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Understanding Accessibility and Building Better Trails

Sustainable trails provide better accessibility for all users while meeting goals of cost-effective, long-term maintenance.

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Florida Accessibility workshop for trail managers


By Pam Gluck, Executive Director, American Trails

The goal of this one-day workshop is to teach participants

Sustainability has many facets, including environmental, social and economic sustainability. Sustainable trails are better for the environment because they minimize trail impacts on the surrounding environment. Trail users of all abilities benefit from and contribute to the social sustainability of the trail. A broader spectrum of trail users builds more public support for the trail and the benefits that it provides.

Sustainable trail design ensures a high probability of compliance with the proposed recreation trail accessibility guidelines. Sustainable trails are also better from an economic perspective because of the decreased costs for maintenance and environmental protection.

The agenda for the workshop is as follows:

8:00 - 9:30 - Sustainable Trail Design

9:30 - 10:30 - Accessibility and Legal Issues

10:30 - 10:45 - Break

10:45 - 12:00 - Introduction to Universal Trail Assessment Process

12:00 - 13:00 - Lunch

13:00 - 14:30 - On-the-Trail Practical Session

14:30 - 14:45 - Break

14:45 - 16:15 - Solving Participant Problems

16:15 - 16:30 - Q & A and wrap-up

The following are brief descriptions of each of the workshop sessions:

Sustainable Trail Design

This classroom presentation will examine current best practices in terms of the environmental, social and economic sustainability of trails. The benefits to the environment, land managers and trail users will be discussed.

Accessibility and Legal Issues

Updates on current proposals for recreation trail accessibility guidelines (Access Board and/or USDA Forest Service) will be presented. The match between "best practices" for sustainable trail design and these guidelines will also be discussed.

Universal Trail Assessment Process

This presentation will discuss the benefits of having objective measurements of the on-trail conditions for identifying and monitoring potential problems in terms of trail sustainability. Case studies will be used to illustrate the benefits of objective trail information for both users and land managers.

On-the-Trail Practical Session

This session will allow participants to walk a trail with an eye to applying the information learned during the morning sessions. Evidence of poor sustainability on the trail will be identified, assessment measurement techniques will be demonstrated, and potential causes and remedies discussed.

Solving Participant Problems

Workshop participants will be given the opportunity to submit photos, maps and other materials that document a particular area of concern on their own trails. The primary concern must be related to the implications of the trail conditions for compliance with the proposed recreation trail accessibility guidelines. This session will present the problems submitted by workshop participants for discussion by the whole group and project recommendations from the workshop instructors.

arrowSee additional workshops offered by American Trails for local groups to host


The National Trails Training Partnership

American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 • (530) 605-4395 • Fax: (530) 547-2035 •

The National Trails Training Partnership is an alliance of Federal agencies, training providers, nationwide supporters, and providers of products and services. Visit the online calendar of training opportunities, access hundreds of trail-related resources, read the news, learn how you can help, and see training resources in your state.

This material is based upon work supported by the Federal Highway Administration under Cooperative Agreement DTFH61-06-H-00023. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the Author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Federal Highway Administration.



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