Few people are as dedicated to their regular workout routine as mountain biker Justin Brandenburg. When the New Mexico-based enthusiast rolled up to his favorite trail in 2021 and found it buried in deadfall from a recent storm, he knew he had to do something to enjoy the path once more. And so he started clearing the logs one at a time—all 950 of them. The process took about a year.
“Before” photos show heaps of logs stacked over the trail corridor. It’s hard to even tell there’s single track under all the debris. According to weather records, winds reached up to 100 miles per hour the week of the storm. The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) says those winds took down thousands of trees across all of northern New Mexico.
Brandenburg knew that the USFS had its hands full clearing other trails, which is why he took matters into his own hands. The route, a multi-use trail leading to Lost Lake in Carson National Forest, was buried for miles. But equipped with a chainsaw (and occasionally a few friends), he was able to dig it out. By July 2022, he was riding again, and so were other trail users.
For the rest of the summer, thank-you cards and messages flooded in from other mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers. And in October, the USFS issued a statement specifically honoring Brandenburg for clearing the Lost Lake and nearby Middle Fork Lake Trails.
While more than 11,000 dead trees have been cleared thus far, several trails remain buried. But Brandenburg isn’t deterred. According to a recent interview with Gear Junkie, he plans to keep on helping out with the trail work. He’s already got his eye on a new section of trail to clear—and a loop to ride when it’s done.