Glossary of Terms
"A" Horizon: The surface horizon of a mineral soil having maximum biological activity, or eluviation (removal of materials dissolved or suspended in water), or both.
ABC Soil: A soil with a complete profile, including an A, a B, and a C horizon.
AC Soil: A soil with an incomplete profile that includes an A and a C horizon, but no B horizon. Commonly such soils are young, like those developing from alluvium or on steep, rocky slopes.
Abandonment: As used by railroad companies means to cease operation on a line, or to terminate the line itself. In some instances termination includes the removal of the rails and ties for use in other areas or for sale as scrap.
Abney Level: Hand-held instrument that is adjusted like a sextant and can be set to a fixed gradient. The user sights through the Abney to a fixed reference (usually a second person) until the crosshair bisects the bubble, this indicates the preset grade.
Abutment: Structure at either extreme end of a bridge that supports the superstructure (sill, stringers, trusses, or decks) composed of stone, concrete, brick, or timber.
Access Points: Designated areas and passageways that allow the public to reach a trail from adjacent streets or community facilities.
Access Trail: Any trail that connects the main trail to a town, road, or another trail system.
Accessible: A term used to describe a site, building, facility, or trail that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility Guidelines and can be approached, entered, and used by people with disabilities.
Acclimatization: The gradual process of becoming physiologically accustomed to high altitude.
Action Plan: Provides a detailed outline of what needs to happen when in order to complete all the tasks and assign responsibilities for the tasks.
Acquisition: The act or process of acquiring fee title or interest of real property.
Active Transportation: Human-powered mobility, including walking, bicycling, inline skating, etc.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): A condition characterized by shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, nausea and other flu-like symptoms. It occurs at high altitude and is attributed to a shortage of oxygen. Most people don't experience symptoms until they reach heights well above 5,000 feet.
Ad Valorem Tax: A special tax levied to raise funds for a particular purpose of recognized value to the community.
Adaptive Management: A formal process for continually improving management policies and practices by learning from the outcomes of operational programs and new scientific information. Under adaptive management, plans and activities are treated as working hypotheses rather than final solutions to complex problems. This approach builds on common sense, experimentation, and learning from experience, which is then used in the implementation of plans. The process generally includes four phases: planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation.
Adopt-A-Trail: A program in which groups or businesses "adopt" trails, providing volunteer work parties at periodic intervals to help maintain the trail. Though no special trail privileges are granted, the trail manager generally acknowledges that a trail has been "adopted" by erecting signs that indicate the trail is part of an Adopt-A-Trail program and include the name of the adopter.
Advocacy: The process of influencing government to bring about desired changes; to be in support of something.
Adz (Adze): An ax-like tool for dressing wood.
Aggregate: Surface material made up of broken stone, gravel, and sand.
Aggregate (of Soil): Many fine soil particles held in a single mass or cluster, such as a clod, crumb, block, or prism. Many properties of the aggregate differ from those of an equal mass of unaggregated soil.
Aiming Off: The technique of purposefully erring to one side when following a compass bearing. Always try to go around obstacles on one side. When you arrive at a baseline, you will know in which direction to look for your intended destination.
Alignment: The layout of the trail in horizontal and vertical planes. The bends, curves, and ups and downs of the trail. The more the alignment varies, the more challenging the trail.
All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV): A wheeled or tracked vehicle, other than a snowmobile or work vehicle, designed primarily for recreational use or for the transportation of property or equipment exclusively on trails, undeveloped road rights-of-way, marshland, open country, or other unprepared surfaces.
Alluvium: Sand, mud, and other sediments deposited on land by streams.
Altimeter: An instrument for measuring altitude.
Altitude: The height of a thing or place above sea level.
Amenities: Any element used to enhance the user's experience and comfort along a trail.
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA): A federal law prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. Requires public entities and public accommodations to provide accessible accommodations for people with disabilities.
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG): Design guidelines for providing access to a range of indoor and outdoor settings by people with disabilities.
Anaphylactic Shock: An extreme allergic reaction in some people (caused by the body producing to much histamine) when stung by bees, wasps, yellow jackets, etc. Reactions include red skin, itchy hives, and the closing of the airways. If susceptible to anaphylaxis it would be wise to carry an Anakit prescribed by your doctor.
Angle: Angle is measured with a straight vertical as 90º and a straight horizontal as 0º. A grade of 100% would have an angle of 45º.
