Pathways to Trail Building

by Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation

The intent of this 4th edition of a Tennessee Recreation Trails Manual is to help understand the dynamics of designing and building non-motorized trails.

Pathways to Trail Building

The intent of this 4th edition of a Tennessee Recreation Trails Manual is to help understand the dynamics of designing and building non-motorized trails. Trail builders will learn the joy of discovering new places and the feelings of accomplishment from walking back over a newly constructed section of trail. This manual is just one of many resources that government agencies and non-government organizations have developed to promote the art and science of trail building. An index of resources can be found at the back of this document.

The goal of trail building is to create a long-term relationship between humans and nature. This is only possible through a clear understanding of the needs of each trail related agency laced with a healthy dose of day-to-day reality. Planning and responsibility are the keys to success. Learning how to build a trail is an ongoing, never ending process with each section of trail to be constructed a new challenge.

The trail designer/constructor learns over time the nuances of the forest, rocks and streams and how important it is to build a sustainable trail that is easy to maintain and becomes a natural part of the landscape. Sustainable trails minimize environmental impacts, are easy to travel and reduce future trail operation and maintenance costs.

Published March 01, 2007

More Articles in this Category

A Comparison of Environmental Impacts from Mountain Bicycles, Class 1 Electric Mountain Bicycles, and Motorcycles

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.

Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation

The 2016-2021 Strategic Agenda for Pedestrian and Bicycle Transportation builds on 25 years of progress toward increasing walking and biking safety and activity throughout the United States. The 1994 National Bicycling and Walking Study: Transportation Choices for Changing America set the stage for advancing safe, accessible, comfortable, and well-used pedestrian and bicycle transportation networks, with a focus on increasing trips and reducing injuries and fatalities.

CDTC New Vision Bicycle and Pedestrian Action Plan

This document will review CDTC’s accomplishments in improving the bicycle and pedestrian travel environment throughout the region and identify any shortfalls. It will propose new goals, with a focus on improving the health and increasing economic activity in the region related to bicycling and walking. The document also includes an implementation plan to help CDTC prioritize bicycle and pedestrian programs, projects and initiatives to have the greatest regional impact and achieve the most goals. This updated document has been renamed the Bicycle and Pedestrian Action Plan.

Sustainable Trail Development

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.