Interpretive Signs and Displays Along Trails

Trails and greenways create an opportunity to teach visitors about history, the environment, and the community

by Stuart Macdonald, Trail Consultant, American Trails


One of the attractions of trails is that they provide a close look at natural areas, neighborhoods, or wild places. This "sense of place" is what brings people back to a pathway. Many trails are specifically designed as "nature trails" to teach school groups and the public about a particular habitat or ecosystem. Others, such as the examples here, are just typical trails where managers have provided one or a few displays on local topics of interest. Many different kinds of signs are in use, from the basic plaque to large gazebo-style exhibits.

About the Author

Stuart Macdonald spent 19 years as Colorado's State Trails Coordinator. He is the editor of American Trails Magazine. During 1998-99, he represented State Trail Administrators on the national committee that proposed regulations for accessible trails. He chaired the National Recreational Trails Committee, which advised the Federal Highway Administration in the first years of the Recreational Trails Program. Stuart grew up in San Diego and his main outdoor interest besides trails is surfing. He has a BA in English from San Francisco State and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Utah State.

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