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Hard Surface Multiple Use Trails

Site Preservation, Restoration, and Revegetation

As much as feasible, modifications to site landforms and vegetation should be returned to a self-sustaining
native or near-native ecosystem that blends into the surrounding area. This effort begins with careful site and
vegetation planning in the project design phase, continues through the various phases of construction, and is
completed with revegetation at the completion of the project.

Trail closure
Closing existing trails, especially eroded trails, is a site restoration effort. Depending on the visibility of the
closed trail and the severity of the damage, the effort required to restore the closed trail can be small or
major. Guidelines for restoring trails are given at the end of this topic.

Site Preservation
• Initial planning for the trail corridor and trail alignment should consider the balance
between site disturbance and site preservation, and the project design should embody this
balance. In general, as much of the site as possible should be protected from disturbance
unless the disturbance is a planned improvement to the site which overcomes an existing
deficiency or problem.

• In initial planning, consider using the trail as a means of site repair, i.e., placing the
trail in the most disturbed part of the site so that the disturbance is replaced by the trail.
Where site repair is used, other parts of the site not directly affected by the trail may also
need to be restored and revegetated.

• In initial planning, locate any culverts and drainage crossings and decide on
appropriate drainage crossing techniques to minimize disturbance to drainage channels.

• In initial trail staking, clearly mark the limits of construction activity. Any trees, rocks,
or other natural features that are to be preserved but are close to or within the construction
zone should be conspicuously marked for construction crews. In ecologically sensitive areas,
consider fencing the construction zone boundary during the construction period (as long as
the fence does not interfere with wildlife).

• The initial clearing pass to remove brush should be conservative so that vegetation
is not unnecessarily removed.

• To help with later site restoration efforts, consider removing and stockpiling about
20-30% of dead tree stumps and trunks, surface rocks, and other natural features which can
be replaced later in a naturalistic pattern (see Site Restoration, following).

• Remove and stockpile topsoil on site before beginning grading operations.

• Avoid disturbing the bottoms and sides of natural drainage channels whenever

• Minimize unnecessary disturbance by using heavy equipment of the appropriate size

to do the job.

• Use straw bales, erosion control blankets, siltation screens, and other methods as
needed to prevent silt-laden runoff from reaching waterways or damaging areas outside the
construction zone.

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Site Restoration
• In constructing and shaping cut and fill slopes and disturbed areas, study and try to copy the
natural variation of undisturbed topography in order to add a naturalistic variation to constructed
surfaces. Unless the undisturbed site is very uniform, constructed surfaces should look as much as
possible like extensions of the existing topography with naturalistic small-scale variations instead of
uniform smooth surfaces.

• Feather slopes and constructed surfaces into undisturbed terrain so that the edge is not
apparent once revegetated.

• Replace topsoil on disturbed surfaces.

• Terrace slopes with contours or horizontal pockets that trap runoff and let it soak into the

• If natural rocks, dead tree stumps, dead shrubs, and fallen tree trunks were stockpiled
earlier, consider using them to help blur the edges of large areas of new construction. Place these
near the outer edges of disturbed areas in locations similar to where they were originally so that the
undisturbed rocks and vegetation appear to creep into the new construction zone. Carefully place
dead trees near live trees of the same type, place tree trunks and branches such that they look like
they naturally fell there, and embed rocks below rock outcrops as if pieces have fallen off. Do not,
however, try to create entire wooded areas or rock outcrops - this never looks realistic.

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Site Revegetation
• Revegetation should be performed in stages as the project progresses - as each section of
the trail is finished (or, on longer projects, as the grading is finished), revegetation should be
done for at least grasses and ground stabilizers.

• Identify native onsite plants and revegetate with an appropriate mixture of these native
plants if possible.

• In ecologically sensitive area, avoid introducing new species and plants of the same species
but with different genetics. In such sensitive areas, it may be best to not plant anything but
instead to simply prepare and mulch the seedbed with a seed-free erosion control/mulch
blanket. A more difficult alternative is to harvest native seeds from around the site and plant
these seeds (perhaps volunteers can be enlisted to do this).

• Planting patterns for grasses, trees, shrubs, and ground covers should extend existing
undisturbed vegetation patterns into the construction zone to replace what was once there, or
to produce a naturalistic version of what might have been there.

