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2017 International Trails Symposium –
Full Session Schedule


Conference Materials


The Symposium included numerous educational sessions and presentations covering a broad range of trail issues. Many presenters have made their presentations available to be viewed. Sessions with a live link such as "View this presentation online..." will take you to an online slide show or pdf from the original PowerPoint as presented at the Symposium.

To read more about all presentations at the Symposium, and for more about the presenters, download Educational Session descriptions and presenter bios (PDF).


Presentations are arranged by subject:



Connecting Communities: Integrating Transportation and Recreation Networks

View this presentation online...

Presenters: Christopher Douwes is a Community Planner with the Federal Highway Administration; Laura Toole is a Planning and Environmental Specialist in the FHWA Ohio Division

Several new design publications highlight ways that planners and designers can apply the design flexibility found in national design guidelines to address common design challenges and barriers. These publications focus on reducing multimodal conflicts and achieving connected networks, so that walking and bicycling are safe, comfortable, and attractive options for people of all ages and abilities.

Reclaiming Cleveland: Urban Trails in a (Former) Rust-Belt City

View this presentation online...

Presenter: Sara Byrnes Maier, Cleveland Metroparks; James Kastelic, Maxine Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University

Two key projects in revitalizing Cleveland are the Centennial Trail Lake Link and the "Re-Connecting Cleveland: Pathways to Opportunity" TIGER grant project. Covered will be planning and consortium building efforts that provided the necessary interest and momentum for these projects; implementation and assembly of funding from philanthropic, local, state, and federal sources; and the realities of designing and building urban trails

Federal Transportation Funds for Trails

View this presentation online...

Presenters: Christopher Douwes, Federal Highway Administration; D’Juan Hammonds, Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Laura Toole, Bicycle and Pedestrian and Recreational Trails Programs, FHWA Ohio Division

The Federal Highway Administration’s transportation programs can help create safe, accessible, attractive, and environmentally- sensitive communities where people want to live, work, and recreate. This session describes Federal surface transportation programs to fund trail projects for transportation and recreation.

Trash to Treasure: Partnering with Utilities for Trails

Download this presentation... (pdf 3.6 mb)

Presenter: Katherine G. Holmok, Environmental Design Group

Glenwillow, Ohio has developed a multilayered trail and park system along floodplains, regionally significant utilities, industrial history, and new development. Glenwillow has a rich history tied closely to the Austin Powder Company, which closed in 1972. Other landmarks include multiple closed solid waste landfills, the Wheeling & Lake Erie railroad, and large electric transmission lines with a significant substation.

Rails With Trails: Finding the Safety, Liability, and Mobility Sweet Spot

Download summary of America's Rails with Trails report... (pdf 5.5 mb)

Download Rails with Trails presentation... (pdf 2.9 mb)

Presenter: Jared Fijalkowski, Community Planner, U.S. DOT Volpe Center

Rights of way adjacent to railroad tracks present unique opportunities for development into trails. Rails with trails, as they are called, can link communities, provide opportunities for recreation, and improve access to rail transit. However, concerns about liability, safety, security, and trespassing are justifiably common. This session will introduce a U.S. DOT research effort aimed at learning more about the state of the practice of rails with trails.

Telling the Tale of our Ohio Trails: Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton connect to create the Nation’s Largest Paved Trail Network

View presentation by Wade Johnston and Megan Folkerth online...

Presenters: Tony Collins, Director of Recreation and Parks, City of Columbus; Wade Johnston, Tri-State Trails; Megan Folkerth, Interact for Health; Kjirsten Frank Hoppe, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission

The nation’s longest paved trail network is a 340-mile accomplishment and a point of pride. The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission has been working since 1973 to connect more than a dozen major trails to local communities and Ohio's three largest cities. Highlights include collaborating with multiple agencies, setting the standards for a regional signage and wayfinding system, producing trail maps, and conducting trail counts and user surveys.

Creating 21st Century Trail Networks - Setting a Bold Vision & Reaching Beyond the Choir

View Katie Harris' presentation online...

Presenter: Katie Harris, Washington Area Bicyclist Association; Ana Valenzuela, RTC GIS Analyst; Jim Brown, RTC; Anna Withrow, Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center

A bold, inclusive vision for a regional trail network can't be built by just planners and trail advocates. To build coalitions as diverse of the communities that they represent, the trails community must engage people that have not typically been included in trail development discussions. Learn how Baltimore MD, Washington D.C., and West Virginia are bringing new voices to the table.

