American Trails Webinar - The Science of Sustainable Trail Design and Management

This webinar describes the three most common forms of trail impact, identifies the most influential factors to develop and maintain sustainable trail networks, and discusses methods for rating trail sustainability.

by American Trails Staff

American Trails Webinar PDF


American Trails Webinar The Science of Sustainable Trail Design and Management


A “sustainable” trail or campsite can accommodate the intended type and amount of use over time without unacceptable levels of degradation or maintenance. This webinar will briefly describe the three most common forms of trail impact (trail soil loss, widening, and muddiness) and share findings from trail science studies conducted on the Appalachian Trail and other protected areas. These will focus on identifying the most influential factors that can be manipulated to develop and maintain sustainable trail networks, including trail grades, trail alignments (fall line vs side-hill), tread substrates, and tread drainage. Methods for rating trail sustainability will be presented, along with sustainable trail “Best Management Practices.”

Published July 2022