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A guide to new trails

Setting a vision

Vision-setting is critical to any trail project's success. A strong vision statement will set the foundation for every step of the project and keep the community focused on goals. An inspirational and enduring vision will reflect your project's primary purpose, and inform the roadmap you will need to build for success.


IMBA's trail development process: community engagement, funding, access, assessment, planning, design, construction and stewardship.


Vision in Iron Hills


In Cedar City, Utah, the vision for trails is to provide a connection for communities. The goal is to provide a nearby trail experience for every community in the region, so that more people can spend time on trails. Now, the community sees walkers, dog walkers, runners and riders

“We looked at this piece of land and thought, how can we provide recreation? Now, we see a lot of walkers, dog walkers, runners, riders; and a lot of those people don’t drive to the trailhead, they actually walk or run or ride to the trailhead.” –Dave Jacobson, Bureau of Land Management Recreation Planner

What's in a vision?

Your vision should set a high bar by being inclusive and aspirational. A clear, relevant vision readily communicates the benefits of a trail project. A vision that will attract widespread support usually contains two important elements: the ways the project will benefit the entire community, and the kinds of experiences needed by trail users.

With your vision set, you'll be able to build a team to help you achieve your goal through the following steps:

  • Access: Gaining and protecting permission to ride or develop trails on public land.

  • Community Engagement & Advocacy: Developing the relationships needed to make progress on trail projects.

  • Assessment: Analysis of the opportunities and constraints of a landscape, trail system, or greater area.

  • Funding: Sourcing and leveraging financial support to pay for trail development and maintenance.

  • Planning and Design: Planning generates a high-level vision for trail possibilities. Design lays out on-the-ground trail alignments and elements.

  • Construction: Building trails guided by the vision, plan, and design.

  • Stewardship: Maintenance and promotion of trails once they are complete.


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