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American Trails

Pre-Conference Activities -- Visit our Sponsors

We’ve planned many opportunities for attendees to enjoy the outdoors, Austin, and the surrounding region. Come early and join us for special training workshops and fun and educational field trips before the main conference begins. This is your chance to really get immersed, whether it’s in the latest techniques in trail design or construction, learning about Texas’ ecotourism programs and rich heritage, or just enjoying the natural wonders of the Central Texas region. We hope you will plan to join us during at least one of these pre-conference activities. Lots of opportunities await, so be sure to join in on the adventures and the fun!

Access Workshops - Sponsored by Beneficial Designs, Inc. and American Trails

Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) Coordinator Workshop
Wednesday, October 20 through Thursday, October 21
Time: 7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $355 by August 20, $395 by October 8, $425 after October 8

The UTAP is an inventory process that provides objective information about trail conditions (e.g. grade, cross slope, width). The information obtained through an assessment can be used by land managers to enhance the safety and enjoyment of trail users (by providing accurate data on trail conditions), monitor environmental impact of the trail, prepare budgets, develop maintenance and construction plans, and identify potential access barriers. The two-day workshop combines classroom and hands-on experience to ensure that participants have the skills and confidence to conduct assessments. Cost includes transportation from Austin Convention Center to the workshop site, training materials, and lunches. Scholarships are available for State Trail Administrators and their representatives (please contact the American Trails office).

TrailWare: UTAP Data Management Software Course
Saturday, October 23 • Time: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Cost: $145 by August 20, $175 by October 8, $195 after October 8

TrailWare 2.0 is a software program for efficiently managing trail data collected through the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP). TrailWare makes storing and analyzing data easier, allows for creating trail characteristic reports (e.g. grade, cross slope, width, obstructions, and surface) for management purposes, and Trail Access Information reports suitable for distribution to trail users. The course will provide hands-on instruction on using TrailWare effectively.

Participants will learn how to enter data, perform data analysis, and create and use reports. Registration fee includes course materials and a 120-day trial version of TrailWare 2.0 Software. NOTE: Participants should bring a portable computer to the course that is ready for the installation of TrailWare (Windows 95 or newer; 32 MB RAM; CD-ROM drive). Participants must have appropriate authorization passwords to load software onto the computer; many Windows 2000 and XP operating platforms restrict permission for loading software. Contact Beneficial Designs at for more information about computer requirements.

Accessibility and Trails Workshop
Presented by: Janet A. Zeller, National Accessibility Program Manager, USDA Forest Service and Bill Botten, Accessibility Specialist, U.S. Access Board
Thursrday, October 21• Time: 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
No Fee, Pre-registration required

This session addresses the various aspects and positions on the issue of accessibility as it relates to trails. The Why, Where, How, and When of Trail Accessibility Guidelines will address why the existing accessibility guidelines, under the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act and the 1990 ADA don’t always fit the hiking environment. It will cover the U.S. Access Board’s efforts to develop guidelines and why the USDA Forest Service stepped up to fill the void and the status of their guidelines. The presentations will address where the guidelines apply, the requirements for trail accessibility, and how the guidelines can be met while maintaining the natural setting of each hiker/ pedestrian trail. The session will include interactive audience participation, practical examples, and a moderated panel of experts in an open forum discussion format. The moderated panel will include the accessibility specialists from the Access Board and the USDA Forest Service, representatives from a long distance trail and from an advocacy group, and practitioners currently making trails accessible.

State Trail Administrators Training Workshop
Presented by the Federal Highway Administration and National Association of State Trail Administrators (attendance is by invitation)
Wednesday, October 20• Time: 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m
Thursrday, October 21• Time:8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m

The annual assembly of trail program staff from most States to share problems and ideas. Emphasis is on funding programs through the Recreational Trails Program.

