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Trail Planning and Construction

Starting any trails project may be daunting. Whether it be a trailhead facility, a short connector trail or a longer recreational trail, planning these types of projects may be made easy, even for the smallest community. Scroll through the information below to get answerers to your questions.

Existing Resources:
Manuals and Guides for Trail Design, Construction, Maintenance, and Operation – Federal Highway Administration

Trail Construction and Maintenance Handbook – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service

Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails – USDA Forest Service

Equestrian Design Guidebook for Trails, Trailheads and Campgrounds – USDA Forest Service and Federal Highway Administration

Wetland Trail Design and Construction – USDA Forest Service

10 Most Common Trail-Builder Mistakes – International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA)

Trail Solutions:
IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack -- IMBA

Recreational Trail Design and Construction: University of Minnesota Extension

Recommended Surfacing:
  • Natural
  • Decking
  • Concrete
  • Crushed Limestone

There are several considerations when deciding what type of surface to use for a trail in Nebraska. Here are a few of them:

Surface maintenance:
While asphalt is less expensive than concrete, it requires more maintenance due to its reaction to the freeze-thaw cycle.

Topography:
Is the trail set in a natural or more urban environment? It may be beneficial to blend in with the surroundings to get the best experience for the trail users. Specific surfacing is required in areas that have wetlands.

Type of trail user:
Is the trail to be for multiple users? How will it meet accessibility guidelines? Will this be a high-traffic trail? It is recommended that a trail for equestrians be a natural surface and a high-traffic commuter trail in an urban area be made of concrete.

Costs:
If money is an issue, this may dictate what type of material, if any, is used. An entity may establish a trail system and upgrade it later.

Sample Trail Costs: Trail costs will differ across the state depending on the distance traveled to get the material to build a trail. Work with an engineer to determine reasonable costs. An engineer can determine what is needed with the topography of your trail location.

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