the top.
What has been the feedback you’ve heard about it?
Feedback has been overwhelmingly good. There really isn’t a trail anywhere near Snowshoe that compares to it. It’s a completely new style of construction involving lots of insloping and tread elevation and most people have never experienced anything like it. The resort saw their first lift lines of the season after the opening of Skyline so, people are stoked and so are we!
What’s next for 402Trails?
Next for 402Trails was a new jump trail in Idaho at Eagle Bike Park again working with Gravity Logic. Then we have plans to join our friends at the Bryce Bike Park for their end of season bike bonanza and try and shred as much as possible before cold permanently sets in!