Where Trails Really Take Flight: Connecting People and Heritage in the Birthplace of Aviation

Presenter: Timothy R. Gaffney, Director of Communications National Aviation Heritage Alliance

Today, more than 330 miles of paved trails connect many of the Dayton region's aviation heritage sites. This panel explains how the bicycle figured in the development of the airplane, and how the Greater Dayton Region is working to connect bicycling with aviation heritage to increase our attractiveness as a tourism destination and make the a better place to live.

Around the Lakes: Big Ideas Build Multi-Use Trail Networks

Presenters: Diane Banta, National Park Service, is an Outdoor Recreation Planner in the Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program; Eli Lechter, RLA, is a Senior Associate and registered Landscape Architect at Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects

Big ideas and special places stir creativity and connection. The Lake Michigan Trails Network is working to create a totally unique multi-trail experience around 1,600 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. Even bigger visions exist for connected trails along all of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Century Vision connects planning on either side of the lakes and the Blueprint for the Great Lakes Trail, and defines an opportunity for National Scenic Trail development.

Finding your path: A Comprehensive Strategic Plan

Presenter: Yves Zsutty serves as the City of San Jose’s Trail Network Manager

How does staff start a conversation with agency leaders about falling behind on ambitious goals, struggles to keep up with ever-complicated projects, and requests for resources when there are so many other demands? A Strategic Plan can support the conversation in a productive and positive manner by bringing forward research, successful examples, and innovative ideas.

Getting your concept off the ground: taking the leap from concept to reality

Presenters: Wyatt McDermitt is a transportation engineer with The Kleingers Group; Wade Johnston is the Regional Trails Coordinator for Tri-State Trails

One of the first steps when planning a new trail route is identifying the connections that will benefit the community: what are you trying to connect and how do you get there? Creating a realistic concept plan can help trail advocates take their vision from the taxi-way to take off by proving the feasibility of the plan to funders, stakeholders and supporters. This session explores a toolkit of planning and engineering solutions based on the greater Cincinnati area trails.

Adventures in Urban Trailblazing: Cleveland's Towpath Trail

Presenter: Doug Blank is a transportation project manager with Michael Baker International

The nearly-completed 100-mile Towpath Trail traverses a variety of urban landscapes in Cleveland across a wide spectrum of redevelopment. The Towpath will transform twelve acres of asphalt stockpiles into a meadow and wetland, convert a treacherous local street into a half mile of accessible neighborhood trail abutting the front steps of existing townhouses, and will ultimately enable the connection of Downtown Cleveland to hundreds of miles of independent shared-use trails throughout Ohio.

Where Muscle Meets Motor: Mixed-Use in a Rural Context

Presenter: Nathan Belz is an assistant professor in Civil Engineering at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks

While some Alaska communities value and are making considerable efforts to maintain culturally traditional forms of travel, others are experiencing changing ways of mobility. ATVs and OHVs often serve as the only travel option, becoming increasingly utilitarian, and fulfill basic mobility needs in rural communities. They present planning and safety challenges as they interact with non-motorized and more traditional motorized forms of transportation.

“OMG, I just got sued!” Understanding Legal Issues Affecting Rails to Trails Conversion

Presenters: Andrea Ferster, General Counsel, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy; Eli Griffen, Trail Development Resources Manager, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

This session will also addres legal questions on implementation of railbanking, rails-to-trails conversions, and related policy issues, including compliance with historic preservation and environmental laws, legal challenges that rail-trail managers may face, and how to avoid or respond to them.


Trail Science Research on the Appalachian Trail: Improving the Sustainability of Trails

Download Appalachian Trail Sustainability Research Study... (pdf 1.3 mb)

Download Recreation Ecology and GIS Applications... (pdf 1.8 mb)

Download AT Conditions and Sustainability... (pdf 1.7 mb)

Download Appalachian Trail Drainage Features... (pdf 2.8 mb)

Download Reducing Soil Loss Through Sustainable Trail Routing... (pdf 1.7 mb)

Presenters: Jeff Marion, U.S. Geological Survey and Virginia Tech University; Jeremy Wimpey, Applied Trails Research; Johanna Arredondo, Virginia Tech; Fletcher Meadema, Virginia Tech

The Appalachian Trail has been the focus of the largest and most comprehensive recreation ecology trail science study ever conducted. “Best Management Practice” implications applicable to all natural-surfaced trails are discussed. What are the key elements of a sustainably designed trail? What’s the most effective method for draining water from trails? How can trail stewards limit campsite expansion and resource impacts?

