Sustainable Trails Training

Friends of Panthertown is hosting a Sustainable Trail Design and Layout, Construction, and Maintenance training course instructed by Tim Johnson in Panthertown Valley and Cashiers, North Carolina from November 1-4, 2021.

Tuition costs for this course valued at $250 per student will be covered by Friends of Panthertown through a Recreational Trails Program Safety and Education Grant awarded by the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources .

Everyone is welcome to apply. Spaces are very limited. Applications are now being accepted for consideration.

Update (Monday 10/18): Course is now full. Applications are currently being reviewed. If you have already applied we will be in touch with you this week.

We encourage anyone (18 or older) who is interested in this course to apply early for this rare training opportunity. No previous trail work experience is required. New folks, college students, well seasoned trail users, and professionals alike will all benefit from this course. You will gain and refine important stewardship skills, experience Panthertown Valley trails up close with a motivated group of volunteers and hard working individuals, and be part of the important conservation mission of Friends of Panthertown. Everyone is welcome.

Sustainable Trail Design and Layout, Construction, and Maintenance

Course Description – 
This four-day training course prepares individuals to plan, design, and layout, construct, and maintain sustainable natural surface trails for multiple uses. Coursework includes conceptual trail planning, field design and layout, and trail construction and maintenance. Upon completion, the student will be able to plan, layout, construct, and maintain natural surface trails with a variety of hand tools.

Course Length –
Lecture: 9.5 hours (Cashiers classroom)
Lab/Fieldwork: 14.5 hours (Panthertown Valley)

Certificates –
A certificate will be awarded by Friends of Panthertown for 24 hours of sustainable trails training for successful completion of the course.

Pre-Requisites –

Textbooks Recommended –
Trail Solutions: IMBA’s Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack

Course Learning Objectives –
At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate the ability to complete conceptual trail planning and design.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use of a clinometer to design, layout, and flag sustainable natural surface trails in the outdoor setting.
  • Demonstrate the ability to identify, use, and maintain hand tools used in trail construction and maintenance.
  • Demonstrate basic, intermediate, and advanced earthen trail construction and maintenance techniques using hand tools.
  • Recognize a variety of surface water control measures used on natural surface trails.
  • Recognize the difference between climbing turns, switchbacks, and insloped turns.
  • Identify common trail maintenance problems and their solutions.

Supplies and Other Requirements –
Participants should bring their own lunch, snacks, and plenty of drinking water. Students must dress appropriately for trail construction – gloves, safety glasses, long pants and closed-toe shoes (boots preferred). Trailbuilding tools will be provided by Friends of Panthertown.

Evaluation Methodology –
Students will be evaluated through class participation and practical applications.

Attendance –
Students are required to attend 100% of scheduled class in order to earn credit for the program. Enrolled students are expected to participate in class discussions, practical field exercises, and other learning opportunities.

Class Schedule –
Monday, Nov 1 (1pm-5pm) Half day in classroom
Tuesday, Nov 2 (8am-5pm) 1/2 day in classroom, 1/2 day in Panthertown, 1 hour break
Wednesday, Nov 3 (8am-5pm) Full day in Panthertown
Thursday, Nov 4 (8am-12pm) Half day in Panthertown

Outline – 

HoursSectionTopic Definitions of sustainable trails
1.2 Trail experience
1.3 Rolling contour trail Conceptual trail planning
2.2 Maps
2.3 Control points Practical conceptual trail planning exercise (classroom) Trail impacts
4.2 Five essential elements of sustainable trails
4.3 Grade
4.4 Using a clinometer Practical clinometer exercise (field) Process of trail design and layout
6.2 Design considerations for specific trail users
6.3 Trail elements Basic trail construction techniques
7.2 Process of trail construction
7.3 General trailwork specifications and standards
7.4 Hand tools for trail construction and maintenance
7.5 Mechanized trail construction
7.6 Advanced trail construction techniques Trail assessment
8.2 Basic trail maintenance issues and solutions
8.3 Advanced trail maintenance issues and solutions Practical layout exercise (Panthertown Valley)
1.510.010.1 Practical assessment exercise Practical trail construction exercise (Panthertown Valley) Practical trail maintenance exercise 
2.513.013.1 Practical trail maintenance exercise (Panthertown Valley)
0.514.014.1 Universal trail design Course review
15.2 Course assessment
15.3 Course evaluation
Panthertown Volunteers