• For new plantings, select low-maintenance low-water species using native species whenever

• Use a straw mulch or hydromulch on flat or near-flat areas. Use straw, hydromulch, or
erosion control blankets as needed to revegetate steeper slopes.

• On dry hillsides in poor soils, revegetation efforts should concentrate on getting plants to
grow in contours and constructed pockets.

• The type of plants and the formality of plantings should complement the natural and man-
made plantings around the site and neighborhood. The trail corridor should either seem like 1)
part of an adjacent undisturbed area, 2) part of the native ecosystem if one is present, or 3) an
extension of the neighborhood if extensive development has masked or replaced the native
ecosystem. Achieving this blend takes precedence over the other guidelines in this list.

• New plants must be watered as necessary to help them get established. This may require 3-
5 times the first year and during drought months as necessary.

• Irrigation systems can be installed as needed, but the use of vegetation which needs
constant maintenance is discouraged unless necessary to match neighborhood context.

• Plantings should not reduce trail sightlines below standards.

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Trail Closure

Example of trail closure and re-vegetation using geosynthetics, grass seed and bioengineering techniques on
Ganaraska Trail system. Stakes shown are 30 cm live willow stakes in addition live willow fascines have
been added to facilitate slope drainage. Willows will eventually root and grow into shrubs. Geotextile used is
SC-200 straw matting.

• If the closed trail has eroded into a trench, fill the visible ends to bring the level back up to
the original ground level and install check dams and erosion control blankets as necessary to protect
the fill. Checkdams can be logs from dead trees on site, low stone walls, or charred logs (surface
charring preserves the wood without chemical treatment).

• In other areas of severe erosion, which are not visible from other established trails or access
points, build checkdams in the bottom of the trench to prevent it from becoming any deeper.

• In less-eroded areas, scarify (break up and loosen) compacted soil and reseed it with a
native grass mix matching onsite grasses and vegetation.

• If possible, blend the visible ends of the closed trail into the surrounding undisturbed area by
extending adjacent rocky areas, vegetation patterns, fallen trees and branches, and other natural
objects into the closed end.

• Emulate natural patterns - plant dead stumps with their roots buried, drop dead branches
under trees as if they fell off the tree, and cover the bare ground with a natural layer of organic debris
(needles under conifers, leaves under deciduous trees, dry grass in grassy areas). Often, these
techniques can visually erase a trail without planting of any kind.

• Post the closure with a sign if needed. If possible provide a temporary alternate route.

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Features for the Physically Challenged

Install log or stone check dams in
the bottom of the trail. Dig these
into the sides of the trail so that
they form dams that trap Hard surface trails can be excellent fully-accessible facilities for the physically challenged, and while any
sediment behind them hard surface trail designed and built to the standards in this Handbook will be accessible, a few
considerations can improve the safety, mobility, and enjoyment of wheelchair users.
All or parts of the adjacent soft surface trail, if any, should be built to be barrier-free where feasible (see
guidelines in Crusher Fines Trails for the Physically Challenged, p. 3-49).

Physically-challenged users and a philosophy for accessible facilities

The following three concepts and guidelines form a basis for the philosophy of accessibility:

1. Wheelchair users and others with mobility impairments prefer that accessibility be designed
into the facility from the start, providing a seamless integration that does not draw attention to
accessibility features or to physically-challenged users themselves. Therefore, make every effort
to quietly and subtly integrate accessibility into trails and associated facilities.

2. Physically challenged trail users generally also want to be able to take the same risks and
have the same adventures as other users. While this is not practical in the conventional sense,
the trail system can allow a measured risk for wheelchair users by not installing railings and
wheelguards at every possible dangerous point. Therefore, use wheelguards and railings only
judiciously and only where their use benefits all users.

3. Lastly, some physically challenged users would like the freedom to get off the path. This
should be possible on level or nearly level areas beside the trail. Some wheelchair users would

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also like to get out of their chairs, and the trail system can make this easier with the use of
seating walls (described below). Therefore, create or use suitable level areas and/or seating
walls where these can be provided in a subtle, integrated, logical way that is consistent with the

Concrete versus Asphalt

While both concrete and asphalt surfaces are considered accessible, concrete is considered the more
accessible of the two because of its hard smooth surface and stability over time.