Anorak: Wind-proof jacket with hood attached.
Appraisal: An estimate and opinion of value, usually a written statement of the market value of an adequately described parcel of property as of a specified date.
Apron: One of the three main elements of a waterbar. It catches water running down the trail and directs it off. Apron is also the transition area on a switchback (also called the "landing").
Aquatic Habitat: Areas associated with water that provide food and shelter and other elements critical to completion of an organism's life cycle. Aquatic habitats include streams, wetlands, marshes, bogs, estuaries, and riparian areas, as well as large fresh and salt-water bodies.
Aquifer: Underground bodies of water. There are two types of aquifers. Open aquifers have permeable materials overlying them, e.g. soil with underlying loose gravel. Closed aquifers are capped with an impervious layer of material, such as clay, which prevents water from penetrating from the soils directly above. The water level in aquifers rises and falls in response to water removal and infiltration.
Arborist: An individual trained in arboriculture, forestry, landscape architecture, horticulture, or related fields and experienced in the conservation and preservation of native and ornamental trees.
Archaeological Resources (Cultural, Heritage): Any material of past human life, activities, or habitation that are of historic or prehistoric significance. Such materials include, but are not limited to, pottery, basketry, bottles, weapon projectiles, tools, structures, pit houses, rock paintings, rock carvings, graves, skeletal remains, personal items and clothing, household or business refuse, or any piece of the foregoing.
Archaeological Site: A concentration of material remains of past human life or activities that is of historic or prehistoric significance and that has been surveyed by a qualified archeologist.
Armoring: Reinforcement of a surface with rock, brick, stone, concrete, or other "paving" material.
Aspect: The particular compass direction a trail or site faces. Aspect affects the amount of solar radiation and year-round moisture to which a site is subjected.
Asphalt (Macadam, Asphaltic Concrete): Petroleum-based flexible surface material that provides a smoothly paved surface suitable for bicycles and in-line skates. It is preferred in urban areas where trails are often used for commuting to and from work or school.
Assessment, Trail or Corridor: Physical assessments undertaken to better understand a trail or corridor. Assessments include an accurate description and documentation of native elements and an inventory of built structures along the trail or corridor.
At-Grade Crossing: A trail crossing a roadway on the same elevation. Ideally, a safe at-grade crossing has either light automobile traffic or a traffic signal that can be activated by trail users.
Attractive Nuisance: Something on a trail or greenway that attracts users and that is potentially dangerous to them, such as a mineshaft without a fence around it.
Axe (Ax): A tool with a long handle and bladed head (single bit - one sharp side or double bit - two sharp sides) for chopping deadfall from trails, shaping stakes for turnpikes and waterbars, and cutting notches for structures made of timber.
"B" Horizon: A soil horizon, usually beneath an A horizon, or surface soil, in which 1) clay, iron, or aluminum, with accessory organic matter, have accumulated by receiving suspended material from the A horizon above it or by clay development in place; 2) the soil has a blocky or prismatic structure; or 3) the soil has some combination of these features. In soils with distinct profiles, the B horizon is roughly equivalent to the general term "subsoil."
BC Soil: A soil with a B and a C horizon but with little or no A horizon. Most BC soils have lost their A horizons by erosion.
Backcountry: An area where there are no maintained roads or permanent buildings-just primitive roads and trails.
Backcut: The vertical part of a bench cut that is blended into the backslope.
Backfill: Material used to refill a ditch or other excavation, or the process of doing this action.
Backpack (Backpacking): A large pack worn on the back to carry camping supplies. To go on an overnight hike carrying your supplies in a backpack.
Backslope: The cut bank along the uphill side of the trail extending upward from the tread. Usually sloped back by varying degrees, depending on bank composition and slope stability.
Balaclava: A form-fitting hood (fleece, wool, or synthetic) that covers not only the head but also the face and neck, it can be worn as a cap or pulled down over the ears to protect your face from wind.
Bald: Mountain with an open, grassy summit that's void of trees.
Ballast: Stone, cinders, gravel, or crushed rock fill material used to elevate a railroad bed above the surrounding grade. It drains water away from the ties, spreads the track load over softer subgrade, provides an even bearing for ties, holds ties in place and checks the growth of grass and weeds.
Bank (Embankment): The part of the soil next to a stream, lake, or body of water where the soil elevation adjacent to the water is higher than the water level.
