To Finish Is To Win

American Endurance
Ride Conference

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AERC's Trail Master Course

AERC sponsors Trail Master classes across the U.S. In addition to teaching endurance riders the proper way to design and build new trails -- and maintain and improve existing trails -- we invite two land managers to attend the class with riders. Mornings are spent in the classroom. A written test follows at lunch, and afternoons are set aside for field work and getting one's hands dirty.

Those who graduate from the four-day course are certified crew leaders, and can go anyplace to lead crews in the proper way to maintain, build and design trails. By working together with our land managers we can build sustainable trails for the future.

Trail Master Courses

(Watch for updates!)


Interested in hosting a Trail Master course? Please click on the appropriate link below.

Hosting a Trail Master Class – Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

Participant Requirements

Attending an AERC Trail Master Class

Accident Waiver and Release of Liability Form

Trail Master Host Contract

We're happy to help guide you through the process! For information regarding Trail Master courses, contact coordinator Alex Uspenski,, phone: 440-413-6667

Course Description

Day 1: Trail design and layout. Course instructor Mike Riter stresses the importance of knowing the area first, both on foot and by studying topographic maps, which he calls "the trail designer's best friend." A good trail requires little maintenance because it is designed right. Flowing water, which accelerates the process of erosion, is the enemy of a trail. Proper design can avoid situations whereby the trail becomes a river during rainstorms. In the afternoon, participants learned how to use clinometers to assess the slopes around them in a scientific fashion.

Day 2: Trail construction. Attendees learn how to pick the proper tool for the job, when to use power tools, and how to cut trails into a slope. Riter also talks about how to build bridges and boardwalks, and when to incorporate switchbacks into a trail and how to do it right. He includes safety procedures for tool use, and teaches the best way to swing a shovel and not throw out your back. Very important!

Day 3: Trail maintenance. Although a well-designed trail is easy to maintain, most trails that trail workers will be dealing with have been laid out in a less than ideal way. If you canot reroute them, you will have to fix and maintain them, battling wind, water, and gravity.

Day 4: Crew leadership and graduation. The final day is where all that you have learned is pulled together in an outdoor session. The attendees each role-play "Crew Leader," using the language, tools, safety issues and teamwork with your class on the trail. At the end, certificates for those that completed the course will be issued.

Already a Trail Master Class graduate? Order your Trail Master jacket with our easy online order form! We have two options -- the photo below shows embroidery you can choose to have placed on your own jacket or vest ($50) or you can opt for an AERC-supplied jacket with embroidery front and back ($80) or front only ($60).

Updated 3/16/19