Trailhead Accessibility

Formally constructed trailheads for hard surface trails must include reserved parking for wheelchair users. To
provide better trailhead accessibility, provide a hard surface for at least the reserved parking area and trail
access route - the hard surface material can be the same as the trail surface to reduce costs. If the parking
area does not have a hard surface, at least the reserved parking space and trail access route should be
surfaced with crusher fines or other aggregate that forms a relatively smooth and hard surface.

Consider consulting the physically challenged on design issues

No one understands the needs of the physically challenged better than those who are themselves physically
challenged. In addition to the guidelines given below, consider consulting physically challenged persons as to
what can be done to make a given site barrier-free, safe, and enjoyable for everyone. Small details often
make a big difference, and a great deal may be done at minimal or no additional expense or effort if these
details can be planned in and built in from the start.

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Hard Surface Trail and Accessible Features Design Guidelines

1. Try to avoid trail grades over 5%. Pushing or manually moving a wheelchair on a grade over 5% is

2. Try to break long grades. Grade breaks provide rest stops on long continuous grades.

3. Keep accessibility features inconspicuous while providing for all users. Try to avoid using special
ramps, switchbacks, railings, and other features which are obviously only for wheelchair users. Instead,
as mentioned above, design hard surface trails to simply be accessible without special features. Railings
and wheelstops should benefit all users, even if wheelstops only benefit psychologically. Allow 42” of
width clearance for the wheelchair user.

4. Take the user’s eye level into account. Wheelchair users see the world from a lower eye level than
standing users. What may be visible to a standing person may not be visible from a wheelchair. In
particular, railings often have a horizontal member exactly at the eye level of wheelchair users.

5. Minimize grades at drainage crossings. Instead of possibly sharply dipping down and back up at
drainage crossings, establish a trail grade which dips only slightly, or which uses a bridge, culvert, or fill
to span the drainage with minimal grades on the approaches.

6. Try to design circulation patterns that do not tempt general users to shortcut trails.
Whenever possible, try not to use switchbacks, dead ends, or other alignments which create temptations
for general users to shortcut the trail. Try to link features with the trail in such a way that users flow easily
from one feature to the next without excessive grades and without taking an obviously roundabout route.
Optimizing circulation in this way will often limit and dictate those features the trail can access. On a
dead-end spur parallel to the main trail, consider a staircase or a formal foot trail from the end of the spur
back to the main trail.

7. Provide areas to get off the trail where feasible. Wheelchairs can maneuver in grass and soft
surfaces. Where feasible, locate the trail such that level or nearly level areas are barrier-free to trail users
(i.e., no swales or slopes between the trail and the off-trail area). These areas do not need hardened or
special surfaces, or any special treatment other than to be relatively free of wheel-catching holes and
rocks. These areas should not be marked or signed in any way.

8. Provide seating walls for all users where feasible. A seating wall is simply a low retaining wall
whose top is at the same height as the chair seat in a wheelchair. Chair users can then move next to the
wall and transfer from the chair to the top of the wall without moving themselves up or down. The wall
should have a smooth stable top (a timber or concrete retaining wall works best) with a gently sloped
grassy or softer area behind the wall on which mobility-impaired users can comfortably move around.

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Equestrian Trails

Handling user conflicts
User conflicts on trails open to equestrians usually stem from lack of knowledge of who yields to whom.
Commonly accepted trail etiquette is that all other users yield to horses. On trails where user conflicts are
likely or have become a problem, make it known to users that horses always have the right-of-way.

Another user conflict can be inadvertent - spooked horses. Brightly colored clothing, bicyclists, and other
common sights and sounds on trails can spook some horses, potentially injuring the rider and possibly
others. Horses tend to be particularly spooked by sudden actions, fast motions, bright colors, and actions or
sounds occurring behind them. On trails with moderate to heavy equestrian use, consider posting information
on bulletin boards on how to act around horses.

Equestrian responsibility
Like all other users, equestrians are expected to act responsibly on trails. Regulations for equestrian trails
should state that 1) equestrian users have some responsibility to spook-proof their horses and 2) that
equestrians should not use soft-surface trails when wet.

