filed under: conservation
Results from a review of the literature and three scientific studies are presented to model and clarify the influence of factors that substantially influence trail soil loss and that can be manipulated by trail professionals to sustain high traffic while minimizing soil loss over time.
Natural-surfaced trail systems are an important infrastructure component providing a means for
accessing remote protected natural area destinations. The condition and usability of trails is a critical
concern of land managers charged with providing recreational access while preserving natural conditions, and to visitors seeking high quality recreational opportunities and experiences. While an adequate
number of trail management publications provide prescriptive guidance for designing, constructing, and
maintaining natural-surfaced trails, surprisingly little research has been directed at providing a scientific
basis for this guidance. Results from a review of the literature and three scientific studies are presented to
model and clarify the influence of factors that substantially influence trail soil loss and that can be
manipulated by trail professionals to sustain high traffic while minimizing soil loss over time. Key factors
include trail grade, slope alignment angle, tread drainage features, and the amount of rock in tread
substrates. A new Trail Sustainability Rating is developed and offered as a tool for evaluating or
improving the sustainability of existing or new trails.
Published November 2016
This manual has been written to aid crew leaders working with trail work volunteers. It assumes the following priorities, in order of importance, for every volunteer trail work event: 1) Safety, 2) Enjoyment, 3) Quality product, 4) Productivity.
As a crew leader you represent the CTF. One of your main jobs is to convey the CTF’s thanks to the volunteers for their commitment to making and preserving The Colorado Trail as a national treasure.
Outdoor leadership skills can be developed and improved over time through a combination of self-study, formal training and experience. Leadership trainings are offered frequently by volunteers and staff of the AMC. The trainings range from a single day to a weekend. If you are looking for additional training, the AMC offers several courses each season through the Guided Outdoors program.
Trails research can help support trail management decision-making and funding by providing objective, quantitative information describing trail users, their numbers and demographics, preferences, and economic expenditures.