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INNOVATIVE NON-MOTORIZED TRAIL PROJECTS AND IDEAS (Colorado)

KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL TRAIL SYSTEM PROJECTS

General

• Each project includes a grassroots support effort with enthusiastic people and agencies.

• The projects have a clear plan that illustrates what the individual/group would like to do and how they intend to achieve their desired goals.

• Partnerships exist and each partner has a defined role and many of the partners carry out their roles.

• There is access to funding and some knowledge of how long term maintenance and management will occur.

Major Criteria For a Quality Project

• The trail system is sensitive to both natural and cultural resources.

• The trail system is economically sustainable.

• The trail system is a reflection of social responsibility and enhances the community, region, state, and/or country.

Criteria for Successful Trail System Development

• The system must be well planned, including phasing, long term maintenance, and funding.

• The system clearly connects Point A to Point B and usually connects numerous points in-between.

• The trail system has a clear identity with a definitive name that attracts people and defines the trail’s focus.

• The trail system is well signed, often with a special identity signage program.

• A well designed and attractive map is readily available at numerous locations.

• Interpretation is provided (e.g., ranges from simple explanation on maps or at trailheads to more formal wayside exhibits or even visitor centers)

• Support service systems are available. This can range from highly sophisticated to primitive (e.g., trailheads, restrooms, campgrounds, lodging, restaurants, supply shops). Many of the most successful link to towns where diverse services are provided.

Innovative Non-motorized Trails Projects & Ideas 3

• Unique support systems are often provided (e.g., special related events, bus service to special trail areas,

food service at the lodge, baggage transport service, lodging reservation services, special interpretive programs, tours).

Categories of Discussion

Please realize most of the trail systems listed in the discussion would fit well under all the categories listed

below. However, we have placed certain trail systems under a specific category to help illustrate specific points.

1. Planning

2. Regional Linkage Trails/Multi-Entity/Partnerships

3. Resource Focus/Education/Interpretation

4. Maintenance/Monitoring/Management

News

Reference: InnovativeTrailsColorado

 

1. PLANNING

Quality Planning is a Key Component to a Successful Trail System

Some trail systems may start with very simple plans in relation to a fledgling idea while other efforts may have highly sophisticated, well funded planning efforts; but all were planned. In each case the people implementing the trail system had a vision, criteria for creating and linking different segments of the trail system, and considered how the system might be sustained and maintained over the long term.

The plan should have the following components:

Context. The plan should clearly show how the trail links into a larger system, what natural, historic, and cultural resources surround it, existing surrounding land uses, and how the trail links to needed facilities such as a trailhead.

Inventory/Analysis/Synthesis (Natural, Historic, Cultural, and Use Patterns). The plan should define existing conditions along the trail including such elements as land uses, facilities, environmental conditions, historic and cultural resources, users, use patterns, and trail conditions. Individuals using the plan should be able to clearly understand where sensitive resources exist, what and where trail problems exist, and how the trail is being used.

Needs and Desires. The plan should define problems that need to be addressed in order to make the trail system successful and it should also define desired goals.

Vision. The plan should clearly state a vision for the trail in the future and state what will be achieved by implementing the plan.

Plan Development, Implementation Strategies. The plan should provide a clear picture of what is being proposed for the trail system and how the plan will be implemented and maintained. The plan should include sufficient implementation strategies that generally include design, construction, fund raising, promotion, education and interpretation, partnerships, priorities, and maintenance strategies. Phasing plans are often needed since many plans are implemented in progressive phases over time. Costs are also needed even if they are general.

A Successful Trail System Generally has a Grassroots Component and is Planned with Public/Private Partners. Partnerships often begin forming early and broaden during later planning phases. Planning is done cooperatively with diverse entities providing input and assisting at key times throughout the plan’s development. The successful trail system projects inventoried were all partnership projects that involved cooperation between different levels of government and often the public.

Creative Solutions and Breaking Away From the Norm are Part of Many Successful Efforts

Creativity can be illustrated in solving problems at any level, from how the partners work together to how the trail is maintained is the future. Creative solutions are often the impetus that gives the plan the needed excitement and support that is needed to carry the project through.

Successful Projects Often Work in Tandem with Existing Efforts and Extend From Those Efforts

For example, Colorado has a successful Scenic Byway Program that is well funded. They have established criteria for what constitutes a scenic byway and have defined centers and points of interest along the way.

Trail systems that link these same scenic byway centers and points of interest could be established in tandem with the scenic byways. The trails need not go along the roads but could take scenic trail routes and link many of the same resources. Existing trails could most likely be used in some cases.

