Event Venue Guide

We’re on a mission to get trails closer to more kids! This mission relies heavily on our partnership with land owners, land managers and the local mountain bike clubs across the state who help develop and sustain our thousands of miles of Texas trails.

While one of our most visible partnerships for trail development is race venue development, we are also working hard to develop trails appropriate for non-racing events.

Mountain Bike Races

Saturday venue set-up and coach led course inspection 

Sunday Race Day

Non-racing Events

  • Team Practices (2-3x per week)
  • Teen Trail Corps (advocacy, trail maintenance) 
  • Girls Riding Together (GRiT) 
  • NICA Adventure 
  • NICA Coach Training 

For Trail Builders

NICA has partnered with the University of Utah to study which trail features present the highest injury risk to student athletes. Our courses are designed around these recommendations.

Mountain Biker on trails

Ideal NICA Trail Network

  • 10-15 miles of beginner-friendly mixed trail. 
  • Numerous access points and connectors for variable route lengths.
  • No mandatory advanced trail features
  • Mixed trail widths for easy passing and stopping.
  • No open sided bridges > 3 ft high.

Ideal Race Course Specs 

  • 3.5 – 5 miles of singletrack 
  • 0.5 – 1 mi, 20′ wide uphill start/finish (grass, doubletrack) 
  • Passing areas every 0.5 mi (> 6 ft wide) Complete loop with > 2 access points to the infield (no 2-way traffic) 
  • Minimize road crossings 
  • Max speed < 20 mph 
  • Closed to other trail users 
  • EMS access to the entire course 

Course Design

Course length 4 – 5 mile loop 15 – 18 minute laps ideal for varsity3 miles minimum; 6 miles maximum Any two-way traffic < 50’
Passing Available every ¼ mile (flat or uphill)4 At least 50 – 60% of course ¼ mile of passing at endPassing possible every ½ mile
Speed < 18 mph < 20 mph
Trail descents 24” – 48” wide 0%-6% average gradeDouble track or fireroad ≤ 10% for ≤ 200’; ≤ 15% for ≤ 100’
Trail flats and climbs double track or fire road for passing 0% – 6% average grade15% maximum grade for < 100’ Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap5
Elevation gain ≤ 100’ – 200’ per mile Similar to league practice and race areas600’ maximum per lap6
Vehicular road crossings No crossings Limited crossings; crossing traffic < 30 MPH
Access points As many as possible Every ¼ – ½ mile
Public trail access Trail access on the course itself closed to public during race dayMay request the public avoid trails.
Obstacles Unavoidable obstacles 2” or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present.Unavoidable obstacles 8” or less. Avoidable obstacles may be present. Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap
Technical Trail Features (TTF)Bypass routes available so race can tape off featuresBypass routes available so race can tape off features
Bridges Railings with top rails angled away from handlebars; rub rail; entrance and exit should be straight onto and off bridge≥ 18” tall must have railings with rub rails7
Water crossings ≤ 2” deep Easy to cross; Predictable water level≤ 8” deep Maintain ≤ 4 inclusivity points per lap


Infield is what we call the area with our sponsors, registration tent and start/finish.

4R Ranch Race Setup

Ideal Infield

Our races have 100+ athletes out on the course at a time with some waves of racers starting at the same time others are finishing. We’ve developed a few guidelines that help ensure this size of race runs smoothly.

Parking1.5 cars per expected racer 9’ x 20’ per vehicle for field parking 20’ lanes for driving between spacesLeague dependant 1.5 acres minimum for small new league 5 – 10 acres for larger leagues
Finish line 16’ – 20’ wide 100’ – 200’ straight shot into finish Uphill, flat okay with grass surface16’ minimum width 100’ minimum straight into finish < 18 mph
Finish exit chute 90’ – 150’ after finish line ≤ 90’ for slow speed finish
Start line 15’ – 20’ wide 400’ straight chute from start line maintaining width ¼ mile or 2 min ride time before funneling into singletrack12’ wide minimum 200’ minimum straight chute from start line maintaining width ¼ mile or 1 min ride time minimum before funneling into singletrack
Staging Same width as start line 200’ – 400’ deep depending on QTY of racersSame width as start line Minimum space required dependant on QTY of racers
Feed zone 50’ – 90’ long 10’ – 24’ deep Uphill or slow flat terrain50’ minimum for slower speed terrain 10’ deep minimum
Pit zone 40 ft2 per racer minimum 20 ft2 per racer minimum
Reg/Vol/Merch/Misc ≥ 60’ x 30’ – 40’ 60’ x 30’ – 40’
Porta Potties 1:30 per racer1 porta potty (or existing toilet) per 40 participants
Course Marshal and EMS 20’ x 30’ Two 10’x10’s plus 1-2 vehicles20’ x 20’ One 10’x10’ plus one vehicle
Camping Depends on league estimates and needs, plus venue allowance

1 Most common limiting factor for leagues outgrowing their venues 
2 Depends on event attendance and whether used for camping
3 Course specifications align with IMBA’s green and blue trail designation, but also include other NICA specifics 
4 Passing zones can be spread out more if the zones themselves are longer 
5 Each moment that a new rider needs to put a foot down or dismount 
6 Shorter laps should have smaller total elevation gains which will also be evident in average trail grades
7 Unless the bridge width is wider than its length and at least 4’ wide. See bridge addendum for more.


We’ve built a culture around community of mountain biking. Part of this culture building has included our teams camping together at the race venues. This can look different for many teams – some teams are primarily tent camping and some have families with large RVs.

Ideal Camping

  • ~15 acres of camp-able space.
  • The league coordinates restroom and shower facilities if they are not already on premise.
  • Mowed grass or dirt is preferred.