filed under: surfacing
Asphalt deteriorates over time and will require expensive maintenance to keep cracks and weeds and tree roots from making it unusable.
Asphalt deteriorates over time and will require expensive maintenance to keep cracks and weeds and tree roots from making it unusable. Concrete, though maybe more expensive initially, is cheaper over its long lifespan especially if there is any possibility of seasonal flooding. To build an asphalt trail right you have to excavate and put in several inches of gravel or road base, and then 3 or 4 inches of asphalt. This article provides a good description of the process: Porous asphalt shows advantages for trail surfacing.
Unless you're building a bikeway as part of a larger community trail network, most people would use crusher fines. The exception is if you have flowing water along or across it periodically. If properly installed with appropriate crushed rock (not "gravel") it looks natural, compacts well, dries out after rain or snow, is "firm and stable" according to accessibility guidelines, minimizes tripping hazards, and doesn't feel hard underfoot. This has all the facts for design: The art of building crushed stone trails.
Another article giving the pros and cons of different surfaces: Rio Grande Trail Corridor Study: Trail Surfacing Report
And the attached presentation is very informative but geared toward a community trail system and especially greenways along stream corridors.
These and more resources are available in the Building and Maintenance portion of our Resource Library.
Published May 2018
Building a Permeable, Low Maintenance Recreational Trail Along a Shoreline
In 2009, the city of The Colony planned to build a recreational trail (10 foot-wide, 3.5 mile pathway) that would run along the lake’s shoreline, contouring to its natural shape and providing residents with a picturesque route for outdoor activities such as walking, jogging, and cycling. The city selected the GEOWEB® Soil Stabilization System due to its flexibility to conform to curves, surface permeability, and low maintenance design.
Improving the Sustainability of the Appalachian Trail
The Appalachian National Scenic Trail (A.T.) is a unique internationally recognized protected natural area encompassing more than 250,000 acres and a 2,190-mile footpath from Maine to Georgia.
Research for the Development of Best Management Practices to Minimize Horse Trail Impacts on the Hoosier National Forest
This research investigates horse trail impacts to gain an improved understanding of the relationship between various levels of horse use, horse trail management alternatives, and subsequent horse trail degradation.
Pennsylvania Trail Design & Development Principles
A compilation of best practices and guidelines for the planning, design, construction, and management of your trail employing sustainable design.