Think Big and Bold

Most of the successful trail initiatives researched included big, bold ideas. Examples of a few implemented successful projects include: …examples…

The Vienna to Prague and the Vienna to Budapest Trails that link different countries together and

provide exceptional visitor experiences as one moves through rural countrysides and famous historic

cities.

Centennial Trail/The Black Hills National Forest Hiking Trail is 111 miles long and goes through

much of the Black Hills of South Dakota. The trail goes from prairie grasslands to Black Hills high

country and is managed by five agencies.

The Lake Champlain Bikeways is a 350-mile network around the entire Lake Champlain and along

the Richelieu River in Quebec. There are many shorter loops within the larger loop and bridges and

ferries to create many options.

The Essex Heritage Project includes the entire county of Essex and grew from a small town project to

include 34 communities. The area is now a National Heritage Area and involves government entities at

all levels as well as the private sector.

The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network includes the largest estuary in the United States and extends

from Norfolk Virginia to the Chumming River Basin in New York State.

The Gunflint Trail comprises over 175 km of crosscountry ski trail. Portions are lighted for night skiing

and a hut to hut system is maintained and managed by area businesses.

Superior Hiking Trail includes over 200 miles of hiking paths along the ridgeline of Lake Superior

from northern Minnesota to near Canada. It connects 7 state parks and goes though miles of national

forest. The layout makes it suitable for day-hikers, long-distance backpackers, and lodge-to-lodge hikers.

Innovative Non-motorized Trails Projects & Ideas 6

2. REGIONAL LINKAGE TRAILS/MULTI-ENTITY PARTNERSHIPS

The following trail systems are listed under this category because they link many different areas together, provide exceptional visitor experiences, and involve multi-entity partnerships. Several of the trails listed under Resource Focus/Education and Interpretation also fit into this category but had specific educational or themed focuses so they seemed to fit better in the category in which they are listed. All of these linkage trail systems involve partnerships and link to communities. …examples…

Vienna to Prague Biking Tour

Location: Vienna, Austria to Prague, Czech Republic

Purpose: Provide quality biking experience that passes through beautiful countryside, natural and historic

sites, and links to rural and urban communities.

Scale/Use: 49,035 kilometers, designed for bikers with off and on-road travel routes. Lesser-trafficked

roads were used wherever possible.

Description: Major reasons successful:

The trail has an exciting name and connotations of experience.

The trail clearly takes the user from Point A to Point B with many interesting subpoints in-between.

There is a clearly signed trail throughout the entire area; simple, attractive colored coded signs were used.

Every trail has a color and some have several colors.

The trail is safe and designed for the average recreationalist and family.

Each section is fun and provides new and diverse experiences.

There are exceptional support services along the way. The users know they will have beer gardens,

restaurants, and attractive communities to use along the way.

There are excellent tourist services. For example, visitors can contact a special tourist service who will

help them plan where they stay, make lodging reservations, pick up all luggage and ensure it arrives at

every destination. However, the visitor is free to travel at their own pace as long as they reach each

agreed upon destination.

Vienna to Budapest Trail

Location: Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary

Purpose: Provide an off-road trail that links two countries.

Scale/Use: Off-road hiking and biking trail

Description: Off-road trail that passes by many communities with excellent support services. Heavily

used, safe, fun, and diverse. Follows major river drainages in the region.

Romantische Weg/Danube Bike Trail

Location: Along prominent routes from Passau to Vienna, Danube river Valley

Use: Primarily bicyclists

Description: Following the Danube River Valley, the paved and separated bikeway links some of Austria’s

most impressive cultural sites that include castles, abbeys, and medieval-era towns. The trail features 90%

traffic free bike trails on primarily flat terrain, and affords users to experience agrarian landscapes of farms,

orchards and vineyards that lie between population centers. The Austrian Federal Railways offer substantial

services, such as transport and bike rental at 170 stations through the country

Ice Age Trail

Location: Wisconsin

Purpose: Provide extensive trail opportunities for bikers and hikers throughout much of the State of

 

3. Ideas Related to These Special Initiative Trail Systems

1. Resource Themed Trails. Define natural, cultural, and historic resource themes and provide a trail system that links themed resource areas together. Sample cultural themes in Colorado might be related to mining, railroads, and ranching/farming. Natural themes might be based on the State’s geographic units or on the idea of plains to glaciers. The trail system could link these geographic units and interpretation would help users understand the changing ecology of the State. A partner might also be the Museum of Natural History in Denver since they have excellent dioramas of the different ecosystems in Colorado; these dioramas, with expanded information related to trails/first hand experiences, could be used as an orientation center. The Museum of Natural History might also be willing to have programs related to specific ecosystems along the trail system.

