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Building Sustainable Trails

Sustainable trail planning supports visitor use and minimizes trail maintenance needs.

Inka Trail

We’ve been exploring Drs. Jeff Marion and Jeremy Wimpey’s work on sustainable trail design and how we can potentially incorporate portions of their work into the TRAILS planning support application. As trail planners examine existing trails and investigate opportunities to improve connectivity between trails, sustainability is a primary consideration. Marion, Wimpey, and others have researched sustainability from a scientific viewpoint. Some aspects include slope, side-slope, and surface type. Sustainability is important to reduce impacts on the environment and to reduce the need for trail maintenance. In the graphic below, Marion and Wimpey show the effects of Trail Slope Alignment (TSA) on the trail profile and how the TSA relates to sustainability or “degradation potential.” A lot of work goes into trail planning. You can learn more from the following video: 


TrailSlope Alignment (TSA)

                                               J.L. 48 Marion, J. Wimpey / Journal of Environmental Management 189 (2017) 46e57