Get to Know the International Mountain Bicycling Association

What would you do without trails? 

The joy, the solace, the peace, the wonder. The camaraderie, the community. Where would you turn to watch the trees bend in the wind? To feel the sun on your face? To find your flow? 

A world without trails is unimaginable for many, yet all too real for many more. But, the need for time outdoors is catching on. Communities are craving more trails close to home.

More Trails and Counting

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) creates, enhances and protects great places to ride mountain bikes. IMBA wants everyone to have access to great places to ride, from close-to-home rides to iconic, backcountry experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has partnered with communities across the country and the world on trail advocacy, trail education, trail solutions and trail stewardship for more and better mountain biking for every body, everywhere.

By 2025, IMBA aims to partner with 250 new communities to create more trails close to home.  

Thanks to the decades-long work of trail advocates that continues today, there is a deepened understanding of the many ways trails add value to communities. IMBA supports community leaders as they build their vision for trails, and can partner with a community at any step in a trail’s process: advocacy, access, funding, assessment, planning, design, construction, stewardship, and beyond.   At the center of nearly any new trail is your local trail champion, a passionate local leader. These individuals—land managers, community officials, recreation professionals, and of course, mountain bikers—are working within their communities for more trails close to home.

Making Trails Happen  A great trail relies on a great trail plan. IMBA trail planners partner with local representatives to assess their landscape for trails and the community’s trail needs, then work together to develop creative plans. Like in Erwin, Tennessee, which recently opened Unaka Bike Park(Opens in a new window). The new trails add even more public purpose to watershed-protected lands close to town. In 2021, IMBA planned 927 miles of trail in 23 states.

Trail plans often give communities leverage for stronger engagement and fundraising. In Aledo, Texas, a creative new plan for a dormant tennis court(Opens in a new window) allowed the community to apply for IMBA’s Dig In program, giving them a platform and tools to fundraise. Dig In(Opens in a new window) and Trail Accelerator grants(Opens in a new window) have raised and awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars for trails since 2018, which has helped communities leverage millions more dollars in funding.

Often, trail or land access is a big part of the puzzle for trails. IMBA works with recreation and conservation partners, land managers, state and federal agencies, and elected officials to secure trail access. In Utah, federal legislation is required to better connect the Bonneville Shoreline Trail for mountain bikers throughout the Salt Lake Valley. IMBA crafted the bill(Opens in a new window) to see it through. 

It takes years for a trail project to reach construction. When it does, IMBA builds trails sustainably to last generations. Community engagement specialists partner with local groups to build trails together and educate communities on trail maintenance techniques. In Berkley Springs, West Virginia, IMBA and the Appalachian Conservation Corps are working on “Thunderstruck(Opens in a new window),” a new hand-built, black diamond gravity trail that, once completed, will feel like it's been there for decades.

Before trail plans, fundraising pleas, penning policies, and pulaskis in-hand, communities start with that spark, and need a vision for trails. To help local leaders imagine what’s possible, IMBA hosts Trail Labs:Foundations(Opens in a new window) and other educational workshops in locations where mountain biking and trails have transformed communities through improved health and wellness, youth engagement, equity in access to outdoor recreation, and economic impact. 

Trails Connect Communities  IMBA Local Partners(Opens in a new window) are the crux of IMBA’s ability to partner with so many communities coast to coast. These 200+ local organizations are behind the volunteer trail days, the group rides, and the mountain bike events that bring people together and help more people discover local trails.

Listening to so many diverse, local perspectives helps IMBA steer the national conversation on mountain biking. From federal legislation, to local Take a Kid Mountain Biking events, to national recreation campaigns like Trails are Common Ground(Opens in a new window) and Ride Vibes(Opens in a new window) that encourage respect, inclusivity and kindness on the trails, IMBA’s work is made possible and ever-stronger through these inspiring local partnerships.

IMBA is proud to partner with trail champions to support their vision, tenacity, and journey toward more and better trails, and is inspired daily by working with local organizations everywhere. Join your IMBA Local Partner(Opens in a new window) to be a part of more trails close to home in your community. If your town has an incredible trail champion leading the way for more trails, tell IMBA about their efforts(Opens in a new window). Follow IMBA on Instagram(Opens in a new window), Facebook(Opens in a new window), Twitter(Opens in a new window), YouTube(Opens in a new window), and LinkedIn(Opens in a new window), and sign up for IMBA emails(Opens in a new window) to keep up with the impact of more trails and counting in communities across the country.