Create A Trail

Creating a sustainable trail begins with good planning. A properly planned trail has a much greater chance of receiving grant funding and support from local stakeholders. Once you have a well-planned trail that is funded, then you can begin design and construction of the trail. The end result should be a properly designed trail for the identified user groups that will be low-maintenance and perform well for years to come.


Thoughtful trail planning is the initial step into creating a trail, greenway or blueway that builds connectivity between the built and natural environments. Trail design takes into consideration:

  1. An organization's community resources: funds, volunteers, donors, land
  2. Objectives for the trail: connectivity, non-motorized transporation routes, open space, natural resources
  3. Different trail users: hikers, bikers, equestrians, paddlers, off-road vehicle usrs
  4. Tailored experiences: challenge, education, vistas, distance

A single trail can be designed to accommodate multiple user groups and provide a variety of experiences.

Example of a planning topography map

Design and building

During the planning phase, design aspects of a trail are typically generated. However, laying out a trail and building a trail is where those design aspects are physically implemented. Trail corridor will be determined, trail tread will be marked, and trail builders (professional contractors, volunteers, or a combination) will “dig” the trail.

    How to build a trail steps 1 to 2

    How to build a trail steps 3 to 5

    Sustainable trails

    Sustainable trails are designed to minimize environmental degradation and maintenance requirements, while providing users an enjoyable experience that will stand the test of time. Sustainable design considers topography, site selection and alignment, trail structures, soils, natural resources and other factors.

    Use these links to find resources on building sustainable trails.