Of all the outdoor athletes I’ve known, none can compete with mountain bikers when it comes to enthusiasm for building trails—especially illegal ones. Pirate trails, rogue trails, bootleg trails, whatever you prefer to call them, they’re everywhere. They snake through the woods behind my home in a small New England city. I’ve found dense spaghetti monsters of trail networks in power-line rights-of-way in the exurbs of Boston. And wherever public-lands enforcement budgets are slim, there are renegade bikers carving out singletrack.
“They do a lot of work,” agrees Jody Chinchen, a district trails manager with the U.S. Forest Service in New Hampshire.