Trail Construction

Trail Construction Skills Include:

    Construction Specifications

    Understand and apply common construction specifications/trail management objectives such as corridor height/width, tread width, cross/outslope, protrusions, obstacles, and compaction.

    Corridor Clearing

    Clear the corridor (brushing, logging out, hazard tree removal, rock/stump removal) in preparation for construction using proper pruning techniques.

    Hand-Built Trail Construction

    Using hand tools, construct a trail with a full bench, raised tread, and/or combination that meets the construction specifications.

    Mechanized Trail Construction

    Safely use and maintain mechanized trail construction equipment (i.e. mini-excavators, skid steers, trail dozers, compactors, etc) to construct trail that meets construction specifications.

    Trail Finishwork

    Utilize tools, often mechanical (i.e. excavators, harrow rakes, compact utility loaders, compactors), to meet specifications for final tread surface and backslope preparation and compaction, construction spoils management, and erosion control stabilization.

    Water Management/Drainage Features

    Construct drainage features that decrease erosion , including grade reversals, berms, ditches, and sheet drains.

    Water Crossing Structures

    Construct a water crossing structure (i.e. puncheon, turnpike, bridge) to span drainageways or wetland areas and raise the trail above the high water line while maintaining uninterrupted hydrology beneath the constructed feature.

    Retaining Walls

    Construct stone or wood retaining walls to bolster unconsolidated soils, gain elevation, or transition tread from rocks/natural barriers.

    Tread Hardening

    Install the appropriate treadway hardening technique for a trail given the slopes, soils, available material (wood, rock, gravel) and designed use, including advanced hardening techniques (i.e. turnpiking, rock culverts, boulder causeway, rock drains).

    Trailside Structures / Dispersed Recreation

    Build and maintain trail heads, parking lots, kiosks, sanitary facilities, camping facilities, traffic barriers, and directional signage.

    Decommissioning Trails

    Demonstrated ability to plan and implement the closure, reclamation, and revegetation of a trail segment.

Learn More

Resources for Trail Construction

Evaluating Erosion
Evaluating Erosion

One important factor that we examine when we assess the condition of a trail is the effect that erosion is having upon the trail surface. This video covers three of the most obvious signs of trail erosion: loose rocks, cuts and areas of deposition.…

Hand Tool Field Maintenance
Hand Tool Field Maintenance

We rely on hand tools to lop branches, dig drain dips, remove slough and berm, construct waterbars and check steps, and much more. As a result, hand tools receive a great deal of wear and tear. Learn about the most common tool problems that are…

Desert Brushing Techniques
Desert Brushing Techniques

In the second video of this series, we take a look at how to clear the trail corridor of brush, focusing on techniques specific to the desert environment. Keeping the corridor clear allows users to stay on the trail safely, protecting the…

Tread and Drainage
Tread and Drainage

Water and gravity constantly threaten our trails and thus we must learn how best to deflect them. This course begins with basics of hillside hydrology and how trails work when they shed water properly. Includes introduction of “trail eyes” and basic…

Further Education

Related Training Programs

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Upcoming Trainings for Trail Construction

Trail Skills Institute Module 5: Trail Construction
Arizona Trail Association
Arizona Trail Association
Trail Skills Institute Module 5: Trail Construction

April 27 - 28, 2024

Tucson, Arizona

Trail Skills College
Appalachian Mountain Club
Appalachian Mountain Club
Trail Skills College

May 16 - 20, 2024

Trail Building and Stewardship for Non-Motorized Multi-Use Trails Boot Camp
Vermont State University
Vermont State University
Sustainable Trail Building One-Year Certificate Program
Sustainable Trail Building One-Year Certificate Program

September 09, 2024

Lyndonville, Vermont

The Great Trails State 2024 Conference
The Great Trails State 2024 Conference

September 11 - April 15, 2024

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Custom Trainings

There are 56 trainers on TrailSkills
with Trail Construction experience.


Jerome Pelland

Sentiers Boréals, Inc.

Contractor Trainer



Larry Knutson

Penn Trails LLC

Contractor Trainer

Newville, PA

Larry Knutson, is founder and President of Penn Trails LLC. A cloud based company for 16 years, we…


Sarah Walter

Penn Trails LLC

Contractor Trainer

Carlisle, PA

Sarah is a licensed Landscape Architect in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, with prior experience in…


Emma Bixler

CorpsTHAT, Inc.

Trainer Corps Nonprofit

Baltimore, MD

I have worked in the conservation corps industry for over 10 years with a focus on creating…


William Jones

USDA Forest Service

Trainer Agency

Hood River, OR

In my sixth year working wilderness, motorized, and non-motorized trails for the Forest Service;…


Amy Lutsko

Morris County Park Commission, NJ

Trainer Agency

Morristown, NJ

Search and sort all 56 trainers

Hire Workers

There are 221 profiles on TrailSkills
with Trail Construction experience.


Jennifer Medina-Gray

Trainer Agency Corps

Albuquerque, NM


John Beardshear

Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORBA)


Salinas, CA


Bo Malcolm

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps

Corps Nonprofit

Richmond, VT

I’m dedicated to creating opportunities for young people to learn and grow. For seven years, I…


Jerome Dumais

Eastern Trails, Inc.



Trailbuilduing company based in Mansonville, Quebec, Canada


Ben Ervin

Alaska Trails

Contractor Trainer Nonprofit

Anchorage, AK


Chad Jordan


Suttons Bay, MI

Search and sort all 221 workers

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Trail Skills Collaborators
Federal Highway Administration USDA Forest Service National Park Service Bureau of Land Management
American Trails Professional TrailBuilders Association Partnership for the National Trails System Northern Vermont University Northwest Arkansas Community College Eppley Institute Corps Network