In 2007 the National Center on Accessibility (NCA) entered into an agreement with the U.S. Access Board and National Park Service to investigate natural firm and stable surface alternatives when creating accessible pedestrian trails, including crushed stones, packed soil, and other natural material.
Trails provide opportunities for people to connect with the natural environment in a variety of settings and are places for all individuals, including people with disabilities. Individuals with disabilities have the same desire to explore nature and physical barriers such as inaccessible surfaces and routes can hamper or even prevent opportunities to participate in the outdoor leisure experience for people with a disability. The purpose of the longitudinal surface study was to evaluate a variety of trail surface materials, and their ability to meet proposed accessibility requirements of firmness and stability from initial installation and maintenance over 51 months.
The research questions included:
Results from the longitudinal study of trail surfaces included 11 different surface materials installed at Bradford Woods a unit of Indiana University and located in Martinsville, IN. All surface materials displayed varying issue(s) over time that may influence the materials performance and therefore the need for possible frequent maintenance. The implications of quantitative and qualitative data are that a trail composed of an all‐aggregate material, when constructed to specified parameters, could be maintained with little to no maintenance as a firm and stable surface.
In addition to the longitudinal surface study, an electronic survey was conducted of trail managers throughout the United States. The purpose of the trails surface survey was to provide qualified professionals, resource specialists and operations staff of parks and other recreational properties with trails in the United States with descriptive and/or comparative information about the status of construction practices of pedestrian/hiker, natural surface trails in the United States. Despite a sixty‐one percent survey access rate of survey invitees, the overall completion rate was extremely low. Therefore, the results can be addressed in terms of a general trend in types of surface materials used. The majority of trail surfaces were natural materials that did not use soil stabilizers. However, information on construction practices and maintenance issues was limited in the responses received.
Published February 01, 2014
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.
The growth in recreational trails owned by the State, Cities, Counties, and Park systems over the last 20 plus years has exploded. Most if not all efforts related to recreational trails over these years has been focused on construction of new trails. There have been little organized efforts in trail preservation and or preventive maintenance (PM) methods to extend the usable life of the trails. The agencies that have a PM programs for their recreational trails rely on treatments that started out as highway or street treatments that may have been modified for use on the trails.
This Trail Maintenance Manual was developed as a field guideline and procedure manual for Park staff responsible for the maintenance, construction, and operation of the Santa Clara County Parks trails’ system.