10 Tips for Trail Design

10 Tips for Trail Design

There is a lot that goes into trail design. In previous blogs I have talked about the importance of trails in communities and designing for trail sustainability but there is a lot more that goes into the design of trails. Here are 10 important tips for trail design:

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  1. Determine the user of the trail. Will this trail be used for equestrian, hiking, biking, or some other activity? This will make a difference in designing the width of the trail.
  2. Determine what the width of the trail should be. The width will vary with activity.
  3. Make sure the surface of the trail is firm and stable.
  4. Survey the area, determine where a good trail could be located and take notes of any potentially harmful areas. Also look out for any environmentally sensitive areas. You will want to avoid those areas for trail building.
  5. Consider all seasons when designing the trail. Considering the vegetation with each season, how the trail will change with the season, etc.
  6. Maintain natural drainage patterns, you will certainly want to avoid flat areas where water will be. (flat areas can cause erosion)
  7. Consider changes in level, you will want to make sure the changes in level works with the tread slope.
  8.   Be sure to design the tread so its slip resistant. The trail tread can be built from natural materials or man-made materials.
  1. Design for clear trail corridor. Make sure the vegetation does not intrude above or on the trail tread.
  2. Try to protect the environment while building trails. Minimize impacts from construction and try to protect the surrounding environment.  

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Trail Terminology:

Environmentally Sensitive Area: An environmental sensitive area is a place where plants or animal life is highly valued.

Tread: The surface of a trail, on which users walk or ride.

Trail Corridor: Can be thought of as a tunnel through the woods. Includes the slope and tread, as well as the area inside the clearing limits.

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