Bar: A sand or gravel deposit in a streambed that is often exposed only during low water periods.
Bark Spud: A tool with a 1- to 4-foot long wood handle and a dished blade used to remove bark from logs by sliding between the bark and the wood.
Barricade: A portable or fixed barrier having object markings, used to close all or a portion of the trail right-of-way to traffic.
Barrier: A structure installed to protect an environmentally sensitive area. A barrier can be hard (fence); live (planted); a combination of hard and live; or a terrain feature (berm). A barrier can be physical (obstructing passage) or psychological (deterring access).
Barrier-Free Design: A trail design that promotes the elimination of physical barriers that reduce access by people with disabilities.
Base: The primary excavated bed of a trail upon which the tread, or finished surface lies.
Base Camp: A semi-permanent camp set up after traveling into an area from which day trips for trail work or enjoyment can be made. This allows you to leave heavy gear in one place for several days.
Base Course: The layer or layers of specified material of designed thickness placed on a trailbed to support surfacing.
Base Layer: The layer of clothing closest to the skin.
Base Map: A map showing the important natural and built features of an area. (Such maps are used to establish consistency when maps are used for various purposes.)
Baseline: A line of reference crossing your path of travel used to make following a compass bearing closer to foolproof. Baselines include roads, powerlines, railroad tracks, and rivers. If you are heading to a bridge over a river, set the compass bearing for the bridge. If you are off by several degrees, you will arrive at your baseline of the river, knowing that you need to look for the bridge.
Batter: The angle at which an abutment or rock wall is inclined against the earth it retains.
Bearing, Compass: The direction of travel from one point to another. The first point is always true north (or magnetic north if your compass has not been adjusted for declination). A bearing of 90 degrees is to travel directly east. You can also "take a bearing" on an object to see in which direction it lies in relation to your location.
Bed: The excavated surface on which a trail tread lies.
Bed: The bottom of a channel, creek, river, stream, or other body of water.
Bedrock: Solid rock material underlying soils and other earthy surface formations.
Belay: Securing a climber by using a rope through one or more fixed anchors usually held by two people.
Belayer: The person controlling the tension of the rope that is securing a climber.
Bench: A long seat (with or without a back) for two or more people.
Bench, Full: Where the total width of the trail tread is excavated out of the slope and the trail tread contains no compacted fill material.
Bench, Half: Where half the width of the trail tread is excavated out of the slope and the outside of the trail tread contains the excavated and compacted material.
Bench, Partial: Where part of the width of the trail tread is excavated out of the slope and the rest of the trail tread is made up of fill material.
Bench Cut: A relatively flat, stable surface (tread) on a hillside occurring naturally or by excavation. When excavated often referred to as full, half, or partial bench.
Bench Mark: A metal disk set into the ground for use as an exact reference point by surveyors. Bench marks are indicated on a topographic map with an X and the letter BM with an elevation next to it.
Benefits-Based Approach: An approach to evaluating the delivery of park, recreation, and trail resources, facilities, and services which focuses on identifying the economic, environmental, and social benefits specifically and directly attributable to the cost of providing the opportunities from which the benefits are derived.
Bent: Structural member or framework used for strengthening a bridge or trestle transversely.
Berm: The ridge of material formed on the outer edge of the trail that projects higher than the center of the trail tread.
Best Management Practices (BMP): A suite of techniques that guide, or may be applied to, management actions to aid in achieving desired outcomes. Best management practices are often developed in conjunction with land use plans, but they are not considered a land use plan decision unless the land use plan specifies that they are mandatory. They may be up-dated or modified without a plan amendment if they are not mandatory.
Bike Lane: A portion of a roadway that has been designated by striping, signing, and pavement markings for the preferential or exclusive use of bicyclists.
Bike Path (Shared Use Path, Bicycle Path, Bike Trail, Multi-use Path/Trail): Any corridor that is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or barrier, and that is either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way. Besides bicycles these paths may also be shared by pedestrians, skaters, wheelchair users, joggers, and other non-motorized users. The term bicycle path is becoming less common, since such facilities are rarely used exclusively by bicyclists.
Bike Route: A shared right-of-way located on lightly traveled streets and roadways designated with appropriate "bike route" directional and informational signs. These signs help encourage use, and warn motorists that bicycles may be present.
