MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST for GREENWAYS and URBAN TRAILS
Denver has 130 miles of
paved trails, open 24 hours a day and maintained for year-round use.
Snow removal begins at 5 a.m. after winter storms.
By Jed Wagner, Denver Parks and Recreation Department
Maintenance to be performed on a continuous, scheduled
- 1. Trail user safety
- Safety is central to all maintenance operations, and is the single
most important trail maintenance concern. Items for consideration
include scheduling and documentation of inspections, the condition
of railings, bridges, and trail surfaces, proper and adequate signage,
removal of debris, and coordination with other agencies associated
with trail maintenance.
|Denver's Cherry Creek Trail provides a streamside
trail through the heart of the city.
- 2. Trails inspection
- Trails inspections are integral to all trail maintenance operations.
Inspections will occur on a regularly scheduled basis, the frequency
of which will depend on the amount of trail use, location, age, and
the type of construction. All trail inspections are to be documented.
- 3. Trail sweeping
- Trail sweeping is one of the most important aspects of trail maintenance,
helping ensure trail user safety. The type of sweeping to be performed
depends on trail design and location. Trails that require sweeping
of the whole system will be swept by machine. Trails that require
only spot sweeping of bad areas will be swept by hand or with blowers.
Some trails require a combination of methods. Sweeping will be performed
on a regular schedule.
- 4. Trash removal
- Trash removal from trail corridors is important from both a safety
and an aesthetic viewpoint. and includes removing ground debris and
emptying trash containers. Trash removal will take place on a regularly
scheduled basis, the frequency of which will depend on trail use and
- 5. Tree and shrub pruning
- Tree and shrub pruning will be performed for the safety of trail
users. Pruning will be performed to established specifications on
a scheduled and as needed basis, the frequency of which will be fairly
- 6. Mowing of vegetation
- Trails maintenance personnel will mow vegetation along trail corridors
on a scheduled basis only where mowing is not performed by other agencies
or park districts.
- 7. Scheduling maintenance tasks
- Inspections, maintenance, and repair of trail-related concerns will
be regularly scheduled. Inspection and repair priorities should be
dictated by trail use, location, and design. Scheduling maintenance
tasks is a key item towards the goal of consistently clean and safe
Maintenance to be performed on an irregular or as needed
Jed Wagner was for several years the superviser of Denver's Trail
Maintenance Program. This article was written in 1999.
- 1. Trail Repair
- Repair of asphalt or concrete trails will be closely tied to the
inspection schedule. Prioritization of repairs is part of the process.
The time between observation and repair of a trail will depend on
whether the needed repair is deemed a hazard, to what degree the needed
repair will affect the safety of the trail user, and whether the needed
repair can be performed by the trails maintenance crew or if it is
so extensive that it needs to be repaired by outside entities.
- 2. Trail Replacement
- The decision to replace a trail and the type of replacement depends
on many factors. These factors include the age of the trail, and the
money available for replacement. Replacement involves either completely
overlaying and asphalt trail with a new asphalt surface, or replacement
of an asphalt trail with a concrete trail. In general, replacing asphalt
trails with concrete is desirable. (A discussion of the different
philosophies concerning the replacement of an asphalt trail with a
concrete surface can be found elsewhere in the Bicycle Master Plan.)
Parks Planning will coordinate all trail replacement, and the Trail
Coordinator will recommend trails for replacement.
- 3. Snow and ice removal
- The trails maintenance crew, with the help of the various districts,
will remove snow from all city trails as soon as possible after a
snowfall. The trails crew will provide help as needed to any district.
Ice control and removal of ice build-up on trails in a continual factor
because of the freeze-thaw cycle. Ice control is most important on
grade changes and curves. Ice can be removed or gravel/ice melt applied.
After the ice is gone, leftover gravel should be swept as soon as
- 4. Weed control
- Weed control along trails will be limited to areas in which certain
weeds create a hazard to users (such as "goathead" thorns along trail
edges). Environmentally safe weed removal methods should be used,
especially along waterways.
