Sharing a Passion for the Outdoors
McCall resident Dave Bingaman is a board member and Trail Coordinator for the Central Idaho Mountain Bike Association (CIMBA). In the latter role, he is project manager for the Payette River Trail, an extensive new trail system that will allow non-motorized outdoors enthusiasts – mountain bikers, trail runners and hikers – to do an entire loop from downtown McCall around Payette Lake on mostly single track trail. Bingaman estimates the total length, when all segments are finished, at roughly 33 miles. It’s an enormous task, shepherding all of the various organizations, government entities and volunteers toward the completion of a multi-year, multi-faceted trail project requiring significant fundraising. Our community is fortunate to have Bingaman leading the effort.
Not only are locals excited about this trail system (Bingaman says some local trail runners are already dreaming of a 50K-plus trail race) but having such an option easily accessible from town will increase McCall’s already high profile in the greater mountain biking community. The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) has awarded McCall a Silver-Level Ride Center designation, recognizing the quality of our trails and the community’s support in maintaining them. Such a designation is certainly a tourist draw. Perhaps McCall will eventually earn status as a Gold-Level Ride Center.
Bingaman was born in northern Indiana and has been residing in McCall since 1994. He has a bachelor’s degree from Whitman College, where he focused on resource management. Bingaman has been a long-time outdoors enthusiast, outfitting river trips, guiding on rivers for over twenty years, and enjoying backcountry skiing in the winter. He works as a USFS avalanche forecaster during the winter, and he was a board member for the Friends of the Payette Area Avalanche Center. Bingaman is state and nationally certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). In the summers he works as a carpenter.
Bingaman first started mountain biking in 1986. He and his wife Sidney are coaches with the local McCall mountain bike team (National Interscholastic Cycling Association, NICA), their two daughters also being mountain bike enthusiasts and racers on the local team. Acting as Project Manager for the Payette Lake Trail is the perfect blend of Bingaman’s skills and history working with various state and federal agencies on land use projects and his passion for mountain biking single track trails.
Three Phases of Trail Construction
According to Bingaman, building the Payette Lake Trail involves three phases. Phase One started last summer and includes the west side of the loop, extending the existing Payette Rim Trail north toward the upper end of Payette Lake. Phase Two covers the east side of the trail. “Phase Three will tie it all together, with signage and facilities,” says Bingaman.
“IMBA did the initial design on Phase One for the Payette Lake Trail,” says Bingaman. “Through their Trail Solutions program, they’re the pioneers of modern single-track trail design and building that includes new technical features with high standards.” According to IMBA’s website, “IMBA Trail Solutions is the international leader in single track development. Our wealth of expertise has allowed us to develop the current guidelines for the creation of sustainable, enjoyable trails and bike parks that have influenced land management agencies around the world and are frequently adopted as best practices.”
In 2017, volunteers were able to complete 2.5 miles of new trail on Phase One. Bingaman had hoped for more progress, but there was a month of insurance delays before crews were able to use chainsaws and other motorized equipment. Work started in mid-August, with over 500 volunteer hours through October. Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC) – groups of youth/young adults – helped with a nine-day shift working on two miles of the most difficult trail building after the trail was cleared of trees and vegetation.
In addition to more trail work on the Phase One/west side of the trail system, “scoping” work will begin for the east side section this summer. CIMBA has hired Progressive Trail Design’s Jason Strouder to help with Phase Two. “A section that we initially thought would go through Idaho Department of Lands property we now want moved onto federal forest land,” says Bingaman. That requires a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment. Strouder will tour the site with Forest Service representatives in June to get that process started, and a plan will be presented to the Forest Service in October. “Progressive Trail Design does lots of work in Idaho,” says Bingaman. “They worked on trails at Galena Lodge and Bogus Basin, so they’re familiar with the sort of terrain we have here in Idaho.”
If the trail does go over federal forest land, then the final loop route would be a mix of existing trails, old fire roads, new trails, and some pavement in town with options connecting to other trails, like the Fall Creek Loop Trail #107 just east town between Payette Lake and Little Payette Lake, a trail that was created on Forest Service land for the Xterra Race Series.
CIMBA will update their Adventure Trail Map series after the loop is completed, says Bingaman. Other good online map resources are the REI-sponsored Mountain Bike Project and Trail Forks; both will be updated as new sections are completed.
When all of the trail building is done, Phase Three – signage and facilities – will happen. Bingaman admits he’s thinking a lot about sign strategy, in part because there’s already some confusion between the existing Payette Rim Trail and the grouping of old and new routes – including the Payette Rim Trail – into one Payette Lake Trail. Some challenges ahead, but the sort Bingaman thrives on solving.
Bingaman says that CIMBA has been funding this project through grants and donations, including some major donors who wish to remain anonymous. REI has provided funding again this year; last year the McCall Rotary Club and the City of McCall LOT Committee provided some funding. A new source of financial support this year is the Lifetime One Track Mind Foundation. They have committed to funding ten shifts of ICC crews working on local Forest Service trails; a “shift” is a crew of seven working 10-14 days on a trail, backpacking in and camping on site if necessary. ICC crews will be (or have already been) working on local trails this year, including Goose Creek, Secesh River Trail, Loon Lake, 20 Mile, Bear Pete, Jackson Creek and East Fork Lake Fork trail in addition to the Payette Lake Trail.
Bingaman estimates the cost of scoping and construction for west side Payette Lake Trail project to be $264,000 plus another $140,000 for the ICC crews. CIMBA is waiting to hear about a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation’s Recreational Trails Program. CIMBA committed matching funds, and if the grant is received, this summer’s work is fully funded. If the grant isn’t received, Lifetime One Track Mind Foundation has committed to covering the cost of the ICC crews and any shortfalls in grant and local funding for the Payette Lake Trail. Costs for the east side of the trail is yet to be determined.
Getting the Work Done
CIMBA partners with the U.S. Forest Service, Central Idaho Trail Riders Alliance (CITRA), and the local NICA mountain bike team to do work on local trails. Bingaman views these sorts of collaborations as spreading the love around, working on Forest Service trails as well as at Jug Mountain, Tamarack and other local trails.
In addition, volunteer work days are important to completing the Payette Lake Trail. “Volunteers can help with hand-finishing behind the professional trail crew, which helps offset the cost of trail building,” says Bingaman. Soon, the focus of work parties will be finishing the west side (Phase One) of the Payette Lake Trail. Check CIMBA’s Facebook page for updates on the project’s status and information on upcoming opportunities to join a trail work party.
[Cover photo: Dave Bingaman doing trail work. Photo: Matt Ganz]