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  • DCR Trails Guidelines and Best Practices Manual Updated October, 2014

    Department of

    Conservation and Recreation

    Trails Guidelines and Best Practices

    Manual

    The Metacomet-Monadnock trail to Mt. Norwottock

    The health and happiness of people across Massachusetts depend on the

    accessibility and quality of our green infrastructure - our natural resources, recreational facilities, and great historic landscapes. The Department of

    Conservation and Recreation (DCR) provides vital connections between people and the environment with over 4,000 miles of trails and 150 miles of

    paved bikeways and rail trails. Consistent and clearly defined trail policies, procedures, and program guidelines can provide inspiration and direction for

    managing, enhancing, and developing a successful and sustainable trail system for Massachusetts.

  • DCR Trails Guidelines and Best Practices Manual Updated October, 2014

    Table of Contents Page

    Implementation Schedule ....................................................................................... iii Definitions .............................................................................................................. iv

    Section I: Introduction .................................................................................................... 2 Trail Policy and Program Mission ............................................................................. 2 Importance of Trails ................................................................................................ 2 Striving for Sustainable Trails .................................................................................. 2 Promoting Stewardship ........................................................................................... 3 Past Trail Practices with the Agency ........................................................................ 4 Consistency with other plans and regulations ......................................................... 4 Trends in Recreational Trail Demand and Uses ........................................................ 9 Trail Regulations ...................................................................................................... 9 DCR Approved Trail Uses ......................................................................................... 9 Additional Types of Trails....................................................................................... 10 DCR Trail Team ...................................................................................................... 11

    Section II: Trail System Planning and Development ................................. 122 Assessing and Planning an Existing Trail System .................................................. 12 Assessing Requests for New Trails or Changes in Trail Designation ...................... 15 Additional Trail Development Concepts ................................................................. 16 Principles of Ecologically Sustainable Trails........................................................... 18 Building Sustainable Trails .................................................................................... 22 Building an Enjoyable Trail Experience .................................................................. 24 Building Accessible Trails ...................................................................................... 27 Permitting .............................................................................................................. 29 On the Ground; Putting It Together ....................................................................... 31 Trail Design and Construction Resources ............................................................... 33

    Section III: Trail System Management, Maintenance and Monitoring ......... 35 Trail Classification ................................................................................................. 35 Trail Maintenance .................................................................................................. 38 Trail Signage .......................................................................................................... 44 Trail Mapping ......................................................................................................... 53 Partnerships, Friends and Volunteers .................................................................... 55 Understanding and Managing Conflicts .................................................................. 56 Special Trail Uses ................................................................................................... 58

    Appendix A: Trail Planning and Management Fundamentals

    Appendix B: Trail Proposal and Evaluation Form

    Appendix C:

    Appendix D: Closing and Restoring Trails, DCR BMP

    Appendix E: DCR’s Volunteers in Parks Prgram

    Appendix F: USFS Trail Design Parameters (6/18/2002)

    Appendix G: Mapping Trails the DCR Way

    Appendix H: Biodiversity Conservation Initiative; Conditions Guidance Codes

    Appendix I: Additional Maintenance Specifications

    Appendix J: Erosion and Sedimentation Control Techniques

  • DCR Trails Guidelines and Best Practices Manual Updated October, 2014

    Implementation Schedule (Revised 2014)

    The initial edition of the DCR Tails Guidelines and Standards Manual was completed,

    approved and distributed at the 2008 DCR Trail School.

    The Manual is reviewed and revised by the DCR Trail Team on an annual or bi-annual basis.

    Some elements of the Manual will require years to fully implement. The following table

    proposes a timeline for implementation.

    Element Implementation Date Comments

    Trail Regulations 2012 (revised 2014) DCR CMRs were finalized in 2014

    Trail Team January 1, 2008 DCR Trail Team was established in

    January 2008 and meets

    approximately 3 times each year.

    Trail Planning and

    Development Standards

    October 21, 2008 Trail planning and development

    guidelines and standards for

    different uses and classes of trail

    were complete in the 2008 edition

    Complete Trail Inventory 2012 (revised 2014) The trail inventory was completed

    for former State Parks in 2013,

    and is on-going for former urban

    parks.

    Implementation of Trail

    Maintenance Standards

    On-going Maintenance standards

    implementation for all trails is

    dependent on staffing levels and

    DCR priorities; however,

    maintenance standards will

    establish a benchmark for basic

    levels of trail management.

    Trail Signage - 2008 for new trails and

    new signs

    - 2012 for main

    intersections

    -Full implementation by

    2016, all parks and trails

    Implementation should follow the

    prioritization outlined in the

    Signage section

    Maps Unknown

    Final standards to be developed in

    cooperation with DCR Graphics

    and GIS staff

    Partners and Volunteers 2013 Procedures for engaging partners

    and volunteers in trail

    maintenance or development will

    be finalized in 2013

  • DCR Trails Guidelines and Best Practices Manual Updated October, 2014

    Definitions Compaction

    The downward force that compresses soil caused by trail use.

     Heavier modes of travel and higher amounts of trail use cause greater

    compaction.

     Some compaction is desirable to harden tread and reduce displacement, but

     Highly compacted soils cause trail tread to sink, reducing natural infiltration

    and the ability for soils to drain.

    Displacement

    The sideways movement of soils caused by inevitable kicking, grinding, and acceleration

    of feet, hooves and wheels.

     Amount of displacement is a function of grade and force exerted on tread.

     The steeper the grade the faster soil particles move downhill.

     Displacement tends to increase erosion by loosening soil particles.

     Reduce displacement by limiting trail grade or modes of travel.

    Erosion

    The movement of soil caused by the forces of water or sometimes wind moving with

    enough force to transport soil particles. Erosion is a natural process, so expect it and

    learn how to accommodate it.

    Grade

    The slope of the trail. Measured as a percentage, it is the rise of the trail divided by the

    horizontal distance of that rise.

     Percent grade formula = rise over run multiplied by 100.

     The steeper the grade, the more likely it is to erode.

     Avoid the shortest route down a hill (fall line) and flat areas that do not drain.

     Generally, average trail grade of 10% or less is most sustainable.

     Half rule – a trail’s grade should not exceed half the grade of the side slope

    that the trail traverses. For example if the side slope is 30% the trail grade

    should not exceed 15%.

    Trails

    Trails are designated, marked and signed routes that people use recreationally for such

    activities as walking, running, hiking, biking, horseback riding, off-highway vehicle use,

    snowmobile riding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Other special uses include

    wheelchairs or similar “mobility devices,” carriages, dogsleds, and i

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