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.
If a hard surface recreational trail is in your future, you owe it to yourself to look at the benefits of cost, construction and long term reduced maintenance that can only come with a trail paved with concrete. (This article is sponsored content.)
Permeable Pavers provide stable, low-impact pathway through Rookery Bay Research Reserve.
The emergence of electric bicycles, commonly known as e-bikes, is a rapidly growing component of the bicycle market in the US. As a transportation option, they represent an opportunity to reduce vehicle use and emissions, as well as the physical barriers to cycling. For use on trails, they present similar opportunities to reduce barriers to cycling but, as a new use, present new challenges for trail management.
What is a sustainable trail? Building a sustainable trail system takes into account many factors. Most importantly, a sustainable trail should have as little impact to the environment as possible; this is accomplished through proper trail planning, design, construction and maintenance. A properly built trail will last for generations to come with little maintenance needed and will blend into the natural surroundings.