A trail is defined as a designated route on land or water with public access for recreation or transportation purposes such as walking, jogging, motorcycling, hiking, bicycling, ATV-ing, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and backpacking. There are many different types of trails:

  • Greenway (Urban Trail): A trail established along a natural corridor, such as a river, stream, ridgeline, rail trail, canal, or other route for conservation, recreation, or alternative transportation purposes. Greenway Trails can connect parks, nature preserves, cultural facilities, and historic sites with business and residential areas.
  • Hard Surface (Paved): A trail tread surfaced with asphalt, concrete, soil cement, or other hard, stabilized material.
  • Trail, Hiker-Biker: An urban paved trail designed for use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Trail, Hiking: Moderate to long distance trail with the primary function of providing long-distance walking experiences (usually two miles or more).
  • Trail, Interpretive (Nature Trail): Short to moderate length trail (1/2 to 1 mile) with primary function of providing an opportunity to walk or paddle and study interesting or unusual plants or natural features at user's pleasure. The ideal nature trail has a story to tell. It unifies the various features or elements along the trail into a related theme.
  • Trail, Sustainable Natural Surface: A trail that supports currently planned and potential future uses with minimal impact and negligible soil loss while allowing the naturally occurring plant systems to inhabit the area, recognizing required pruning and eventual removal of certain plants over time. The sustainable trail will require little rerouting and minimal maintenance over extended periods of time.


  • Trail Design: Design and layout of trails requires special training, knowledge, experience, and skill. When designing trails, many different factors are taken into account including hydrology, topography, soils, flora, fauna, management objectives, user expectations and characteristics, and trail design standards. The designer will utilize data collected from area site analysis, environmental assessments, public meetings, and area trail and management plans.
  • Location:  Location is crucial when building trails. It is a very good idea to build trails near water, for aesthetic and functional purposes. 

Click here for more information about designing and building trails.