Preventative Maintenance for Recreational Trails

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.

by Minnesota Department of Transportation

The goals of this research project were to study existing treatments, how effective they are, promote new methods, and promote regular scheduled Pavement Preservation Treatments PPT for preserving trail systems.

This research project consisted of two tasks. The first task was to compile a list of the currently used methods and products for preventive maintenance. This task also describes the treatments. Specifications and special provisions for non-proprietary treatments are included in this task.

The second task was to apply as many as possible of the currently used treatments and create test sections. Contractors and suppliers were also encouraged to supply new or modified methods or treatments for evaluation. The treatments were then reviewed for ease of construction, how successfully they sealed the surface, and the trail users’ opinions of the new surface. With the short duration of this project, all of the treatments performed as expected. Future reviews over the next three to five years will help to determine which treatments are the most cost effective.

The final chapter of this paper contains conclusions and recommendations for further research needs as related to recreational trails.

About the Author


Minnesota’s multimodal transportation system maximizes the health of people, the environment and our economy. The mission of MnDOT is to plan, build, operate and maintain a safe, accessible, efficient and reliable multimodal transportation system that connects people to destinations and markets throughout the state, regionally and around the world.

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