Start a Trail of Your Own

One of the main goals for the Discovery Trail at Rocky Creek is to assist others in the creation of their own trails and outdoor sensory experiences. Here is a list of items that we have compiled, and learned from, to get you started!

  1. Put together a detailed trail plan before you start the project. Work on several iterations of the plan.
  2. Use existing reference materials – many things have been thought through by others. We have found many governmental and other resources very helpful (and free!) including publications of the National Parks Service, the Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service.
  3. Seek diverse opinions on your initial designs and be open to critique (we used a Round Table Approach of diverse relevant expertise).
  4. Be prepared to be flexible – the plan will change MANY times based on what is practical and overcoming the obstacles that will arise.
  5. Assess your financing capability, land available, and the types of resources at your disposal, including manpower, materials, and expert knowledge and assistance.
  6. Create a monthly budget cadence – we have mapped our spending for the first phase of a populated 26 station trail evenly over 2 years.
  7. Don’t underestimate the maintenance challenge once the trail is constructed. Keep the trail as “natural” as possible and be careful in the selection of materials that will weather the outdoors well.
  8. Make safety a top priority - each section of the trail must be absolutely safe for walkers, riders, horses and chaperones. All areas of physical activity need safe footing. Use professional help in any structural design or buy pre-certified components. 
  9. When it comes to building the trail, be patient and take it slowly.  It will take MUCH longer than you think! We have built only 3 stations in a year and although the rest will go much faster, it was worth spending the time. 
  10. Plan multiple points of egress from the trail so that participants are never too far from the central support resources in case of emergency. Allow space for assembly of small groups at multiple points along the trail.
  11. Spend time and resources in creating a print marketing and digital presence for the trail.
  12. Use experts. We used a trusted architect, local builders, tree removal experts and other professionals to help with physical infrastructure. 
  13. Allow for future expansion!