Nature Trail Development on Small Acreages

The purpose of this publication is to provide an introduction to trail design for those who intend to develop trails for nature walking, hiking, horseback riding or ATVs on less than 40 acres. Some technical aspects are presented for those planning to expend resources for constructing trails such as around schoolyards or community facilities or as part of a wildlife enterprise.

by University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture


Nature Trail Development


Nature trails are popular for wildlife viewing, walking, hiking, horseback riding, bike riding and other outdoor activities. Land managers often design and maintain trails in expansive public use areas. There is increasing interest from home owners, business owners, wildlife enterprise entrepreneurs, school teachers, boy scouts, hospital personnel, parks department staff and others to develop and maintain nature trails on smaller landholdings.

The purpose of this publication is to provide an introduction to trail design for those who intend to develop trails for nature walking, hiking, horseback riding or ATVs on less than 40 acres. Some technical aspects are presented for those planning to expend resources for constructing trails such as around schoolyards or community facilities or as part of a wildlife enterprise.

Many trail design and maintenance features are the same regardless of property size. With proper planning and construction, nature trails can be designed to minimize human disturbance and impacts on wildlife, plants, soils and waterways. A well designed trail can aid in land management, such as through simplifying timber evaluations or creating fire breaks. Properly built trails also provide opportunities to teach youngsters about wildlife, forestry and natural resources.

Published January 2011

About the Author


As a land grant institution, the mission of the Division of Agriculture is to strengthen agriculture, communities and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices.

More Articles in this Category

Fort River Birding and Nature Trail

The Fort River Birding and Nature Trail is a universally accessible trail. It was presented with the 2014 Paul Winske Access Award by the Stavros Center for Independent Living.

Trail Design & Maintenance

For trails to be considered “sustainable” they must meet these recreational needs while providing adequate protection to the environment while minimizing trail maintenance.

American Trails Webinar - The Science of Sustainable Trail Design and Management

This webinar describes the three most common forms of trail impact, identifies the most influential factors to develop and maintain sustainable trail networks, and discusses methods for rating trail sustainability.

Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook

The purpose of the Highway-Rail Crossing Handbook, 3rd Edition is an information resource developed to provide a unified reference document on prevalent and best practices as well as adopted standards relative to highway-rail grade crossings.