Minimizing Risk and Liability

Best Practices for Trail Stewards, Operators, Managers and Owners

This document is a best practices manual intended to give guidance and direction on minimizing risk and liability for persons with an interest in operating and maintaining trails. Specifically, it seeks to help trail operators, managers and owners, mitigate risk and reduce liability, that can arise from trail design, trail use and maintenance operations. The techniques discussed here are intended to be applied with prudence and due consideration of the particular circumstances of each trail.

by Alberta Tourism, Parks and Recreation Parks Division


Minimizing Risk and Liability 2013 03


Trails are an important economic asset to the recreation and tourism industry of Alberta. Trails preserve critical open space, and provide important transportation options and connections to different areas in Alberta. Trails and their associated activities attract both visitors and locals to recreate in Alberta. Their economic potential as highly desirable destinations, facilitate job growth in the tourism and construction industries. Entrepreneurial opportunities like restaurants, lodging, gift shops, and other local specialty stores often get built alongside popular trails. Small towns and municipalities are realizing the economic importance of trails and are utilizing the development of trails as a model for community economic revitalization and rural diversification. As trail usage and trail development increases, there is a need to equip trail operators, managers and owners with the necessary tools to manage and minimize the risk and liability associated with trail operations. Creating a safer environment for everyone improves the economically feasibility for trail groups to operate these trails over the long term.

Published March 01, 2013

About the Author


Alberta's parks inspire people to discover, value, protect and enjoy the natural world and the benefits it provides for current and future generations. This vision was set by Alberta’s Plan for Parks.

More Articles in this Category

Safe Routes to Everywhere

Transportation connects people and places. It provides access to jobs, education, shopping and recreation. More than one-quarter of all trips we make are less than a mile — an easy walking distance — and nearly one-half of all trips are within three miles — an easy biking distance. Yet, we make more than 78 percent of these short trips by car.

Better Bikeways — Innovative Facilities For Safer Bicycling in California

Bicycling has exploded around California as people rediscover this enjoyable, healthy, convenient, environmentally friendly and inexpensive way to get around. Many communities are working to create bicycle networks to encourage further increases in bicycling and attract new riders, especially in urban areas. Toward that end, some cities — drawing from successful international models — have experimented with a variety of innovative bicycle facilities not even imagined a decade ago.

Micromobility Devices on Multiuse Trails

Transportation in communities across America is changing with the advent of many small and light personal mobility options, which typically run on electric motors, such as electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes), e-scooters (scooters) and hoverboards. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) offers this perspective to assist communities, trail managers and policy makers in making decisions about how best to manage these devices on nonmotorized multiuse trails.