Trail Planning, Design & Development Guidelines

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

This 300-page spiral-bound publication, several years in the making, provides a first-ever comprehensive "how-to" guidebook for developing all types of recreational trails.

by Minnesota Department of Natural Resources


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is pleased to announce the completion of its much anticipated "Trail Planning, Design & Development Guidelines". This new 300-page spiral-bound publication, several years in the making, provides a first-ever comprehensive "how-to" guidebook for developing all types of recreational trails. These "best practices" for professonal trail builders are intended to aid Minnesota land managers in applying new, innovative and environmentally sustainable approaches to trail planning, design and construction.

According to Pete Webber, Special Projects Director with the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) of Boulder, Colorado, the new publication is among the very best. He noted that "by detailing a variety of trails from greenways to single-track, Minnesota's new trail manual provides an impressive range of information in one of the most complete and helpful planning resources available". Long a leader in natural-surface trail design, IMBA, who served as a consultant on this project, has also just released it's fourth in a series of highly-acclaimed Trail Design Guides entitled: "Managing Mountian Biking", aimed at mountain bike trail builders and trail managers.

Development of the Minnesota Trail Guidelines was funded, in large part, by dedicated trail funds, with additional support from the Federal Highway Administration's National Recreational Trails Program. The project was undertaken in response to the growing, changing demands for trails of all types; particularly the rapid growth in off-highway vehicle trail use. The DNR expects this guidebook to prove useful for grant-in-aid trail clubs and volunteers, local government sponsors, educators, and both public and private land managers.

The guidelines address both new and existing trail corridors, summer and winter-use trails, and multi-use trails with paved or naturally-surfaced treadways. Practical, low-cost and 'low-tech' solutions to the unique challenges faced by Minnesota trail builders are highlighted, recognizing the state's wide range of soil and site conditions, riparian area concerns and climatic extremes. Trail project planning, funding, permitting and environmental review steps are also discussed and references provided for those wishing to learn more.

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Published December 31, 2006

About the Author


The DNR is committed to creating a healthy, sustainable, and livable Minnesota for you. We are dedicated to protecting and managing land, water, fish and wildlife -- and providing access to outdoor recreation opportunities.

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