Trail making standards
April 16, 2021 9:46 AM   Subscribe

Trail making standards, either federal (US) or state (New Mexico)?

In particular, I want to know if there is a standard number for an incline to decide whether it can be a trail or it should be steps. Maybe its a hard number, maybe its based on angle of repose?
posted by falsedmitri to Science & Nature (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Here's the Handbook for Trail Design and Construction and Maintenance from the National Park Service, I think that's as close as you'll get to a national standard.

There's also usually cost considerations (installation and upkeep) and local flora to consider; this is why switchbacks are more common than stairs.
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:58 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]

There's also who the trail is being made for to consider - lots of NP trails are also meant for horses or other pack animals that don't navigate steps well. In areas with less robust plant cover, switchbacks also help control erosion a bit.
posted by LionIndex at 11:41 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]

The USFS also has it's own set of trail standards and guidelines, which I believe some other federal agencies tier to.

Knowing the use first is key, obviously -- for example, if you need the trail to meet ADA accessibility standards, there are entirely different surface, grade, width, etc. standards than if you are building a backcountry trail for pedestrians only.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:56 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]

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