Feature Article - October 2009
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Blazing a Trail

Designing & Maintaining Trails for Today's Users

By Kelli Anderson

Plan for Success

Thanks to the research and school-of-hard-knocks-wisdom found in such groups as the California Department of Parks and Recreation, guidelines for maximizing multi-use trail success have been developed to help those interested in putting their best foot forward.

  1. Trails must be easily accessible to the public.
  2. Trail systems should connect residential, commercial and recreational areas to one another.
  3. Provide a regional approach to provide guidance to communities as they plan their trails.
  4. Trail designs should be taken into consideration for plans involving natural drainage channels, landscape corridors, rights-of-way and other open spaces.
  5. Surveys should be conducted to determine needs and wants of the community for both recreational and transportation aspects of trail design.
  6. List priorities for implementing new trails as they impact existing trails or regionally planned trails.
  7. ADA-accessible and barrier-free trails should be clearly posted on maps and signs.
  8. Trail plans should be included in the planning process for new transportation structures like roads, bridges and overpasses.
  9. Trail systems should strive toward a close-loop design.
  10. Trail design should include aesthetic, educational, scientific, historical, scenic and cultural points of interest.

For more trail design information visit the California Department of Parks and Recreation Web site or go to www.americantrails.org.