Natural Surface Trails
By: Christina Hughey
There is no right or wrong trail, just the right trail for the project. Soft surface trails are a natural alternative to paved trails. Offering an inexpensive choice. One great thing about natural surface trails is that you can install them much faster than other types of trails. Although natural surface trails are inexpensive to build they do require more upkeep and maintenance to other trails. The upkeep is relatively easy to do and can be done by volunteers. It’s important to plan for maintenance and put that in place when planning for the trail. Fortunately cost go towards things like removing vegetation, and fixing drainage problems which can be done by volunteers.
Designing a soft surface trail:
- Pick your trail surface. With soft surfaces you have a couple different options such as bark mulch paths, and natural earth trail. The best trail surface will depend on the setting and what the trail is intended for.
- Choose the trail structure. Trail width is referred to the actual walking surfaces of the trail. Whereas the clearing width refers to the area kept free of brush and limbs. The clearing height means that the height should be cleared up to 8 feet. An overhead canopy of branches should remain to slow the growth of grasses and shrubs underneath of the canopy.
- Mind the wildlife and plants that will be affected. Try to avoid having people pick wildflowers or wander of track. These things can hurt the environment in the long run.
- Design for sustainability. A well designed trail can save you time and money.
Natural surface trails are great, providing the opportunity to get off the paved trails and feel emerged in nature. Whether used for biking, running, equestrian or just walking. These trails are sure to benefit you and your community!