Build Sustainable Trails That Last 100 Years

View this presentation online...

Presenter: Michael Osborne, Five Rivers MetroParks, Dayton, Ohio

The challenges of balancing ecological protection, physical management and social demands on natural surface hiking, equestrian, mountain biking and multi-use trails can be overwhelming. However, it is possible to meet these challenges by creating sustainable trails that are designed to last into the next century.

The Devil is in the Details: Common Trail Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Download this presentation... (pdf 1.3 mb)

Presenter: Holly Larson is an Outdoor Recreation Planner for the National Park Service's Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program

Hard surfaced trails look simple on the ground, but are not as easy to design as they seem. Details that can make trails safer, more user-friendly and more accessible often get overlooked. Examples of good and bad design for details such as at-grade crossings, trail surfaces, user-specific trail specifications, bridges, tunnels, trailheads, signage and landscape elements are discussed with photos and drawings from around the U.S.

Safe Trails Begin With Marking Standards

Presenter: Dan Zabka

With over 60,000 miles of trails in all 50 states, it is critical to remain mindful of the nation’s more than 19 million miles of buried pipelines and cables. Many of these buried utilities lie underneath, or nearby trails, no matter how remote they are. This is where your trail marking standard comes into play. Not only would you be providing visible and consistent signage throughout the trail for trail users, but safe digging practices when building or working on a trail should be equally important.

How to Make Your Town a Better Place for Everyone: A Complete Streets Approach

Presenter: Caroline Duffy heads the Traffic Section for the three Ohio offices of Johnson, Mirmiran & Thompson, Inc.

For a community to adopt a complete streets policy, transportation engineers must design and operate the entire right-of-way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This session will focus on a recent highly successful example of a multiple award-winning complete streets design that revitalized the Central Business District of the Village of Fairfax, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati.

It's a Two-Way Street: Improving Safety and Connectivity with a Two-Way Cycle Track

Presenters: Brain Forschner is a strategic project leader for the City of Xenia, OH; Beth Sliemers is a traffic engineer with LJB Inc.

The City of Xenia, Ohio, is planning a protected, two-way cycle track on an existing roadway to address a concentrated confluence of bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles in a densely developed area. A multi-modal safety study of the downtown area recommended the establishment of a “road diet” on the existing five-lane roadway, replacing one of the travel lanes with a two-way protected cycle track along with Improvements to intersections and bike/pedestrian crossings.

Controlling for Conflicts: Principles of Trail Design in Close Proximity to Roadway

Presenters: Theodore A. Petritsch, Sprinkle Consulting; Chris Fellerhoff, Sprinkle Consulting

The trail design experts from Sprinkle Consulting explain the fundamentals of trail design to mitigate conflicts with motor vehicles. Topics include assigning priority at intersections, selecting the appropriate traffic control, unseen conflicts on paths parallel to roadways, and conflict mitigation strategies.

Lead with Yes for Universal Access: How to Assess and Improve Facilities and Attitudes

Presenter: Sean E. McDermott, Chief Planning and Design Officer, Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland Metroparks effort to improve accessibility involves team members from all aspects of park design, programs, and operations. Training sessions, staff-led field inspections, and public meetings have transformed the effort from a technical administrative task into a more personal challenge to engage the broader community by removing barriers to programs and facilities.


What’s in Your Volunteer Toolkit? Managing a Successful and Sustainable Volunteer Program

View this presentation online...

Presenter: Ann Baker Easley, Executive Director, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado

Explore successful and essential tools and techniques to effectively equip your organization to effectively engage and retain volunteers. Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, a nationally recognized outdoor stewardship organization, will showcase its "CO Outdoors Toolkit: Technical Assistance Guide for Advancing Outdoor Stewardship," a comprehensive guide for organizations who engage volunteers in partnership with land management agencies for on- the-ground stewardship work.

Reducing Crime One Trail at a Time

Download this presentation... (pdf 33.2 mb)

Presenters: Brittain Storck, Alta Planning + Design; Lisa Beyer, Alta Planning + Design; Jamie Rae Walker, Texas A&M Extension

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is a proactive crime fighting technique in which the proper design and effective use of the built environment can lead to a reduction in the fear of and incidents of crime. Using a multi-disciplinary, multi-pronged approach to trail planning and design, law enforcement, landscape architects, city planners, and resident volunteers can create a climate of safety on trails.