Trail clearance
Horse trails require a minimum of 10' overhead clearance. Side clearance from the edge of the trail is 36”
preferred, 12” minimum.

Trail surface
Equestrians prefer non-paved surfaces, although paved surfaces can be used. The adjacent soft surface trail
of a hard surface path can be used for equestrians in many cases (see below). Crusher fines used on trails
open to equestrians should optimally have a strong matrix of larger particles to resist the grinding and kicking
motion of horse hooves (see Crusher Fines Characteristics, p. 3-4). On a multiple use trail with little
equestrian traffic, however, optimize the crusher fines for pedestrian traffic.

Equestrian Trail Maintenance

• Horses on wet soft surface trails can create serious damage that must be repaired.

• Depending on the amount of use, horse manure may need to be removed at intervals.

• Heavy equestrian use on soft surface trails may lead to rutting as numerous horses all follow the same
narrow path. If this occurs, the trail may require the addition of crusher fines in order to correct drainage
and restore the trail to its original condition. If a rut forms but is not repaired, trail washouts can occur as
drainage features begin to fail.

Criteria for Determining Equestrian Access

• Avoid equestrian trails on asphalt or concrete whenever possible (except as stated below).

• Keep horses off of crusher fines trails with grades exceeding 6%. If horses are using an adjacent soft
surface trail with grades over 6%, have equestrians transfer to the hard surface to bypass those steep

• Keep horses off of boardwalks.

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• Box culvert underpasses and other tunnel-like situations disqualify a trail for equestrian usage unless the
tunnel can be safely bypassed.

• If a trail crosses a narrow bridge, consider adding a horse ford. If a ford is not feasible but equestrians
are to be accommodated, the bridge should be at least 6’ wide.

• Blind curves and short sightlines can increase the danger or likelihood of user conflicts or spooked
horses. Trails with either of these should be given a lower consideration for equestrian use.

• A horse on a saturated crusher fines or natural surface trail can cause serious trail damage - literally
leaving the trail full of holes. Crusher fines trails subject to occasional saturation should be considered
closed to equestrians during saturated periods. This should not pose a problem since responsible
equestrians are aware of the damage that horses can cause on wet trails.

• Horse manure on trails is an unavoidable problem. If the problem becomes objectionable, first try to
discourage or disperse equestrian usage by channeling equestrians onto other trails. If this doesn’t work,
consider closing the trail to equestrians. The Collingwood Trails Network can define “objectionable” on a
case-by-case basis.

• Urban trails in general should receive only a low consideration for equestrian use, perhaps with a policy
of permitted but not encouraged equestrian use.

Cross-Country Ski Trails

Cross-country ski access policy
As a non-destructive use, cross-country skiers may be able to use designated or non-designated trails when
site conditions permit. Trails can, however, be explicitly closed to cross-country ski use if they are unsafe to
users or if unacceptable resource damage or wildlife impact has or can be expected to occur.

Cross-country ski only trails

The Town can also optionally create wintertime routes for cross-country skiers. These can either be 1) trails
designed and built explicitly for cross country use or 2) routes which require no structural groundwork and
are not detectable as trails in other seasons. These trails and routes can optionally be groomed and signed
as needed.

Cross-country ski trail clearance

Vertical clearance should be 7-8’ above the highest average snow depth (possibly more if grooming
machines are used). Areas with deep snow may need a vertical clearance of 16’ above dry ground.

For a single track, the track width should be at least 12” with 30” of side clearance on each side. On grades
and curves where users will snowplow, side clearance should increase to 4-5’ on each side of the track. A
skate lane requires an 8’ track with 1’ of clearance on each side.

Trail grades
Trail grades of 0-10% are optimum for recreational and non-expert skiers.

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Factors in Determining Cross-Country Ski Use of Regular Trails

In general, the best cross-country trails are those designed explicitly to be ski trails. Depending on the trail
and winter site conditions, well-designed and constructed hard surface and soft surface trails may not serve
as well as cross-country trails (or may not be as interesting as designed cross-country ski trails). Nonethe-
less, cross-country ski use on regular trails can serve recreational and transportation functions. Following are
some factors for determining cross-country ski use of regular trails:

• Bike paths and wider multiple use trails - because of their tread width, clearance require-
ments, and grade and alignment restrictions - can often be used as cross-country ski trails without
modification, especially in open areas with no vertical clearance restrictions. Underpasses and grade
crossings may cause interruptions in the snow surface.

