American Trails

Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Tread and Alignment​

Trail Core Competencies
  • • Hand-Built Trail Construction
  • • Trail Finishwork
  • • Tread Hardening
  • • Maintenance Specifications
  • • Tread Maintenance - Hand tools
  • • Tread Maintenance - Mechanized Equipment
Summary

Explore foundational concepts related to the principles and applications of trail tread and alignment—all through the lens of developing and maintaining a sustainable trail. This course will introduce basic trail design elements as well as processes and considerations for establishing trail tread.

Overview

The Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Tread and Alignment course is an introductory course targeted to developing trail workers. This course serves as an introduction and overview to the principles and applications of trail tread and alignment through the lens of developing and maintaining a sustainable trail. This course will introduce basic trail design elements as well as processes and considerations for establishing trail tread. Topics include intentional trail design, resource protection, considering landform and alignment, trail grade and reversals, trail tread specifications, bench construction, and much more! This course was developed jointly by American Trails and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.

Course Schedule

  • Interactive practice activities
  • Learn More opportunities
  • Supplemental reference materials
  • Informal checks for understanding
  • Final quiz

Course Chapters: ​​

  • Trail Design
  • Layout and Alignment
  • Trail Tread​

Course Objectives

Be able to:

  • ​​​Describe the trail design elements of trail tread, alignment, layout, grade, and location.
  • ​Identify basic design, layout, and alignment principles and processes.
  • ​Describe the basic trail design processes and considerations for establishing the trail tread​

Recommended Background

This is an introductory course for developing trail workers. These include individuals who may have limited formal experience in construction or maintenance—but are eager to learn!

We encourage all enrollees of Foundations of Sustainable Trails courses to first complete the microlearning: Foundations of Sustainable Trails: A Trail from Start to Finish.


Trail Types Covered

    General. All trail types are relevant.

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