The Positive (and sometimes unintended!) Benefits of Cultivating Your Trails Community

Download this presentation... (pdf 8.6 mb)

Presenter: Nancy Desmond, Cleveland Metroparks

Hikers, runners, mountain bikers and equestrians are passionate about their trails. Intentional communication and relationship-building with them can reap many rewards. Cleveland Metroparks has successfully raised money, levy support, volunteers, and been aided in trail management issues by its trail user groups.

National Trails Day: Heightening Community Engagement on Local Trails

View National Trails Day fact sheet...

Presenter: Wesley Trimble is Program Outreach & Communications Manager for American Hiking Society

National Trails Day provides a nationwide platform to activate community engagement with trails all across the country on the first Saturday in June. This session will walk through the process of planning and promoting a National Trails Day event. Learn how to reach beyond your current constituent network and deepen community involvement with local trails.

MEGA Events: How to Get 150 or More Perfect Strangers to Build Some Awesome Trail

View presentation summary... (pdf 57 kb)

Presenters: Jeff Goetter; Ozark Trail Association; Kathie Brennan, Trail of Tears State Park

There is a lot of effort required to organize a large event and the risks associated with a poorly run event are real, but the rewards for success are substantial. These rewards include both the tangible results the day of the event and intangible rewards realized in the long run.

Why Water Trails? Local Economic Benefits, Statewide Networks, and National Tools

View this presentation online...

Presenters: Sarah Hippensteel Hall, Miami Conservancy District; Lelia R. Mellen, National Water Trail Leader, National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program; Douglas Leed, Ohio Water Trails Program

This session discusses ways to connect economics with tourism to increase support for rivers and water trails. It features a toolbox of water trail research compiled and created by the National Park Service and their supporting partners to assist with water trail and access development, landowner concerns, signage plans, and other resources to use during the public planning process.

Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly! Awareness Workshop

Presenters: Dene Berman is an American Canoe Association and Wilderness Education Association Instructor; Danielle L. Fowles is Tread Lightly! Education and Training Program Manager

Participants receive introductory training in the skills and ethics of Leave No Trace. Workshop topics include the underlying concept of minimum impact recreation and the Seven Principles of Leave No Trace. The Tread Lightly!® Awareness Course introduces the concept of an outdoor ethic and the Tread Lightly! philosophy, provides an overview of the supporting resources available through Tread Lightly! and, more importantly, educates individuals how to minimize their impacts in the outdoors by applying the T.R.E.A.D. Principles in a recreational setting.

Is It Okay If I Walk Here? Exploring Trails as an Anxious, Depressed, Neurotic Girl

Presenter: Chloe Donaldson is an interpretive trainer at the Grand Canyon National Park

Public Lands campaigns typically aim to help people connect to wild places. Many people have spoken about the challenges of inclusion, of making sure that barriers are broken down for people to claim the trail as their own, regardless of their background. But, what about those of us who find the barrier in our own brains? This session addresses the --sometimes irrational and often ridiculous-- barriers to the trail that may need to be overcome to find a place in the wild.

Native and Medicinal Plants: Maximize What Your Trail has to Offer

Presenter: Diana Druga is the president of Harrison Rail Trails, a non-profit volunteer trail group in Harrison County, WV

Ever wonder what the plant life along your trail is? Let’s get together and discuss ways to maximize what Mother Nature has to offer along our trails and how we can use that to engage community members on our trails!

Ohio Bridle Trails Take Flight: Shared Visions Establish Route to Success

Presenters: Dawn McCarthy, Wayne National Forest; Arden Sims, President, Ohio Horseman’s Council; Brian M. Zimmerman, Cleveland Metroparks; and others

The Ohio Horseman's Council was created in 1972 with a vision to advocate for horseback riding trails in Ohio. Other inspired equestrians around the state began to get involved in developing, preserving and advocating for trails, combined with their dedicated support to Ohio's equine industry. Now, Ohio has 1,600 miles of bridle trails in state and national parks and forests, private lands, and Metro parks. The Council has more than 4,200 members, all volunteers for the vision.

Trail Signage can make or break the visitor experience

Presenter: Grady Brown is President of iZone Imaging

This session focuses on ways to improve trail user experience, safety, and appreciation of public trail facilities through improved wayfinding, and regulatory and interpretive signage. The session covers the planning and design processes required to create a comprehensive trail sign program and the resulting signage applications, fabrication, and installation methods that can enhance and improve the overall trail user experience.

