TRAIL PLANNING AND GREEN DESIGN
There are more than 20 different sciences involved in sustainable trail building; we take the utmost care to create a trail masterplan that not only fits the environment but also your budget. A masterplan typically includes an ecological, cultural and social survey; it also explores local resources, the availability of volunteers and in-kind services. To complete an initial masterplan survey, prospective trails are mapped for aesthetic values, gps ground-truthed, with a costing based on a prescribed budget.
From the use of bio-degradable saw chain oil lubricant to “green” sourced building materials, our goal is to lessen the environmental impact of trail building. Trails are ‘surgically’ placed within the natural environment and, in most cases, constructed using hand tools only.
SUSTAINABLE TRAIL CONSTRUCTION
A well-designed trail will save money in maintenance in the long term. Our construction techniques are based on the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) sustainable trail manual guidelines. Our team has studied trail building techniques in New Zealand, United Kingdom, Scotland, Arizona, Maine and Vermont. Using preferred eco-friendly hand-tools for sculpting natural-base trails, we use compacting material and excavating machinery only when absolutely required.
Whether engineered or simple, boardwalks and bridge construction is our specialty. Boardwalks built over partially wet low areas are typically “floating” structures sitting on cribs; modified plankway-type boardwalks or “puncheons” often skirt areas of sensitive vegetation. Bridges up to fifty feet in length are built over small creeks and rivers. Some of our earlier structures have lasted more than three decades.
Landscapers often call themselves trail-builders which is often not the case. Resorting to the use of heavy machinery, landscapers will disrupt the natural vegetative cover or remove trees unnecessarily. Landscaping is a hallmark feature of Ecotrailbuilders with care taken not to “over-build” a trail. We believe that the art of design and landscaping captures the essence and soul of a good trail while being kind to the environment. We excel at building benchcut (sidehill) or switchback trails, rock-armoured embankments and retaining walls, stone steps and walkways, even chainsaw-carved art installations.
Support structures enhance the trail experience. These would include wildlife viewing decks, observation or lookout decks, warm-up chalets, sugar-shacks and trailhead kiosks. Materials for remote trail structures are transported to the site in the winter by snowmachine in order not to disturb the trail environment.
REMOTE & UNIQUE BUILDS
Many contractors avoid taking on remote or hard-to-build projects such as remote cottages or cabins. No matter what season it is, we’ve devised ways of transporting materials economically to a building site. This often entails the use of floatplanes, ATV’s, motorboats, canoes or snowmachines. Our team is prepared to work and stay at the building site for extended periods; this drastically reduces your cost and accelerates the completion date.
CANOE & KAYAK WATER TRAILS
We are the only trailbuilding company actively engaged in mapping out water trails or portage routes. These are considered Canada’s first trail systems and very much a part of our National and Cultural identity. Since 1977 we have been researching, mapping and producing guidebooks for water trails. All routes are graded using the International River Grading System (IRGS) for classifying moving water. Detailed maps highlight rapids, falls and campsites with care taken to respect First Nations traditional land ownership. A full cultural and environmental survey is completed along with detailed cartographic representation. Ecotrailbuilders mapped out 25% of the Ontario portion of the Trans Canada Trail (Great Trail) “Path of the Paddle” route.
WAYFINDING & SIGNAGE
We have a solid background in safety-coded directional signs and wayfinding systems, artistic cartography, easy-to-read trail maps, interpretive signs and trailhead kiosks. Wayfinding and signage are key elements in maintaining a safe protocol for risk management.
RISK MANAGEMENT CONSULTING
All trails present certain types of risks; therefore, it is essential to have a risk management protocol in place, particularly if you are operating a public trail system. Risk management is an important facet of trail design, installation and regular maintenance. Our complete trail design package includes a “duty-of-care” approach to compiling an informative risk management assessment and user-manual. This includes evacuation logistics, specific safety concerns and maintenance scheduling.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
We are fully engaged in skills training and volunteer initiatives. Talk to us about setting up a program regarding sustainable trail construction, maintenance and risk management.
PHOTOGRPHY, VIDEO & MARKETING
If you are planning to install trails as part of your amenity package for public use, we have 35 years experience in graphic design, photography, brochure and map design, social media and marketing promotions.
We re-purpose a lot of building materials into specific client projects. These are often part of our overall trail master plan and recreation package.
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Our Clients Include: Canada Parks, Trans Canada Trails, Canadian Heritage River Systems, Manitoba Tourism, Manitoba Natural Resources, Ontario Ministry Of Natural Resources, Ontario Nature Federation, Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, Township Of Seguin, Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, J.W. Marriott Resort Inn Muskoka (200km. Ski, Bike & Hike), Inn At Manitou Relais Et Chateau, Earthroots, Rosseau College, Gangler’s Resort MB, town of Penetanguishene, Pickering College, Town of Bracebridge, Over 75 private land owners.