The Nature of Trail Aesthetics

Four concepts generate all trail aesthetics for better or worse. Learn how to use them to shape any type of trail for the better.

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Event Details

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October 24, 2019

10:00 AM to 11:30 AM (Pacific Time) {more time zones}

11:00 AM to 12:30 PM (Mountain Time)
12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (Central Time)
01:00 PM to 02:30 PM (Eastern Time)


FREE for members
FREE for nonmembers

Learning Credit Cost: FREE


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Webinar Outline

This richly illustrated webinar introduces a small yet important portion of trailshaping. Trailshaping is a system of understanding in which simple, everyday forces shape (generate) the big picture, details, and nuances of all trails and all trail types, as well as context-specific trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management. The forces integrate nature, physics, logic, and emotion within themselves, and so everything shaped by the forces also integrates nature, physics, logic, and emotion throughout the whole. Among other things, trailshaping structures and explains how well-seasoned trail experts determine what to do in any given context, i.e., how to read and use the context itself to optimize the trail within that context.

Of the specific forces that shape each part of each trail, four of them potently shape trail aesthetics. These forces enable us to generate and explain trails with aesthetics based on the nature of trails themselves combined with the nature of any particular context. Through many examples, we’ll see how the forces interact to form trail aesthetics for better and for worse, and how these forces shape—and are shaped by—context-specific trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management.

(Note that the webinar, rich in photos and sparse in text, is much more enjoyable than this description. The description, however, sets the stage for how it is even possible to generate trail aesthetics through four forces.)

Learning Objectives:

  • Recognize and understand the forces that most potently shape the look and feel (“aesthetics”) of all trails and all trail types.
  • Gain a sense of how these forces shape and are shaped by trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management. The sense gained is a more refined and self-structuring version of the personal system of understanding that well-seasoned trail experts develop through long experience.
  • Learn how and why less formal (more naturalistic) trail design and construction can produce results that are better, smarter, faster, and cheaper in the long run.

Questions and Answers


Download the Questions and Answers PDF for The Nature of Trail Aesthetics webinar.


Webinar Partners


Troy Scott Parker, Principal, Natureshape, LLC

Troy Scott Parker is principal of Natureshape LLC, a trail planning, design, and education firm based in Boulder, Colorado. He’s the author of Natural Surface Trails by Design and is known for his ability to integrate trail aesthetics in practical design. His current project is the development of trailshaping, a system for understanding all trails and trail types based on specific forces that shape them, and which shape—and are shaped by—trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management. Trailshaping structures and explains how well-seasoned trail experts determine what to do in any given context, enabling people to rapidly develop their own trail expertise. His clients include the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, state parks, local governments, developers, The Nature Conservancy, and other nonprofits.


Closed Captioning

We are offering closed captioning for our webinars, thanks to a partnership with VZP Digital. If you are in need of this service, please email us prior to the webinar. An unedited transcript will be sent to all attendees following the webinar.

Learning Credits and CEUs

American Trails is proud to be a certified provider of the following learning credits and continuing education opportunities:

  • American Institute of Certified Planners Continuing Maintenance (AICP CM)
  • Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System (LA CES PDH) (most HSW approved)
  • National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) CEU equivalency petition
  • CEU/PDH equivalency petition for other accepting organizations

Learning credits are free for attendees for American Trails webinars and the International Trails Symposium, as well as for other conferences, webinars, and workshops we offer credits for. Learn more here.


While we may individually agree (or disagree) in whole or in part with any or all of the participants, the views expressed in these webinars are not necessarily representative of the views of American Trails as an organization or its board and staff. Unless specific situations are noted by presenters, nothing in American Trails webinars should be considered to be interpreted as a standard.

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2,250 views • posted 07/01/2019