It is all in the Difficulty

Presenters: Karen Umphress is the IT and Project Manager for the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council; Andy Williamson is the IMBA Great Lakes Region Director

There are many ways to classify trails. Most often trails are classified first based on the type of recreation. This could be causing trail conflict or making trails not meet the needs or the recreationist. This session looks at creating or classifying trails based on width while offering a wide range of difficulty levels to meet the needs, and wants of those people using the trail.

Ohio Trails Partnership

Presenters: Andrew Bashaw, Executive Director, Buckeye Trail Association; Tom Green, President, Ohio Horseman’s Council; Andy Williamson, IMBA Great Lakes Region Director

Hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and paddlers working together? The Ohio Trails Partnership works to bring the non-motorized trail community together. We all prefer our own trail, we have our own design standards, and we all work with our land management partners. But, what do we do when there is no other option than to share trails, how do we agree to disagree yet remain partners on statewide issues of mutual concern?


Beyond Park Boundaries: Connecting Communities to Trails

View this presentation online... (pdf 6.8 mb)

View Active Transportation in National Parks fact sheet... (pdf 1.2 mb)

Presenter: Jessica Baas, Community Planner U.S.DOT Volpe Center; Krista Sherwood, Transportation Planner National Park Service; Saara Snow, Travel Initiatives Coordinator Adventure Cycling

Connecting communities with their parks and public lands by trails and other active transportation/recreation (biking and walking) initiatives provides a multitude of benefits. Learn best practices, case studies, and resources to increase active transportation connectivity between communities, national parks and tourist destinations, to be featured in a new Active Transportation “how-to” guidebook.

Leveraging People and Places: Trails as Economic Development

Presenters: David Gamble, AIA AICP, is a Lecturer in the Department of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design; Kristin Booker, ALSA, Principal, Booker Design Collaborative; Chris Schmiesing is a City Planner with the City of Piqua, Ohio

Trails offer unique opportunities for urban redevelopment given their proximity to neighborhoods and community assets. However, urban trails also pose specific challenges as they relate to history, gentrification and addressing issues of environmental contamination. This session discusses what cities in the U.S. are doing to facilitate connectivity and provide economic development opportunities for the properties that lie along former industrial corridors.

Trails: Nature’s Path to Participation in Physical Activity for All— Benefits, Experiences and Stories

Presenters: Amy Rauworth, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Lakeshore Foundation; Tip Ray is a certified UTAP/HETAP Master Trainer and trail assessment consultant

This session will highlight collaborative efforts to make trails an accessible place for all to participate in physical activity. The session covers health benefits of accessible trails and how to make it happen in your community. The role of trails in achieving physical activity guidelines, and attaining physical, social, and psychological health through outdoor activity will be discussed particularly from the perspective of grants and funding requests.

How Multi-County Trails are Creating Economic Growth in WV, VA & KY

Presenters: Debby Spencer, President WMTH Corporation; Dr. Steve Spencer, Recreation and Park Administration Program, Western Kentucky University; Tyler Spencer, University of Louisville

Learn how seven counties in one state came together under an Authority to develop trails which in three years of the first trail opening has resulted in $16.6 million in private development, 47 new businesses opening, 15 existing businesses expending, and 200 new jobs. Nine counties in another state have built six trail systems that have attracted many people, and still more partners are developing their own Authority to nurture a three-state international destination through trails.

Active Tourism Comes to Town! Making Active Transportation Work for Community Health and Economy

Presenters: Jim Carrillo, Director of Planning, Halff Associates; Dennis Blind, Regional Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture, Halff Associates

We all know that active tourism can be a perfect catalyst to increase local active transportation opportunities. But the challenge is to make it work in areas that are less scenic and with diverse populations that are new to the idea of active lifestyles. Learn about a socio-economically challenged area along the Texas/Mexico border is aggressively pursuing a county-wide active tourism plan that can transform the area.

Building Healthy Communities on the Navajo Nation

Presenters: Mark Flint, owner of Southwest Trail Solutions LLC; Ki-Jana Martinez is a land grant intern and student-athlete at Diné College; Benjamin Sorrell with the Navajo Nation Museum

Launched in 2015, the Navajo Nation Trails Initiative was developed to promote trails as pathways to physical, emotional and spiritual health, and to promote ecotourism across the stunning landscapes of the Nation. This initiative has been designed to build from the ground up, with local communities initiating trail programs that they determine best meet their needs.