- 5. Trail edging
- Trail edging maintains trail width, and improves drainage. Problem
areas include trail edges where berms tend to build up, and where
uphill slopes erode onto the trails. Removal of this material will
allow proper draining of the trail surface, allow the flowing action
of the water to clean the trail, and limit standing water on trail
surfaces. Proper drainage of trail surfaces will also limit ice build-up
during winter months.
- 6. Trail drainage control
- In places where low spots on the trail catch water, trail surfaces
should be raised or drains built to carry away water. Some trail drainage
control can be achieved through the proper edging of trails. If trail
drainage is corrected near steep slopes, the possibility of erosion
must be considered.
- 7. Trail signage
- Trail signs fall into two categories: safety and information. Trail
users should be informed where they are, where they are going, and
how to use trails safely. Signs related to safety are most important
and should be considered first. Inform-ation signage can enhance the
trail users experience. A citywide system of trail information signage
should be a goal.
- 8. Revegetation
- Areas adjacent to trails that have been disturbed for any reason
should be revegetated to minimize erosion.
- 9. Habitat enhancement and control
- Habitat enhancement is achieved by planting vegetation along trails,
mainly trees and shrubs. This can improve the aesthetics of the trail,
help prevent erosion, and provide for wildlife habitat. Habitat control
involves mitigation of damage caused by wildlife. An example is the
protection of trees along waterways from damage caused by beavers.
- 10. Public awareness
- Creating an understanding among trail users of the purpose of trails
and their proper use is a goal of public awareness. Basic concepts
of trail use include resolution of user conflicts, and speed limitations.
The representatives should be easily accessible to field questions
- 11. Trail program budget development
- A detailed budget should be created for the trails program, and
revised on an annual basis.
- 12. Volunteer coordination
- The use of volunteers can help increase public awareness of trails,
and provide a good source of labor for the program. Sources of volunteers
include Boy Scouts, school groups, church groups, trail users, or
court workers. Understanding volunteers' concerns is important, as
are possible incentives or recognition of work performed. Implementation
of an "Adopt-a-Trail" program should be considered.
- 13. Records
- Good record-keeping techniques are essential to an organized program.
Accurate logs should be kept on items such as daily activities, hazards
found and action taken, maintenance needed and performed, etc. Records
can also include surveys of the types and frequency of use of certain
trail sections. This information can be used to prioritize trail management
- 14. Graffiti control
- The key to graffiti control is prompt observation and removal. During
scheduled trail inspections any graffiti should be noted and the graffiti
removal crew promptly notified.
- 15. Mapping
- Several maps are privately marketed and available for trail users.
From a maintenance standpoint, an accurate, detailed map of the trail
system is important for internal park use.
- 16. Coordination with other agencies
- Maintenance of trails located within more than one jurisdiction,
like the Platte River Trail and the High Line Canal Trail, is provided
by other agencies, in addition to Denver Parks Department. A clear
understanding of maintenance responsibilities needs to be established
to avoid duplicating efforts or missing maintenance on sections of
- 17. Education and interpretation
- Many segments of the trail system contain a wealth of opportunities
for education and interpretation. A successful example is Denver Public
Schools' Greenway Experience, operated for many years. Trails along
waterways provide good opportunities to teach and study concepts about
urban wildlife and ecology. Educational opportunities range from interpretive
signage to educational tours.
- 18. Law enforcement
- A greater law-enforcement effort might be made toward the goal of
a safer trail system. Law enforcement agencies should be aware about
the location of trails, and the types and levels of use they receive.
Sections of trail corridors being used by transients is an ongoing
problem that is not easily solved. Increased law enforcement awareness
will be addressed on an as needed basis.
- 19. Proper training of employees
- Properly training maintenance employees is essential to the efficient
operation of the trails maintenance program. All employees should
be thoroughly trained to understand and be aware of all of the above-mentioned
aspects of trail maintenance. Safety, a good work ethic, and proper
care of equipment and tools will always be the backbone of a good
training program. Employees must also be aware of the need for positive
public contact. Proper positive attitude towards public questions
and concerns is important, as is the conveyance of this information
to trail supervisors.