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.