• The decision on whether to plow a hard surface trail, groom it for cross-country ski use, or
leave it unimproved for skiing use should be made on a case-by-case basis. The decision should
depend on the suitability of the particular trail for cross-country ski use and the cost/benefits of
pedestrian vs. ski use, or no provided winter use.

• Soft surface trails can optionally be groomed but should never be plowed.

• Grooming a trail will lengthen the snowmelt time in the spring. For a crusher fines trail,
grooming may also increase the amount of time the fines could be saturated. The importance of
early springtime use should be weighed in the grooming decision.

• The wide clearance requirements for cross-country ski use (especially on grades and
curves) may disqualify many adjacent soft surface trails and narrower trails in wooded areas or on
steep cross slopes.

• Trails with south or west facing slopes may not be able to hold enough snow for uninter-
rupted skiing. Drifting or wind patterns may create local disruptions in the snow surface.

• If a groomed trail has a bridge, the bridge must be built to handle both the snow load and the
width and weight of the grooming equipment.

• On any bridge, groomed or not, deep snow can raise the track level toward or above the
level of the railings, creating a potential safety problem. It may be necessary to occasionally clear
some or all snow off a bridge to prevent this, or to widen the bridge so that users can ski down the
middle without coming too close to the sides. Mitigation measures should be based on the risk and
consequences of falling off the bridge - a low bridge with deep snow below it poses very little risk
compared to a high bridge over an icy stream. The size and number of openings in the bridge railing
has little effect on the ability of the bridge to hold snow, but larger openings make it easier to remove
snow from the bridge.

• Design details for trails exclusively for cross-country ski use are beyond the scope of this
specification. Consult experts or other literature for design guidance.

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Hard Surface Multiple Use Trail Maintenance

Concrete, asphalt, crusher fines, boardwalk, and underpasses

For concrete or asphalt trail surface maintenance specifications, see “Concrete and Asphalt Maintenance”
under Hard Surface Materials: Concrete and Asphalt, p. 2-17.
For adjacent crusher fines surface trail maintenance, see Crusher Fines Trail Maintenance, p.3-52.
For boardwalk maintenance, see “Boardwalk Maintenance” under Boardwalk, p. 2-93.
For underpass maintenance, see “Maintenance” under Underpasses, p. 2-38.

Inspection, Maintenance, and Preventive Maintenance Checklist

The trail maintenance program is designed to find and fix all problems while they are still small. This calls for
frequent inspections and maintenance that should be relatively easy and inexpensive. Since most repairs are
minor when corrected early, most of the regular maintenance should be possible to perform with 1-2 people.

1. Inspect the hard trail surface for cracks or damage

Check the entire trail surface for damage. For concrete, check for cracks, heaved sections, or spalling
(flaking of the surface). If the concrete was properly installed, these problems should not occur for many

For asphalt, check for cracks, potholes, crumbling edges, or surface dryness (lack of asphalt oil on the
surface). Look for evidence that the seal coats are still sealing the surface and creating a waterproof layer.
Spot seal any cracks found.

Look for evidence of water and sediment deposited on the trail from above. If the problem occurs frequently,
an inside swale or other drainage system should optionally be installed to keep sediment off the trail.
If the trail needs sweeping, have this done. Keep track of the times when the path needs to be swept in order
to build a sweeping schedule for the path.

2. On the adjacent soft surface trail, inspect the trail surface, drainage dips, and grade dips
for water damage
See Crusher Fines Trail Maintenance, p. 3-52, for specifications.

3. Inspect side swales and culverts

Inspect for the effects of too much water, too much sediment, or poor drainage.

If the bottoms of side swales show erosion (other than erosion of bare soil before the vegetation cover is
restored), an intermediate culvert or other means of draining the swale at more intervals should be installed.
In extreme cases, riprap can also be added to the bottom of the swale to harden the swale channel against

Inspect culvert headwalls and tailwalls for settling and water damage. If settling, erosion, or water damage is
occurring to these structures, identify the source of the problem and repair it.

