Vermont Town Forest Trail Standards Guide

The Vermont Town Forest Trail Design Guide was developed as part of the Vermont Town Forest Recreation Planning Toolkit, an initiative of the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program, to provide general guidance for designing and developing trails in town forests and beyond.

The Vermont Town Forest Trail Design Guide was developed as part of the Vermont Town Forest Recreation Planning Toolkit, an initiative of the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program, to provide general guidance for designing and developing trails in town forests and beyond.

The guide provides trail planning, design, and development guidance, drawing from a combination of national standards and best practices, including the following documents, which were incorporated into the Vermont Town Forest Trail Design Guide, in many cases verbatim:

• Trail Solutions: IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack (IMBA, 2004)
• Guidelines for Quality Trail Experience (IMBA, 2018)
• Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook (U.S. Forest Service, 2007)
• Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines (Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, 2007)

These guidelines are best practices for developing trails that are physically, ecologically, and economically sustainable. A comprehensive trail classification system was also developed to enhance consistency among agencies and trail advocates in how different types of trails are described and planned. The principles of trail design that make trails more visually appealing and enjoyable are also included.

Collectively, the guidelines provide a starting point for possibilities to get started in your town forest, but you will need to gather local information and input for your community and forest. Each trail situation is unique and requires site-specific evaluation to determine the most appropriate design approach. In some cases, refinements or adjustments to the guidelines will be warranted to ensure that the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Whereas the guide is an important reference, it is not a substitute for the in-the-field analysis required to make informed decisions about the design and development of a specific trail. Local decisions should ultimately be informed by site-specific information and in some cases, in consultation with a professional. Vermont is fortunate to have agency staff, local and regional trail groups and private consultants available to assist communities in providing on site assistance in trail planning. For more information on resources and partners, checkout VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation website (fpr. vermont.gov/recreation/partners-and-resources).

Attached document published June 2020

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