This article introduces the criteria of maximum profile grade relative to existing cross slope (fall line) as key to the development of natural surface trail projects that are sustainable.
Natural travel surface sustainability criteria include: soil types, trail profile grade relative to existing cross slope, aspect, exposure, season of use, type of use, volume of use, trail design and maintenance standards, ecological implications of vegetation, and functional and aesthetic control points. Imported surfacing materials may improve sustainability of specific areas within the overall corridor.
Mountain trails are often treated as a simple linear connection between points of interest, with attention usually given in the literature to just the trail clearing dimensions. Many trail planners realize, however, that there can be influences on the project from beyond the travel surface or clearing limits. The trail corridor is defined as the swath of landscape 10-25 feet on both sides of centerline which contains the travel surface and the aesthetic (viewpoints, wildflower areas, waterfalls) and functional (saddles, switchbacks, stream crossings) control points. Such a definition for the corridor will ensure adequate room for flexibility in the final trail alignment design.
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