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

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.

Attached document published March 2005

About the Author


To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

More articles by this author

More articles in this category

Ice Age National Scenic Trail: Trail Stewardship Notebook

posted Mar 27, 2024

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail (NST) is a thousand-mile footpath highlighting Wisconsin’s renowned Ice Age heritage and scenic beauty. The Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) and its partners can shape users’ experiences. As stewards of the land and the Trail, we can help users develop a connection with the land and create a sense of wonder — even pique their curiosity enough to further explore the Trail.

Winter Bike Lane Maintenance

posted Nov 25, 2023

This white paper provides collected best practices on winter bikeway maintenance as seen in US cities and around the world. The paper covers snow removal from bikeways, different types of de-icing surface applications and their advantages/disadvantages, and best practices for winter maintenance prioritization and scheduling. The paper also includes a brief discussion on innovative winter maintenance techniques either in use or in development.

Winter Maintenance Resource Guide

posted Nov 25, 2023

Who is responsible for winter maintenance—property owners or government agencies—and what are the challenges?

Trail Design & Maintenance

posted Jul 15, 2022

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

363 views • posted 07/15/2022