Trails bring us closer to nature, it’s rich character, processes, and beauty.

In working with clients, Nicoterra Trails seeks to define the user experience:

Are we designing for a highly mobile hiker and primitive pathway of 24″ trail tread with minimal clearing and minimal structures or

Are we designing for a wider group, perhaps a group with access limitations:  our user needs are then better expressed for a wide, packed gravel surface of 36″-48″ trail tread; permeable surfaces whenever possible.   Next a process of evaluating the landscape similar to Design with Nature: Ian McHarg is used to site the pathway.  Much of the work relative to Design-Build trails then focus on ground work after site constraints and opportunities have been thought through with clients.

Small-scope projects typical of private clients on 5-10 acre wood lots or estates are developed with frequent communication and feedback: for instance posting the flag line for a walk-thru prior to construction.  These trails involve Points Of Interest, locations for plant enhancements, and views.  Building to a  sustainable “running slope” below 20% is one aspect of the professional quality of our trails.  These Design-Build arrangements can occur through: small works, time and materials, or firm-fixed sum contracts.

Large-scope projects have tended toward public and non-profit consultations for creation of feasibility studies, planning, and construction oversight/management.  In these capacities, Nicoterra Trails takes the “long view” that is, relationships matter most, we seek to build them, we also seek to educate where our expertise can be best applied.  To that end, our expertise includes:

  • Planning – strategic planning, feasibility analysis, visual enhancement planning, GIS mapping, aerial photo-interpretation;  Masters Degree urban planning
  • Environmental Systems – ecological restoration on riverine and upland PNW sites, tree and plant specialist; ISA Certified Arborist, Certified in Ecological Restoration
  • Trail dynamics – advocacy Pacific Northwest Trail designation for National Scenic Trail status, training-educating Secure Rural Schools Act work skills training through USDA Cost Share Agreements on the Olympic Peninsula (7 years)
  • Trail related – analysis timber structural conditions, scope of work-repairs, and cost estimating: Bridge Inspector WSDOT Certified (6 years King County & 2 years ODOT) experimental sustainable trail concepts-sterile wheat seed and wood straw for erosion control EMBA (Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance),  community stewardship established two (2) volunteer trail crews, tree planting demonstrations, tree pruning seminars, USDA sawyer “B” (expired), Northwest Certified Forestry -felling/bucking techniques & hazard tree evaluations (not expired), community  Advisory Board Washington State Recreational Trails Program (4 years-renewed to 2021)

Trails need to be designed and built with the greatest attention to managing surface water flow which is the primary erosive force acting on their features.  Proper out-sloping of trail tread is the single most important component to trail construction in wet environments.

Below is a list of Projects


Lost Falls Recreational Trails: Preliminary Feasibility-Post Falls, Idaho

Little Spokane River – Conservation and Trails

MM Newman Lake Trail Design-Build

F-T Trail Design-Build 

Latah-Hangman Creek Corridor Trail (Spokane) – Trail Planning 

Divide Trail, Pacific Ranger District USFS – Trail Evaluation

Walker Valley ORV Trails, WA State DNR – Trail Reconstruction PNTA

1st Beach Tsunami Evacuation Route Quileute Tribe PNTA

Snoqualmie Peak Alpine Trail Maintenance USFS

Duthie Hill HLC Pilot Project King County EMBA  

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