April 17, 2023
By Jordan Gedrose, Landscape Architect, WSB
As Spring emerges, trail use will be in full swing with joggers, walkers, and bikers. When looking at the types of recreational trails, such as gravel, concrete, and bituminous, bituminous is the most common type of trail. Bituminous, also known as asphalt trails, are used in high pedestrian trafficked areas and are often the more cost-effective trail option.
Trail maintenance is essential for trail user safety, accessibility, and trail preservation. It means creating equitable communities where all residents have access to similar-quality trails and outdoor amenities.
Here are four trail maintenance tips for communities, especially after a winter of record snowfall.
- Seasonal Trail Inspections
Municipalities must inspect trails during each seasonal transition. Each part of the year brings new weather that can impact the usability of a trail, and as temperatures warm up and snow melts, cities need to inspect trails to be ready for increased traffic. Identifying pavement cracking, chipping, and heaving are part of the visual inspection. Trails receiving routine pavement inspections and maintenance will save communities money in the long run instead of allowing trail issues to worsen over time resulting in more costly repairs in the future.
- Repair and Preventative Measures
There are many different reasons for trail pavement failure. These include environmental factors, such as sunlight, oxidation, water, the freeze/thaw cycle, aging, and vegetation. Traffic usage from maintenance equipment, utility vehicles, and pedestrians also contributes to trail failure.
There are several different options for preventative and minor rehabilitation practices that significantly increase the overall lifespan of a trail. Generally, applying a trail sealant every four years after the trail is constructed is ideal.
- Remove Debris
A build-up of debris on the pavement occurs during the winter when usage is low—blowing and sweeping trails in the spring is essential to clear them. It can involve removing fallen trees and branches or trimming overgrown vegetation. Snowmelt can bring additional leaf litter and soil onto the trail, so be sure to identify any areas near the trail that are eroding to protect the structural integrity of the trail as well as limit the amount of debris getting on the trail. Check catch basins to ensure no debris obstructs the inlets to ensure water is not getting trapped on the trail.
- Update Trail Markings & Infrastructure
For the same reasons pavement may need repairs based on environmental, usage, and design, pavement markings such as walk and bike lanes, direction symbols, or trail instructions should be upkept and repainted as needed. This includes signage as well. This is critical for user safety.
In addition to trail maintenance procedures, infrastructure such as pet relief stations, bike repair tools and pumps, benches, garbage receptacles and lighting should be operational and ready to use.
How WSB Can Help?
WSB can help create a customized trail maintenance plan that meets your community’s needs. We also design, construct trails, and help communities implement preventative maintenance to ensure residents get the most out of local trails.
Jordan is a landscape architect who has worked with many communities to deliver visionary and achievable park master plan projects. He brings his conceptual, graphical, and technical expertise to projects including streetscapes, park and trail planning, playground design, and athletic complexes. Jordan is committed to collaborating with the client and providing thoughtful design input to create unique outdoor spaces and experiences.
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