Trail Planning & Construction

Trail ConstructionA comprehensive trails plan is helpful when considering creating or updating a trail. Resources on this page can help you learn more about many aspects of trail planning and construction.

Beginning a trails project can be intimidating but don’t let it overwhelm you! This page is a list of resources to help you get started either with a single trail or a comprehensive trails plan. There are many resources already available, so instead of reinventing the wheel, this page will direct you to existing resources and then localize trails plans to Arizona. This page includes a list of county, city, regional, park and other trails plans that exist in Arizona and gives examples of costs for recent trail projects in the state.

Existing Resources

The American Trails website has a comprehensive resource listing for trail building, planning, advocacy, management and more: American Trails Resource Library.

The Federal Highway Administration has a listing of manuals and guides for trail design, construction, maintenance, and operation, and for signs: Federal Highway Adminsitration Manuals and Guides.

How To Get Started Creating a Map of a Trail(s)

The steps to finding or creating a map will vary depending on its purpose, available resources, and time frame.

Finding out what maps already exists (don’t forget about aerial photographs) may be a good place to start. Your search may take you online, to a map or book store, the offices of government agencies, educational institutions, or private businesses.

If you don’t find an existing map for your needs then you will have to create one. Using GPS (Global Positioning System) and GIS (Geographic Information System) to make a map is a great option. You don’t need to be an expert or acquire expensive hardware and software because many city, county, state, and federal offices will have GPS and GIS resources to create a map for your project and they may provide this service at no cost.

Another possibility if you like to do things yourself is to purchase less expensive products such as Garmin’s GPSMAP 76S and using their Mapsource program on your personal computer you can prepare a simple and accurate map of a trail or trail system.

Links to Mapping Resources:

USGS Topographic Maps 

Google Maps 

Garmin Mapping Software and Equipment 

ESRI GIS & Mapping Software 

Trail Plans

Trails plans can vary greatly depending on the overall goal of the plan but there are common components of most trail plans. Below are two sample table of contents for either a basic trail plans or a more comprehensive trails plan. Look at both and pick the elements that are best suited for your plan.

Sample table of contents for simple trails plan: suitable for smaller agencies, associations or volunteers. Download Sample Table of Contents: Simple Plan (20 KB PDF)

Sample table of contents for a comprehensive trails plan: suitable for jurisdictional employees. Download Sample Table of Contents: Comprehensive Plan (30 KB PDF)

Links to Actual Arizona Trail Plans:

To see example Trails Plans from around the state download the list of links. 
Download Example Arizona Trails Plans (64 KB PDF)

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