Bikeways: Any road, path, or way which in some manner is specifically designated as being open to bicycle travel, regardless of whether such facilities are designated for the exclusive use of bicycles or are to be shared with other transportation modes.
Biodegradable: Able to decompose when exposed to biological agents and soil chemicals.
Biodiversity: The variety and variability within and among living populations and species of organisms and the ecosystems in which they occur.
Birdcage: Wire rope that has begun to unwrap individual strands of wire.
Bivouac: The site where a tent is set up. To spend a night out without a tent.
Bivouac Sack (Bivy Sack): A lightweight, unfilled, waterproof bag that can cover a sleeping bag.
Blaze: A trail marker. Blazes can be made on a tree by scraping away some of the bark and painting a 2-inch by 6-inch vertical rectangle. Plastic or metal triangles or diamonds (known as blazes) with the name of the trail or a directional arrow imprinted can be purchased and nailed to trees to mark a trail route.
Blaze, Blue: The color often used to paint blazes that mark side trails to a campsite or a town off main trails such as the Appalachian Trail. Many other trails follow the Appalachian Trail example.
Blaze, Blue: When used as a verb it means to take trails other than the official trail you are on because they offer a shorter or easier alternative to your route.
Blaze, Double: Two blazes (vertical alignment) that denote a change in direction or junction in the trail ahead. Usually the top blaze is offset in the direction of the turn.
Blaze, White: White blazes are generally used to mark a main or trunk trail such as the Appalachian Trail.
Bleeder (Kick Out, Diversion Dip): Graded depression angled to drain water sideways off the treadway.
Blister: A thin, round swelling of the skin, filled with fluid, caused by rubbing.
Block: Pulley in which a rope or cable is thread through.
Block, Snatch: Pulley with hinged side plate that opens allowing attachment anywhere along a fixed rope.
Blowdown (Windfall): Anything (trees, limbs, brush, etc.) blown down on the trail by the wind.
Blowout: An area from which soil material has been removed by wind. Such an area appears as a nearly barren, shallow depression with a flat or irregular floor consisting of a resistant layer, an accumulation of pebbles, or wet soil lying just above a water table.
Blueway(s): River and stream corridors of protected open space used for conservation and recreation purposes. They protect natural, historical, cultural, and recreational resources and preserve scenic landscapes.
Bluff: A steep headland, riverbank, or cliff.
Boardwalk: A fixed planked structure, usually built on pilings in areas of wet soil or water to provide dry crossings.
Bog(s): A mucky or peaty surface soil underlain by peat where little direct sunlight reaches the trail, or where there are flat areas that are difficult to drain.
Bollard: A barrier post, usually 30 to 42 inches in height, used to block vehicular traffic at trail access points. Should be installed in odd numbers (one or three).
Bonk: When muscles completely run out of fuel and you're tired. Can be cured by consuming carbohydrate-rich foods.
Borrow: Fill material required for on-site trail construction and obtained from other nearby locations.
Borrow Pit: Area where soil, gravel, or rock materials are removed to be used on the trail for tread, embankments, or backfilling.
Bow Saw: A 16-, 21-, or 36-inch thin bladed saw with a curved handle used to cut brush or trim small branches.
Braiding (Braided Trail): The process of numerous parallel routes being created; identified by worn and eroded vegetation.
Bridge: A structure, including supports, erected over a depression (stream, river, chasm, canyon, or road) and having a deck for carrying trail traffic. If the bridge is over two feet above the surface, it should have railings.
Bridleway (Bridle Path): Public way designed and maintained primarily for equestrian use. Other nonmotorized uses may be permitted.
Brush: Vegetation or small flora.
Brushing: To clear the trail corridor of plants, trees, and branches, which could impede the progress of trail users.
Brushing-In (Obliteration): To pile logs, branches, rocks, or duff along the sides of the tread to keep users from widening the trail; or to fill in a closed trail with debris so that it will not be used.
Buffer (Buffer Zone): Any type of natural or constructed barrier (trees, shrubs, or wooden fences) used between the trail and adjacent lands to minimize impacts (physical or visual). Buffers also provide a transition between adjacent land uses.
Bump-up Box (Leapfrog Box, Floater Box): Box containing supplies that a thru-hiker needs but doesn't want to carry. It is mailed ahead to next resupply point.
