Trail Planning Skills and Competencies

Specific skills used in planning individual trails and greenways; identifying routes and experiences for park systems; developing plans for regional and statewide systems; developing goals and objectives for trail projects.

by American Trails Staff

Skills for Natural Surface Trail Planning

  • Identifying goals, activities, routes, and alternatives
  • Sustainable trail planning
  • Planning for different trail activites or shared uses
  • Analyzing resources and visitor needs as part of trail system planning
  • Planning for off-highway vehicle parksand use areas
  • Using and interpreting aerial photographs

Skills for Urban Trail and Bike/Ped Planning

  • Planning greenways and river corridors
  • Including trails in utility and transportation corridors
  • Planning systems of on-street and trail facilities
  • Planning intermodal bicycle/pedestrian facilities

Skills for Regional and Statewide Trail Planning

  • Identifying uses, needs, and opportunities
  • Conducting surveys and public input on plans
  • Identifying and mapping potential corridors

Skills for Multi-objective Planning

  • Working with utility, transportation, and other corridors to include trails
  • Participate in land use planning process at the county, state, and regional levels
  • Plan trails in conjunction with driving tours, scenic byways, and other tourism program
  • Provide advice in the evaluation and study process for proposed national scenic and historic trails
  • Using public involvement strategies and designing and evaluating public involvement processes

More Articles in this Category

FAQ: How to measure the strength and growth of a trail network

Measuring the benefits and economic development of trails.

Planning Trails With Wildlife In Mind - CASE STUDIES and PROJECTS

See examples of trail design in habitat areas, techniques for managing visitors, trail system planning, habitat restoration, trails as part of habitat conservation, and education on the value of wildlife and habitat.

Great Calusa Blueway, Florida

The Great Calusa Blueway paddling trail meanders 190 miles along the back bays and wildlife-laden shores of Lee County on Florida’s Gulf coast near Sanibel and Fort Myers. The route provides non-motorized access to Federal, State, and Local preserves and historic sites in one of the fastest growing areas of the country.

Apalachicola River Paddling Trail System, Florida

Stretching through the panhandle of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico, this water trail system offers over 100 miles of scenic paddling trails.

McTrail National Recreation Trail, Marion County, West Virginia

McTrail is managed by Marion County Parks and Recreation Commission and is highlighted by a 1,200 ft lighted tunnel. It runs 2.2 miles from Fairmont, WV to Prickett’s Fort State Park.

Jacobus Park Nature Trail, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

A hiking and biking loop trail takes visitors through a woodland island in Metropolitan Milwaukee.