The Continental Divide Trail: 3,000 Miles Along America's Spine

Presenter: Todd Soprych is a cross-country trail adventurer

Todd takes you along the Great Divide from the depths of the Great Basin to the heights of the snowcapped Rockies. This epic 3100 mile trail from Mexico to Canada will challenge and inspire as it passes through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Todd shares the joys, pains, and epic adventures from his thru-hike of this awe inspiring National Scenic Trail.

How Did It Happen? The Evolution of the National Trails System Act

Presenter: Steve Elkinton was National Park Service program leader for the National Trails System, 1989-2014

As we approach the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act of 1968, Steve examines how it came about and how it has been changed. What have been the major amendments, political cross-currents, and trends affecting the Trails System? And what might the future hold?

Ohio Buckeye's Trail: From a 1958 Idea to Today's 1400+ mile Hike

Presenter: Andrew Bashaw is the Executive Director of the Buckeye Trail Association

Without designated funding from federal, state, or local sources the people of Ohio have created their own Appalachian Trail-inspired experience for all to enjoy. Today the Buckeye Trail is support by hundreds of volunteers who devote thousands of hours so that hikers from around the world can enjoy the connection of the best natural and cultural highlights of the Buckeye State in one continuous loop trail.

America’s Trail Above the Clouds: An historical prospective of how the Appalachian Trail took flight

Presenter: Gwenyth Loose is executive director of the York County Rail Trail Authority in York, PA

From the dream of one man in 1921 to today’s 2,125+ mile footpath, the Appalachian Trail has become America’s most beloved and celebrated National Scenic Trail. The A.T. is visited by over three million people each year. This session delves into the rich history of every stage of its development from conception through advocacy, partnership building, corridor selection, land acquisition, funding, dirt moving, and maintenance strategies.

The Pacific Crest Trail: A Walk from Mexico to Canada

Presenter: Amy Anslinger spent 12 years building and managing the outdoor recreation program at Wright State University

Brent and Amy Anslinger took a five-month honeymoon hiking 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail. They share their incredible journey that took them from the arid desert of Southern California to the mountain passes of the high Sierras and into the breathtaking Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington. This National Scenic Trail passes some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

A Thru-Hiker’s Journey on the North Country Trail

Presenter: Luke “Strider” Jordan became the fourth person to successfully thru-hike the trail.

This is the story of a hiker's journey over the nation's longest scenic trail, what some call the crown jewel of the National Scenic Trail system. It's a story of struggle to overcome obstacles and to continue on in the pursuit of achieving goals and personal growth. Follow along as Luke traverses this trail of great diversity from the vast plains of North Dakota to the high peaks of the Adirondacks.

9,000 Miles On A 2,200 Mile Trail: Lessons Learned from an Appalachian Trail Hiker

Presenter: Andy Niekamp is the Chief Adventure Officer for Outdoor Adventure Connection

Andy "Captain Blue" Niekamp has been hiking the Appalachian Trail over and over since 1994. This photo journey from Georgia to Maine provides advice on mail drops, shuttles, hitchhiking, camping, and hiker hostels. Andy says "the physical and mental demands of long distance hiking are a great way to recharge one's internal batteries and get a fresh look on life."

Regional Collaboration Across 1,000s of Miles: Connecting Communities to Their Natural Heritage

Presenters: Melissa Buzzard, Iron Belle Trail Assistant Coordinator, Michigan Department of Natural Resources; Frank Maguire, Program Director, Trails and Outdoor Recreation, Pennsylvania Environmental Council; Deb Frawley, Project Coordinator for the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition

Threee Midwest projects are designed not only for their recreational aspects, but for economic impact as well. The Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition is a 1,400-mile, four-state trail vision; the Circuit Trails is a 700-mile network aiming to connect Pennsylvania communities; and Michigan's Iron Belle Trail is a 2,000 mile trail that includes both biking and hiking routes and will reconnect communities to their heritage and natural resources.


Drones and Horses: How Emerging Technology May Impact Your Trail Experience

Presenter: Claire Miller, Park/Preserve Supervisor, City of Phoenix Parks - Natural Resources Division

The session provides an overview of the various uses of drones and includes video footage of introducing horses to a drone to sensitize them to the sound and visual presence of the drone in a natural setting. It also presents some of the positive uses of drones for trail route planning and construction, reviewing maintenance needs, and search and rescue potential in a fast, cost effective, efficient manner.

