Strategy and Plan of Action for The Water Trails Community

Planning Resources to Consider in Planning New Water Trails

Water trails are a unique form of recreation – in its simplest form it consists of floating with minor balance and navigation. However, the ability to reach the water’s edge is probably one of the largest obstacles to participation.


Strat and plan


This plan lays out multiple strategies for enhancing Iowa’s system of state-designated water trails. Some suggest new trail routes. Many strategies simply enhance the use of existing trails for more people while conserving the resources—the soil, water, and vegetation—that make our experience possible. A few strategies recommend new experience types, such as remote, multi-day trips. Most paddlers in Iowa who provided input told us the only reason they don’t paddle more frequently is limited time. The water trails program would like to change that by supporting the development of more well-designed trails throughout the state to decrease travel time. We’ve also developed several standardized features for State designated water trails in response to paddler and water trail manager support. These features include hazard warning and wayfinding signage as well as access and parking design and will increase water trail user satisfaction and expectations without becoming a burden to water trail developers and managers.

Published January 2014

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The influence of use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss from recreational trails

This research investigated the influence of several use-related, environmental, and managerial factors on soil loss on recreational trails and roads at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a unit of the U.S. National Park Service.

All-Terrain Vehicle Sustainability Assessments

The sustainable management of ATV use is an expensive proposition requiring careful design, construction, and maintenance of ATV trails.

Assessing the Condition and Sustainability of the Trail System at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

This research assessed the condition and sustainability of the trail system at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, a National Park Service unit that partners with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in the management of this unit.

The Influence of Layout on Appalachian Trail Soil Loss, Widening, and Muddiness

This research investigates the influence of layout and design on the severity of trail degradation.