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.


Resources for Trail Construction:

Documents and MediaVideo TrainingsTraining ProgramsCalendar
Find TrainersFind Workers


Learn More

Documents and Media for Trail Construction

Sustainable Trail Bridge Design
Sustainable Trail Bridge Design

Designing trail bridges based on trail-specific Trail Management Objectives (TMOs) is essential for providing the desired trail experience, for ensuring user safety, and for maximizing bridge longevity.

Stonework: Techniques and Projects
Stonework: Techniques and Projects

Discover the lasting satisfaction of working with stone. Master stonemason Charles McRaven covers everything you need to know about working with different types of stone to create a variety of durable and elegant features. Clear enough for the…

Stone Primer
Stone Primer

Stone Primer is both a practical handbook and an inspirational guide for the budding stonemason.


Trail Skills Training Library

Recorded Trainings for Trail Construction

Water Management on Legacy Trails
Water Management on Legacy Trails

This webinar will discuss the challenges of legacy trails, examine with photos and commentary commonly built trail features, and applying the SET test to them. It will also discuss the renovation of existing features and the construction of new…


Further Education

Training Programs for Trail Construction

Sustainable Trail Building One Year Certificate Program
Sustainable Trail Building One Year Certificate Program

In this one-year certificate program, you’ll have boots-on-the-ground at Northwoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston, VT for three individual week-long intensive classes. You will grow your knowledge base and connect with trail building…

Trail Academy
Trail Academy

Trail Academy is our free class series that teaches students how to tackle any trail-related challenge. Courses are hosted both in the field and online, and are a great starting point for anyone looking to become a certified Trail Crew Leader or…

Trail Sustainability Institute
Trail Sustainability Institute

The Trail Sustainability Institute (TSI) is NWTA’s internal training classes for everything related to trail building. We want to make sure our trail builders are knowledgeable in not only how to build/maintain fun trails, but ensure those trails…

IMBA Trail Solutions Advanced Trail Building School
IMBA Trail Solutions Advanced Trail Building School

Partner with IMBA Trail Solutions and create with confidence. By deploying a complete range of skills–including visioning, detailed design, professional construction, and training for stewardship–our comprehensive approach saves resources.

Trails Certificate
Trails Certificate

Gain insight into best practices related to the design, construction and maintenance of trails. Learn about and apply techniques that can enhance, rehabilitate and protect trails and greenways. Participants will also learn about trail…

Sustainable Trails Development
Sustainable Trails Development

The Sustainable Trails curriculum welcomes students from various fields who are interested in trails development, programming and management, as well as design.

Training Calendar

Upcoming Trainings for Trail Construction

MTB Optimized Machine Built Trails - Hybrid Machine 3-Day Intensive
McDowell Tech Community College
McDowell Tech Community College
MTB Optimized Machine Built Trails - Hybrid Machine 3-Day Intensive

July 17 - 19, 2024

Old Fort, North Carolina

Hand Built Trails - Intermediate 3 day Intensive
McDowell Tech Community College
McDowell Tech Community College
Hand Built Trails - Intermediate 3 day Intensive

July 24 - 26, 2024

Old Fort, North Carolina

Trail Crew Leader Training - 2 Day Intensive
McDowell Tech Community College
McDowell Tech Community College
Trail Crew Leader Training - 2 Day Intensive

August 03 - 04, 2024

Old Fort, North Carolina

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 58 trainers on TrailSkills
with Trail Construction experience

Hire Workers

There are 236 users on TrailSkills
with Trail Construction experience

Suggest a Resource

Contact Us

Know of a good resource for this skill? Let us know! From webinars, to workshops, to PDFs, we'd like to add them to our resource library.

Let us know
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