Walking improvements needed What makes a trail nice to walk?

November 15, 2012. Pick a trail you often walk and assess it using the table below. On a scale of 1 - 10, where does your favourite trail rank?

Note that some aspects, such as shortest distance, are appropriate for someone walking to work. This person wants a nice walk, but also, a direct/shortest route. If there's part that goes alongside a road, then that may be acceptable. However, for those out for an after-supper walk, they may have no interest in the trail along the road, rather wanting one that goes in a loop around the local pond.

Other descriptors, such as trailhead close to residence, are important for recreational walkers who wants to get out of the neighbourhood and onto a trail. And knowing the shortcuts inside a neighbourhood could make someone walk to do an errand, rather than drive.

Trail name, length
Brief description: Is it a path between houses to access the greenbelt, a perimeter trail around the neighbourhood, a trail leading downtown, ...
Physical features: characteristics of the land
natural features, destinations
  • hill
  • stream
  • open forest
  • interesting environment
  • pond
  • wetland
  • canyon/cliffs
  • large rocks, outcrops
  • rocky
  • paved
  • sandy
  • roots
  • forest floor
style of trail/path width
  • single path
  • lots of narrow, windy bits
  • double track
  • sidewalk, no buffer
  • sidewalk, buffer
  • road
elevation changes
  • hilly
  • flat
Signage, interpretation: Trailhead, theme signs and stories about the trail
  • trailhead(s) clearly marked
  • sign posts on trail
  • map (with an inset location map)
  • distances between intersections
  • signage
  • brochure
intersections with other trails
  • marked
  • not marked
Subjective: tolerances are different
  • animals (bears)
  • other people
travel past development, along road
  • interesting
  • featureless
  • very unappealing
trailhead close to residence
  • people will only walk ?? to get to start
  • spectacular open view
  • good view
land variety
  • open, in forest
shortest route    
has people features
  • gathering place
  • bridge
  • lookout
  • culvert
winter use
  • cleared
  • used often enough to be followable
Network: what other trails are in the area
part of loop trail    
variety of options to go in different directions
  • cross trails
side trails
variety of trails in network
  • easy, medium, hard
variety of times/lengths
  • short–long, quick to a few hours
Barriers: what make it that you can't go forward without some fix
  • stream, creek
  • wetland
  • river
  • cliff, escarpment
human-made crossing situations
  • road, no pedestrian
  • road with crossing
  • highway, no pedestrian
  • highway with crossing
impenetrable situations
  • fenced development
  • housing with no alley shortcuts
Management: who looks after the trail and who makes rules
part of city park
  • has a management 'plan
shared with other user groups
  • with bicycles
  • no ATV, no snowmobile
  • ATV allowed
  • snowmobiles allowed
  • steep
  • erosion
  • wetland
trail under stewardship
  • local neighbourhood(s)
  • area group
  • City
Maintenance: what things need doing
work needed
  • bridging
  • trail clearing
  • re-routing
  • side hill switchback
  • trail delineation/edging