If the outlet below a culvert is eroding, add riprap beneath the outlet. Use all sizes of rocks in the riprap to try
to create a more naturalistic appearance.

If a swale or culvert is beginning to fill with leaves or sediment, clean it out long before it fills. If sediment is
the cause, find the source of the sediment and, if possible, reduce the amount of sediment flowing into the
swale or culvert. If the sediment is crusher fines from the trail, the source of the trail washout should be

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4. Inspect and repair all trail structures

Carefully inspect all trail and trailside structures (including retaining walls, bridges, drainage crossings,
railings, signs, fences, etc.) for any damage caused by humans or the elements. Any damage that
compromises the functionality or aesthetics of these structures should be repaired, as should any minor
damage that will become worse in time if not repaired now.

5. Inspect and repair revegetation efforts

Carefully inspect all revegetation efforts. All plantings should be at the appropriate stage of growth depending
on the season and when they were planted. Any areas that are stunted or behind schedule should be

Any erosion in revegetated areas should be stopped through the use of erosion control blankets, bales of hay
or straw, diverting site drainage, or other appropriate means. The eroded areas should be reseeded or
replanted (if the time of year is appropriate), then protected by mulch or erosion control blankets as
necessary. See Site Preservation, Restoration, and Revegetation p. 2-103, for details.

In maintenance during the spring, replace plantings that did not survive the winter unless site or growing
conditions indicates otherwise. For future reference, keep records of which plants do best and worst under
their site conditions.

6. Perform general cleanup and repairs

The high-quality public image of the trails and open space property must be maintained. All litter, no matter
how small, should be picked up and hauled off the site. Any vandalism or graffiti should be fixed or removed.
Any fallen branches or trees on trails should be removed, as should any live or dead trees that are likely to
fall on the trail. In ecologically sensitive or pristine areas, removed wood can be scattered close to where it
fell in order to preserve the local chain of growth and decay. In less sensitive or developed areas, removed
woody material should either be hauled off, mulched in a chipper and reused onsite, or broken into smaller
pieces and left to decay in widely scattered spots on the site - do not form piles or obvious dumping places.

7. Examine any social trails

“Social” trails are unplanned, unofficial trails created by users, usually by shortcutting. Any social trails, which
have begun to emerge, should be noted and monitored. Find the reason why people are creating the social
trail, and if there is good reason for a trail to be there, consider making the trail official now or in the future.
Making the trail official means that the trail will need to be designed, constructed, maintained, and managed
according to the standards in this Handbook.

If the social trail is damaging the site or could damage it in the future or if a trail is inappropriate in that
location, close the trail and post the closure (see Signs, p. 2-68). The closure will have to be enforced, and
that enforcement will need to become part of the management plan for the main trail and/or the Town

Hard Surface Trail Inspection and Maintenance Schedule

Most serious potential maintenance problems with the trail surface can be identified and corrected in the first
year. Correcting problems early saves a great deal of damage, time, expense, and inconvenience later.

First Year

Inspection and maintenance are more frequent during the first year in order to find and correct problems
early. Some of the following inspections can be combined (i.e., performed at the same time) if they would be
scheduled separately within the same 6-week period. In scheduling first year maintenance, adhere more to
the purpose of frequent and timely inspections than strict dates.

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After the first hard rain
For hard surface trails, look for water damage or washouts along shoulders, side swales, and culvert outlets.
If any damage occurs after only one rain, the problem will be major very soon. Some reconstruction may be
necessary, including the substantial modification or addition of new drainage features. One qualified person
can perform the inspection and note the problems, and a crew of 1-4 should be able to repair them. Also
inspect revegetation efforts to make sure these have not been damaged by runoff. For the adjacent soft
surface trail, see “After the first hard rain” in Crusher Fines Trail Maintenance, p. 3-52.

After two months or several moderate rains

After several good rains, two months, or September 1 - whichever comes first - perform all
inspection/maintenance items to find and repair problems before winter. The inspection should be done no
later than September 1 to allow time for repairs.

This inspection should again concentrate on repair of all drainage features. Trail structures and revegetation
should also receive special attention. Any social trails, which have begun to appear, should be evaluated and
handled as described in the maintenance checklist.

