Assessment and Repair of a Trail After Catastrophic Damage

American Trails

Assessment and Repair of a Trail After Catastrophic Damage

Recorded Training

Webinar Trail Maintenance

Learn about the evaluation, planning, and action needed to restore a nationally acclaimed trail due to heavy rains that triggered flooding, landslides, and severe damage to a 22-mile segment of a trail.

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail is a designated National Recreation Trail and is ranked among the top 15 trails in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure magazine. It is considered the first rail-to-trail project in the country. A beloved destination for bicycling enthusiasts in Wisconsin, this 32.5-mile trail boasts three captivating rock tunnels and connects five charming small towns. It now forms part of an extensive 101-mile trail network. Winding through the picturesque landscapes of wetlands, prairies, farmland, and unglaciated areas, the trail provides an immersive outdoor experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike, attracting more than 60,000 visitors annually. In 2018, heavy rains triggered flooding, landslides, and severe damage to a 22-mile segment of the trail between the Village of Norwalk and the City of Elroy. This catastrophic event resulted in structural failures and streambank erosion, requiring the closure of the trail until necessary repairs could be made.


In this presentation, attendees will hear about the specific damage to the Elroy-Sparta State Trail caused by the heavy rains and flooding, and learn about the evaluation, planning, and action needed to restore this remarkable recreational resource. The topics covered will include the inspection process, which included a preliminary study and cost estimates for repairs, as well as the development of repair and replacement plans. Additionally, the timeline along with the processes for repairs, funding, permitting, and agency coordination will be discussed.



Learning Objectives:


  • History of the Elroy Sparta Trail and the economic impacts to the surrounding community.
  • Various trail damage that occurred due to flooding events in 2018.
  • The process involved with designing and repairing the trail damage.

Trail Core Competencies

Relevant Trail Types

    General. All trail types are relevant.

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