2. Historic Structures Hut to Hut System. Use historic structures that exist throughout certain USFS and BLM areas for hike, mountain bike, horseback ride destinations. These areas could also link to historic towns and private bed and breakfast or other service areas. The USFS and BLM could also work with private enterprises to so food and other services could be provided to users.

3. Create a Heritage State Park System and/or a Stronger Link to the State Historical Society. A heritage state park system could help ensure significant historical and cultural resources are preserved and adaptively reused throughout the State. Also link to the State Historical Society for both research, information, preservation, and funding. Partner with the State Historical Society for development of the historic themed trails. This was proposed in the Cripple Creek Trails Plan for both in-town and regional trail corridors and could be used as a pilot project area.

4. Non-Motorized Trail System Tied to Scenic Byways Program. Work with the Scenic Byways Program and their partners to define off-road trails that link many of the same destinations and resource areas.

Innovative Non-motorized Trails Projects & Ideas 15

5. Partner with Open Space Acquisitions to Designate Trails/Build Stronger Relationship with Trusts/Funds.

As open space areas are being designated consider if trail systems are appropriate and if they are create trail easements at the same time the open space acquisition/conservation easements are being created. Work with specific trusts like the Cattlemens Association to develop educational/interpretive programs related to trail etiquette in ranching and farming areas. State trails programs could help with the trail component.

Innovative Non-motorized Trails Projects & Ideas 16

4. Maintenance/Monitoring/Management

If trails are initially well planned, designed, and constructed, long-term maintenance and management will be reduced. In addition, if trails are well managed to lessen impacts, the trail will remain more successful. Therefore, maintenance and management should be addressed at the outset of a project to ensure:

! long-term success of the trail

! a safe environment for trail users is provided for and exposure to liability is reduced

! planning, design and construction focuses on long-term maintenance issues

! a trail monitoring system is established so impacts are understood

! appropriate funding for long-term maintenance is considered

Trail construction and maintenance must be accomplished correctly or management can have endless headaches and the trail can be an unpleasant and unsafe experience.

Whoever is doing trail design, construction, and maintenance should be well trained. Volunteers who are constructing, maintaining, or monitoring trails can be extremely helpful and are critically important for pubic agencies so positive relationships can be established. However, volunteers must be well trained and appropriately supervised. One cannot assume a trail can be built and then merely left to volunteers to maintain. Trail maintenance funding is vital to the success of a trail.

Projects are often initiated and carried out by a small, grassroots organizations comprising a group of involved citizens. The planning, design, and construction process absorbs the enthusiasm of the project constituents during the initial phases of developing support, often leaving little pooled energy to tackle management and maintenance issues. Moreover, energy wanes when construction is completed; however, the trail/greenway is just beginning its life.

The cost for ignoring management and maintenance issues necessitates the need to re-build project enthusiasm and project relationships at a time when most people are just beginning to value the project.

Trails are generally managed and maintained through a variety of partnership arrangements. While partnerships are crucial to creating a community-based resource that contribute to long-term success of a project, typically one organization becomes the "enduring" management/maintenance entity. Therefore, it is essential that responsibilities for maintenance – both human and financial resources – be determined when selecting the potential partners that will sponsor a trail project.

 

Mott Training Center

The California State Parks Mott Training Center -- an award winning facility and program -- offers a

comprehensive training series that provides the technical knowledge and skills to field personnel from

California State Parks and other agencies. Located on the Monterey peninsula, the Training Center consists

of modern classrooms, audio-visual rooms, a conference room, and a library, offices and three housing lodges

that can accommodate 60 persons. The program prepares a Trails Program Coordinator at each Parks

District that will organize and implement a trail management and maintenance program, develop an

inventory of trail features and associated budget, and fully understand and comply with ADA standards as

they apply to trail systems.

Innovative Non-motorized Trails Projects & Ideas 17

The training series includes the following courses:

Course Basic Intermediate Advanced

Topics ! basics of trail administration

! introduction to trail layout

and design

! clearing and brushing

techniques

! trail tread and drainage

maintenance

! budgeting,

! resource management

considerations

! permitting

! CEQA/5024 requirements

! complex trail layout and design

! drainage structures

! project management and

implementation

! ADA fully accessible trails

! motorized equipment

! bridge construction

Lab &

Practical

! trail log development and

inventory

! assessment

! trail layout and design

! new trail construction

! drainage

! maintenance

! trail reconstruction

! construction of retaining walls

! drainage lenses

! causeway/turnpike

! culverts puncheon/boardwalks

! construction of bridges

! motorized equipment

! trail prescriptions.

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