2023 Outdoor economy conference:

imba Trail Planning & Development Workshop

This 2023 Outdoor Economy Conference Trail Planning & Development Workshop is led by IMBA Trail Solutions, and will focus on planning, design, and implementation — guiding attendees through the stages of creating or enhancing a high quality trail system.

Trail Planning & Development Workshop Overview

Photo: Cata Norena

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. Throughout this workshop experts in the field will walk attendees through various case studies, most notably looking at the challenges and successes of Fire Mountain Trails in Cherokee.

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


This half-day workshop will be held on Monday, September 18th from 1:00pm-4:30pm at The Cherokee Convention Center

** Please Note: You MUST be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to attend this Workshop.

Cost: $75 for conference attendees

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)

1:00PM EST | Introductions and Welcome 

1:15 | Trail System Fundamentals – Principles of sustainable trails, understanding the needs of different users, and the key elements of trail development 

1:45 | Trail System Planning – the importance of the planning process, what should be included, and how to properly use a trail plan 

2:30 | 15 Min Break 

2:45 | Trail Design Introduction – trail design fundamentals and the impact and influence of the design on the development and management process  

3:15 | Implementation – Utilizing volunteers and contractors, permits, and RFP’s 

4:00 | Recap, Reflect, Q&A



IMBA Trail Solutions is the international leader in single track 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.

have you registered for the outdoor economy conference?

You MUST be registered for the Outdoor Economy Conference to participate in the Trail Planning & Development Workshop, so start by snagging your conference passes!