Hut Operators and Land Managers: An Emerging Community of Practice

Presenter: Sam Demas is an independent researcher on hut-to-hut type accommodations systems and Editor of  www.hut2hut.info  

Learn from research on the experience of U.S. operators of systems of huts, cabins, tents, or yurts, for hiking, biking or skiing. The session presents an overview of how such systems work and the challenges in planning, permitting, building, and operating them in the USA.

The Latest in Trail Technology: Crowdsourced Data, Open Data, Maps, and Apps

Presenter: Ryan Branciforte, CEO, Trailhead Labs

This session explores what role technology plays in how people engage with trails. How can land managers use technology to publish better information to their visitor and also understand who is engaging with their parks and trails. Learn how to reach and understand new audiences, using everything from apps that get people outdoors to crowdsourced data.

What the GTFS is going on! Transit and Inter City Bus Access to the National and Regional Trail Networks

Presenter: Nathan Caldwell is the Assistant Transportation Program Manager for the US Fish and Wildlife Service

Towns along these trails derive a major economic benefit from the long distance trails and are discovering that public transit would bring additional visitors without increasing impacts on traffic and parking in the communities that serve as access to the National Trails. More international visitors who travel without personal vehicles as well as underserved populations can get access to trails and the outdoors without needing to rent or own a private vehicle.

Operating Hut - to Hut Systems: Technical Field Lessons

Presenters: Sam Demas, Editor of  www.hut2hut.info; Joe Dade, Adirondack Hamlets to Huts

Learn from research on the experience of U.S. operators of systems of huts, cabins, tents, or yurts, for hiking, biking or skiing. We will present an overview of how such systems work and the challenges in planning, permitting, building, and operating them. Topics include site selection; facilities design; working with government officials; working with community and environmental organizations; and fees, financing, insurance, business models.

At the Cross-Roads: People, Trails, and Technology in the Quad Cities

Presenter: Joe Taylor, President and CEO of the Quad Cities CVB

Quad City Health Initiative has been working since 1999 to improve the health of Quad Cities residents. Fueled with this people power, the existing trail network, innovative technology, and funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the team introduced QCTrails.org, a new website highlighting over 300 miles of land and water trails in the Quad Cities and began efforts to increase awareness of the new tool and opportunities to find trails for physical activity.


Managing International Trail Destinations: The Keys to Success

View this presentation online...

Presenters: Pranil Upadhayaya, Great Himalaya Trails Management Adviser; Mark Schmidt, Parks Canada Trail Advisor

Have you ever thought about hiking the trails through the Himalayas or the Canadian Rockies? Although these trail systems are at different sides of the world, they share many similarities. Like all great trail systems, proper management, planning, and maintenance are the keys to success.

Brazilian Trails: Promoting Greater Public Use and Appreciation of Protected Areas

Presenter: Jim Barborak is Co-Director of the Center for Protected Area Management at Colorado State University

This session reviews trail trends in Brazil, including development of interpretive trails in an Amazonian national forest; the long distance TransCarioca trail in Rio state; statewide programs such as Trails of Sao Paolo; trekking routes in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park; mountain bike routes in Brasilia National Forest; and other efforts to build and manage trails across Brazil.

Los Dos Camino: Bridging Borders Across the Centuries

Presenters: Terry Heslin, Bureau of Land Management; Aaron Mahr, National Park Service; Steven Gonzales, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro and El Camino Real de los Tejas are two national historic trails that share unique mandates to promote collaboration between Mexico and the U.S. in the trails’ development. This session explores the complex history and geography of “los dos caminos,” ways the two countries have sought to commemorate the trails, and the challenges and successes of working towards the goals of creating international trails.

Ancient Trails, New Journeys: Preparing Nepal’s Rural Trails for Future

Presenter: Nar Bahadur Lama, SAMARTH Nepal Market Development Program

Natural disasters have resulted not only in the slowdown of visitors and their spending but thousands of people risk losing their occupation. The key actors of tourism industry consisting of public and private sector of Nepal have been working to restore, develop and transform these ancient trails to sustainably benefit local communities, entrepreneurs, and satisfy visitors now and in future.


American Trails

P.O. Box 491797
Redding, CA 96049-1797
(530) 605-4395

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