Recreational trail design and maintenance

Well designed recreational trails can allow you and your family to enjoy the best of what your woodland has to offer.


These webinars are are supported by a 32-page publication, Trail Design for Small Properties.  The complete publication can be ordered here. Similar content appears in the 2010 UMN Extension book Woodland Stewardship: A Practical Guide for Midwestern Landowners.  Click to review a free PDF version of chapter 13: Recreational Trail Design.

Recorded webinars (January 2011):

Recreational trails

These presentations offer the basic knowledge necessary to design, construct, and maintain sustainable trails for hiking, horseback riding, bicycling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-highway motorcycling, and all terrain vehicles. Sustainable trails require minimal maintenance because their design and materials hold up to intensive recreational use and severe weather conditions.

Recreational Trail Design, Part 1 covers how to determine trail uses, select the trail corridor, establish trail design standards, mark exact trail location, clear the trail, and construct the tread.  (The recording of this presentation will appear here on January 22, 2010.)

Watch the recording of Part 1 now.

After watching, please fill in the quick Part 1 evaluation form.

Part 2 covers how to install structures to cross obstacles (e.g., a hillside, slopes and cliffs, wet soil, waterways and gullies, roads and fences), sign the trail, and install facilities that support the trail.

Watch the recording of Part 2 now.

After watching, please fill in the quick Part 2 evaluation form.

The instructor is Dr. Mel Baughman, Extension Forester and Program Leader from the University of Minnesota Extension. He has taught this subject for many years to hundreds of family forest owners and natural resource professionals.

Mel is the Extension Forestry program leader. He's based on the St Paul campus.

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  1. I “attended” Jan. 21 webinar “Recreational Trail Design: Parts 1” and want to get SAF CFE credit if possible. Great presentation even with web problems. Thanks.
    Jeff [personal info removed]

    1. Thanks Jeff for the note. I’ll send the complete attendance list to SAF once we get all of the details squared away. I’ll report back on this before or during next week’s presentation, as I know others are in the same boat. Thanks for dropping a line.

  2. Passing along a follow-up comment received by email. This may be of interest to listeners to Mel’s Part 2 webinar in reference to the question about livestock trails. Thank you JoAnn for the follow-up!


    Here is the link to the Electronic Field Office Technical Guide (eFOTG), which is the list of conservation practices available for each state. Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG). NRCS conservation practice standards provide guidance for applying conservation on the land and set the minimum acceptable level for application of the technology. Each State may sets the standard for conservation practices in that state, so it is best if people go to the above link for their own state and county. I have attached the practice standard for Animal Trails and walkways for Minnesota as an example. For specific drawings and design criteria, landowners should contact their local NRCS office for assistance.

    JoAnn Kurtis, RC&D Coordinator, NY-NRCS