filed under: surfacing


Research for the Development of Best Management Practices to Minimize Horse Trail Impacts on the Hoosier National Forest

This research investigates horse trail impacts to gain an improved understanding of the relationship between various levels of horse use, horse trail management alternatives, and subsequent horse trail degradation.

by USDA Forest Service

photo credit: USFS

Typical topography and central hardwoods of the Hoosier National Forest.


Hoosier NF Trail Report Final


This research investigates horse trail impacts to gain an improved understanding of the relationship between various levels of horse use, horse trail management alternatives, and subsequent horse trail degradation. A survey of existing horse trails on the Hoosier National Forest was used to collect data on use-related, environmental, and management factors to model horse trail impacts. Results are analyzed to identify which factors are most easily manipulated by managers to effectively avoid and minimize horse trail impacts. A specific focus includes evaluating the relative effect of trail use level, surfacing, grade, and water control on indices of erosion and trafficability such as trail cross-sectional area, estimated erosion, muddiness, and incision. Overall, the Hoosier National Forest horse trails could be significantly improved by relocating or closing inherited trails that directly ascend slopes or are excessively steep, reducing the distance between water control structures, and applying gravel to harden trail surfaces and reduce soil erosion. A set of Best Management Practices for trails are included as a product of this work, with recommendations based on this research.

Published March 2005

More Articles in this Category

Volunteers for Outdoor Arizona Crew Leader Manual

This manual has been written to aid crew leaders working with trail work volunteers. It assumes the following priorities, in order of importance, for every volunteer trail work event: 1) Safety, 2) Enjoyment, 3) Quality product, 4) Productivity.

Colorado Trail Foundation Crew Leader Handbook

As a crew leader you represent the CTF. One of your main jobs is to convey the CTF’s thanks to the volunteers for their commitment to making and preserving The Colorado Trail as a national treasure.

Appalachian Mountain Club 2022 Outdoor Leader Handbook

Outdoor leadership skills can be developed and improved over time through a combination of self-study, formal training and experience. Leadership trainings are offered frequently by volunteers and staff of the AMC. The trainings range from a single day to a weekend. If you are looking for additional training, the AMC offers several courses each season through the Guided Outdoors program.

A Call for Expanding Trails Research

Trails research can help support trail management decision-making and funding by providing objective, quantitative information describing trail users, their numbers and demographics, preferences, and economic expenditures.