Traildesigner – On making paths and trails

Creating and building hiking trails research, knowledge and resources

How to design and build hiking trails research

Text and drawings by Frits Ahlefeldt. Founder of

Hiking trails and paths can be designed in many ways and needs to be adapted to the place, the culture and the amount of use on it. Still many have important knowledge and experience about how best to design trails and paths out in the landscapes. Here are some of my research and know-how from sources around the world about how best to plan, design, build and maintain trails and paths

Teaching kids outdoors

Teaching kids outdoors helps them understand, move and be more happy. Connecting to nature, instead of screens.

Idea for a hikers shlelter looking like a turtle. concept sketch Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt

Sea turtle concept shelter

Concept: a observation post and sleeping shelter along the coast for hikers working with monitoring biodiversity and sea turtles

Sketch of a waterbar trail drain Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

The water bar concept sketch

Keeping water off trails is important to keep them healthy and walkable. Water bars are one of the designs

Concept of a gadbury bridge. made of tree trunks. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

Gadbury bridge design

Research: One of the classic ways of building hiking trail bridges is the Gadbury bridge, made of local wood

The bridge as place

In our understandings of landscapes bridges often stands out as something special

Illustration of solid wood bridge construction. Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

Wood bridge feel

Bridges can be made in many ways, from the most flimsy to the solid almost ever lasting bridge designs

Stream with three different crossings: Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

Using design to support hiking experiences

When a hiking trail cross a stream the passage can be designed in several ways. All having a huge influence on both the hiking experience and on the place

Group of people crossing a river with different strategies and places. Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

Psychology and ways of crossing a stream

Hiking can teach us new things about our strategies, roles and preferences.

Examples of tree trunk steps and stairs. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

Stairways design study

When trails starts to rise or fall, at a certain angle stairs are one way of making the trails continue when the terrain gets steeper

Sketch of a simple stairway made of wood trunks. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

Timber used to make steps sketch

Research sketch – understanding a simple way to use tree trunks to make steps along trails

Illustration of a trail over wet area ( turnpike concept. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

Turnpike design research drawing

When a hiking trail cross a stream the passage can be designed in several ways. All having a huge influence on both the hiking experience and on the place

Concept sketch of line of tree trunks over wet area. Drawing by Frits Ahlefeldt.

The corduroy timber path concept

Simple timber structure over wet area. ( corduroy) Not recommended any more

Drawing of a beaver sitting by a flooded trail. Traildesign hiking Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

When biodiversity and trails face each other

Hikers like to be close to wildlife and walking through landscapes where nature is set free. But it can be a challenge to balance the needs of nature, of habitats and of hikers.

Hiker looking at trail damage by invasive species along trail ( japanese knotweed) Hiking Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

Trails to help biodiversity

Hiking can help us face invasive species in new and better ways

Drawing of hikers and mountainbikes and all-wheel vehicles on the same trail. Traildesign hiking Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

Five reasons dedicated hiking trails works best

Walkers most often loose, when trails can be used for anything but walking

Drawing of a city with citizen science written over several buildings and people talking. Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt

Cityzen Science

Can we design places along the trails that are more open and better support innovation, debate and science

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