2022 Outdoor economy conference:

Trail Planning & Development Pre-Conference Workshop

This 2022 Outdoor Economy Conference Trail Planning & Development Workshop, led in partnership with IMBA Trail Solutions and NCSU Recreation Resources Service, will focus on planning, design, and implementation, and will guide attendees through the stages of creating or enhancing a high quality trail system.

Trail Planning & Development Workshop Overview

Photo: Visit Cherokee, NC

Planning for Sustainability & Impact

Now, more  than ever, it is apparent that access to quality outdoor recreation infrastructure is key to a community’s quality of life, and a vital tool to help grow a local outdoor economy. The world of trails has evolved significantly, and communities across the country are leveraging purpose-built, designed, and constructed trails to help residents and visitors experience their public lands, live active healthy lifestyles, and connect with nature in exciting and intimate ways.

This workshop is designed for land managers, community leaders, funders, and volunteers who are interested or involved in the trail planning and development process to better support their own efforts in their community.

Through this session, attendees will be able to: 

  • Identify and differentiate between different types of trails and facilities 
  • Benchmark other communities that have invested in trails and bike parks and understand their successes and challenges 
  • Understand key factors of the trail development process that make a sustainable and successful project
  • Define what trail planning and design means in the context of Trail Development, and explain why planning is critical (or how planning informs many different stakeholders)
  • Understand different approaches for implementation and the various ways that a plan can be utilized 
  • Be aware of opportunities for support and funding to help make your trail project a reality


This full-day workshop will be held on Monday, April 4th from 8:30am-4:30pm at The Cherokee Convention Center with an optional field visit to the Fire Mountain Trails System

** Please Note: You do not have to be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to attend this Pre-Workshop, however, those registered do benefit from a discounted cost.

CEU’s: Continuing Education Units (CEU) have been applied for, and will be awarded through the McKimmon Center at NC State University. Participants must attend the entire one-day workshop to be eligible for CEU credit.

Cost: $125 for conference attendees / $175 without conference registration
(includes lunch)

Optional fire mountain trails field visit

Photo: Fire Mountain Trails.

The Fire Mountain Trails field visit will be a walking tour of the trails at Fire Mountain with a focus on trail building and development best practices.

Attendees on this tour should be able to walk a few miles uphill on natural surface trails across varying and uneven terrain.  Participants should be prepared for any weather. Bring closed-toed hiking shoes/boots and socks, a water bottle, sunscreen/hat, and clothing appropriate for being outside, including rain gear and/or warm clothing. 

Participants will provide their own transportation to the Fire Mountain Trails field visit.  The trailhead is located in the Oconaluftee Indian Village at State Rd 1361, Cherokee, NC 28719 just a 5-7 minute drive from the conference center.  There is ample parking, however we encourage attendees to carpool if comfortable to do so.

agenda (tentative)

8:30AM EST | Introductions and Welcome 

8:45 | Trail System Fundamentals – Principles of sustainable trails, understanding the needs of different users, and the key elements of trail development 

9:15 | Trail System Planning – the importance of the planning process, what should be included, and how to properly use a trail plan 

10:15 | 5 Min Break 

11:15 | Trail Design Introduction – trail design fundamentals and the impact and influence of the design on the development and management process 

12:00PM | Lunch 

12:30 | Implementation – Utilizing volunteers and contractors, permits, and RFP’s 

1:15 | Morning Session Recap & Debrief 

1:30 | Afternoon Classroom Sessions or Field Visit 

Classroom Sessions 

1:45 | Funding Your Trail Project – led by NCSU Recreation Resources Service 

2:45 | Working with Professional Contractors 

3:30 | Home Trail Planning Exercise 

4:15 | Closing & Q&A 

Field Visit to Fire Mountain Trail System (attendance limited – first come, first served)

1:30 | Depart to Fire Mountain Trailhead 

1:45 | Trailhead Orientation and Overview of Fire Mountain 

2:00 | Walking tour of Fire Mountain with Trail Builders and Managers 

3:45 | Return to Conference Center 

4:15 | Closing & Q&A



IMBA Trail Solutions is the international leader in singletrack trail development. Their wealth of expertise has allowed them to develop the current guidelines for the creation of sustainable, enjoyable trails and bike parks that have influenced land management agencies around the world and are frequently adopted as best practices.

Recreation Resources Service is a partnership between NC State University and the NC Division of Parks & Recreation and was established for the specific purpose of providing assistance to both public and private NC leisure service agencies. Our mission is to encourage excellence in recreation, parks, and outdoor space design with a goal to foster public health and inclusivity by providing knowledge and technical expertise.

have you registered for the outdoor economy conference?

You do not have to be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to participate in the Trail Planning & Development Workshop, but Conference attendees do receive a significant discount!