Sustainable Trail Design Principles

Whether navigating through snow or basking in the summer sun, trail adventures are a year-round joy. Trail closures due to rain can be a huge disappointment, and at CORA, we're dedicated to minimizing these interruptions through sustainable trail design.

Understanding Sustainability:

Before delving into our techniques, let's explore what makes a trail sustainable. A sustainable trail supports its intended use, like mountain biking, hiking, or trail running, without succumbing to issues like soil erosion, compaction, or displacement. These problems worsen over time, underscoring the importance of proper design and maintenance.

The Role of Water:

Our region's clay-rich soil exacerbates the impact of water on trails. To combat this, we employ techniques to manage water flow, ensuring trails remain open as many days as possible throughout the year. Closing trails is a tough decision, but it's sometimes necessary to address these water-related challenges.

Combatting Invasives for Improved Drying:

Clearing honeysuckle and other invasives is often one of the first steps in creating new trails in our region. Not only does this combat invasive species, but it also significantly enhances trail drying. Additionally, honeysuckle gets its leaves earlier and keeps them later than native species, which exacerbates issues with drying in the cooler months. 

Techniques for Sustainable Trails:

Our toolbox of techniques includes strategic trail planning, grade reversals, advanced drains, culverts, erosion-reducing features, and rock crossings. These methods optimize drainage and drying, ensuring trails remain open for more days each year.

Sharing Knowledge and Building Skills:

CORA actively shares knowledge through volunteer trail days and organized courses. In fall 2023, we hosted a sustainable trail design course taught by ODNR, enriching local trail builders with essential practices and technical insights.

Double Your Impact:

Support our mission by contributing to CORA's initiatives, including sustainable trail design. Thanks to a gift from an anonymous donor, your contribution will be matched up to $40,000 until the end of 2023. You may be able to further amplify your impact by checking with your employer to see if they offer matching donations.

Thank you for championing CORA and our commitment to creating, maintaining, and improving exceptional trails for all!

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