Every 6-8 weeks during the usage season

Complete inspection and maintenance should be performed every 6-8 weeks throughout the usage season.
Any damage found should be repaired while it is minor, and minor damage that could lead to more extensive
damage later should be fixed now. Do not wait to repair any problems with trail drainage or trail structures.

Joint inspection by the County and trails contractors

At 4-6 months after completion of the trail (or before winter, whichever comes first), a major onsite design
and construction review should be conducted with representatives of the County and trails contractors. All
inspections should be performed jointly by all parties, and all parts of the maintenance checklist should be
performed. The hard trail surface, drainage features, revegetation effort, and all trail structures should be
thoroughly inspected. See Section 1 Part L for details.

This maintenance can be combined with another scheduled maintenance if both would be scheduled within
the same 6-week period.

About September 1 each year

Perform complete inspection and maintenance to make the trail and site improvements ready for winter. Pay
special attention to trail drainage features in order to prepare the trail for its first highly erosive spring

This maintenance can be combined with another scheduled maintenance if both would be scheduled within
the same 6-week period.

Each Subsequent Year

During spring snowmelt (adjacent soft surface trail only)

If there is an adjacent crusher fines trail, perform the inspection/repair given in “During spring snowmelt”
under Crusher Fines Trail Maintenance, p. 3-52.

In the spring
Once the snow has largely melted but before vegetation emerges, perform the maintenance checklist again.
A small maintenance crew of 1-4 workers should be able to fix most of whatever problems may have
occurred. Special attention should be given to preventive maintenance and to all aspects of trail drainage.

Swales and culverts should be checked to make sure they are not clogged or are becoming clogged with
leaves or sediments. The source of any erosion of shoulders or swales should be diverted and the erosion

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Every 6-8 weeks during the usage season
Complete inspection and maintenance should be performed every 6-8 weeks throughout the usage season.
Any damage found should be repaired while it is minor, and minor damage that could lead to more extensive
damage later should be fixed now. Do not wait to repair any problems with trail drainage or trail structures.

About September 1 each year

Perform complete inspection and maintenance to make the trail and site improvements ready for winter and
the spring snowmelt.

Notes on Maintenance beyond the Second Year

In the third year and after, routine maintenance should become easier and less extensive. The troublesome
spots along the trail will be known (and hopefully already corrected). Maintenance of side swales and
culverts will always be ongoing. Plants introduced through revegetation should be firmly established. Asphalt
trails will need periodic resealing as described under Hard Surface Trails: Concrete and Asphalt, p. 2-17.
Concrete trail surfaces should be virtually maintenance-free.

For the adjacent crusher fines trail, see “Notes on Maintenance beyond the Second Year” in Crusher Fines
Trail Maintenance, p. 3-52.

Trail structures may begin to need more extensive maintenance as they age and settle, particularly fences,
retaining walls, culvert headwalls, railings, signs, and bridges. This maintenance should be done as needed
to maintain the high-quality public image of the trail system. The goal of this maintenance, however, is not to
keep everything shiny and new without signs of age. The natural aging of materials is highly valued as long
as that aging does not become an eyesore or compromise the physical integrity of the structure. As
structures age gracefully, repairs should attempt to preserve and enhance the positive aspects of age.

The creation of new social trails will diminish if consistent efforts were made earlier to close or make social
trails official. If usage of the main trail greatly increases, however, user pressure will likely create new social

In general, if trail usage increases over time or exceeds the usage level for which the trail was built,
maintenance will increase.

Major structures
A competent inspector should inspect major structures that affect user safety such as bridges, large retaining
walls, and railings. Generally, this will not be necessary for the first 15 years, and possibly every 5-10 years
after that depending on the structure. A bridge or retaining wall designed or constructed correctly should not
need to be completely replaced for 50 years.

If a structure is extensively damaged (flood, landslide, foundation failure, overload, structural failure), it
should be inspected and repaired or rebuilt as necessary.

Signs may need to be replaced every 10 years depending on their condition. Signs should be replaced if they
become dilapidated to the point that their aging is seen as an eyesore instead of as an interesting character.

2-115 Trails Design and Management Planning Handbook