Trail Toys Equipment Expo

Thursday, October 21 • Time: 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
Cost: $15

Vendors will demonstrate equipment, tools and materials used in the construction, maintenance and signing of trails at this popular offsite field trip. Following the Trail Toys Equipment Expo, vendors will have the opportunity to showcase their products in the American Community Exhibit Hall and along
the American Lifestyles Trail & Greenway at the conference site, and to discuss their products with interested Symposium participants. The Equipment Expo is designed to move one step further
and allow vendors to actually show Trail Toys at work! Exhibits may include trail building machines, GPS equipment, tools, soil surfacing materials, foundation systems, horse trailers, restrooms, bridges, and lots of things in between! Participants may also have an opportunity to “test” other items such as, bicycles, ATV’s, etc. If you are interested in participating as an exhibitor, contact Mike Brownlee at (512) 440-5156 or for details.

Natural Surface Trail Design: The Keys to Sustainability & Visitor Enjoyment

Thursday, October 21 • Time: 8:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Cost: $155 fee includes the new, full color book Natural Surface Trails by Design: Physical and Human Design Essentials for Sustainable, Enjoyable Trails ($25 value), lunch, and breaks
Presented by Troy Scott Parker

What you may have suspected is true: there IS a system for designing sustainable, enjoyable natural surface trails. But skilled trail designers usually can’t comprehensively tell you what it is, leaving trail design as a serious hole in training. Based on years of research, this indoor workshop introduces a concise, holistic system for generating context-appropriate trails for any use (hiking, horse, ADA, biking, ATV, OHV), for any site, any topography, any local conditions or materials, and any budget.

The system clearly tells you what works and what doesn’t (and why), assumes trail tread changes over time in predictable ways, explains performance of existing trails, predicts future performance for any situation, relates human feelings to site features and physics, puts a solid foundation under many existing trail techniques, creates a language for trail design and evaluation, and much more. It digs to the core of soil and crushed stone trails: the basics of human feelings, human perception, physical forces (compaction, displacement, erosion), soils and tread materials, water and soil movement, and their many interrelations. The same system also makes it quick and easy to evaluate the sustainability and visitor enjoyment of existing and proposed trails. Please visit for more info.

Texas Trails Conference: Building the Great Texas Trail
Thursday, October 21 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. • No Fee, Pre-registration required; Lunch provided

All registrants for the Symposium are invited to attend a special pre-conference event, Building the Great Texas Trail! Co-sponsored by Texas Trails Network and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, this six-hour seminar will focus on expanding the trail system in Texas. The long-term goal is to create a comprehensive network of transportation and recreational trails that will offer trail access to everyone in the state within 15 minutes of their home. To help meet this objective, this seminar will focus on the key components of local trail development: Planning, Funding, Design, Partnerships, Construction and Maintenance. Examples of successful projects from across the state will illustrate the tremendous opportunity available to all Texas communities that want to become a part of the Texas Trails Network. With over 650 trails within the state, and hundreds more in development, Texans are working together to build a trail system that will be second to none. Immediately following the seminar, we ask that you help us welcome our guests arriving from other states, as trail enthusiasts from across the nation hike, bike, ride, and paddle into Austin for the opening of the 17th National Trails Symposium. See you there!

Become a Tread Lightly! Tread Trainer

While at the symposium, don't miss your opportunity to participate in Tread Lightly!®'s new Tread Trainer™ program. This program is designed to provide training on outdoor ethics and create a network of trainers willing to spread the message of responsible recreation. Two courses will be available on Thursday, October 21. For more details, visit the Tread Lightly! Website at

Tread Trainer Course
Thursday, October 21 Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. • Cost: $20.00

A three-hour course to raise understanding of Tread Lightly! and how to present the outdoor ethic to others.

Master Tread Trainer Course
Thursday, October 21 Time: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. • Cost: $75.00

An eight-hour course preparing participants to understand the role outdoor ethics play in the recreation community. Learn the Tread Lightly! principles of responsible recreation, and be provided with the tools to conduct similar workshops.

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