Bush Hook (Bank Blade): These tools are used for clearing brush, briar, or undergrowth too heavy for a scythe and not suited for an ax. The Bush Hook with a 36-inch handle and 12-inch hooked blade (sharpened on one side) cuts easily on the "pull" stroke. The Bank Blade is similar to a Bush Hook, but its wide blade is straight and sharpened on both sides.
Bushwhack: Off-trail hiking (originally where the going was difficult, where many bushes had to be whacked). Now it is often used to mean off-trail travel regardless of whether the going is difficult or not.
Bylaws: Set of regulations adopted by a trail or greenway organization that governs the way the organization will do business.
"C" Horizon: The unconsolidated rock material in the lower part of the soil profile that is similar to the materail from which the upper horizons (or at least a part of the B horizon) have developed.
Cable, Wire: A thick, heavy rope, made of wire strands.
Cable Fly Zone: The hazardous area a cable can potentially move to when it comes under tension, or is suddenly released from tension.
Cable Gripper: A device that clamps onto a cable when tension is applied to the attachment point.
Cable Strap: A pre-cut length of wire rope (that may have eyes on both ends), which is used in rigging applications.
Cache: A supply of food, water, or tools, usually buried or hidden.
Cagoule: Long anorak descending below the knees.
Cairn: A constructed pile of rocks located adjacent to a trail used to mark the route. Often used in open or treeless areas where the tread is indistinct.
Caliche: A broad term for the more or less cemented deposits of calcium carbonate in many soils of warm, temperate areas, as in the southwestern states. When it is very near the surface or exposed by erosion, the material hardens.
Call Box: An emergency telephone system installed along a trail with direct connection to the local 911 network.
Camp (Camping): Site where overnight stays are permitted.
Canal: An artificial waterway for transportation or irrigation. Canal and irrigation ditch banks are often used as trails.
Canopy: The leaf cover in a forest stand, consisting of its upper layers.
Cap Rock: Rock placed in the top or uppermost layer in a constructed rock structure, such as a rock retaining wall.
Capacity (Carrying Capacity): Maximum number of trail users that can pass through a given trail section during a given time period under existing trail conditions. Also refers to the amount of use a given resource can sustain before an irreversible deterioration in the quality of the resource begins to occur.
Carabiner: An oblong metal clip with a spring-loaded gate used to clip slings to ropes or ropes to anchors.
Catch Point: The outer limits of a trailway where the excavation and/or embankment intersect with the ground line.
Categorical Exclusion (CE): A technical exclusion for federal projects that do not result in significant environmental impacts. Such projects are not required to prepare environmental reviews.
Causeway: Elevated section of trail contained by rock, usually through permanently or seasonally wet areas.
Center Line: An imaginary line marking the center of the trail. During construction, the center line is usually marked by placing a row of flags or stakes.
Certificate of Interim Trail Use (CITU): A document issued by the STB in regular (non-exempt) abandonment proceedings where a railroad and a trail manager have expressed a mutual willingness to negotiate a railbanking agreement. It permits interim trail use and allows the railroad to discontinue service, cancel tariffs, and salvage track and materials 30 days after it is issued. It further provides for a 180-day period for negotiation of a final agreement that, if reached, delays the effective date of full abandonment during the period the agreement is in effect.
Certification: The process by which sites and segments of national historic (and some national scenic) trails are officially recognized by the administering federal agency.
Chain Saw: A portable, gas-operated saw with a loop chain carrying cutting teeth.
Charrette: A public design workshop in which designers, property owners, developers, public officials, environmentalists, citizens, and other persons or groups of people work in harmony to achieve an agreeable trail or greenway project.
Check Dam: Log, rock, or wood barrier placed across deeply eroded trails or erosion channels to slow the flow of water enough to allow accumulation of fine fill material behind the structure to fill in the trail tread.
Check Point: A landmark, that can be easily identified on the ground to let you know when to leave a "handrail" and begin a new course of travel.
Chigger (Redbug): The tiny, red larva of certain mites. Bites cause itching and red welts.
Chock: Any metal device that is inserted into rock as an anchor.
Choker: Loop of rope or cable cinched around a load so it gets tighter, or "chokes" the load under pressure.
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA): A well-known wood preservative for boardwalks, decks, and other common trail applications where treated lumber is used.
Circle of Danger: The area surrounding a trail worker that is unsafe due to tool use. The inner (or primary) circle of danger is the area the tool can reach while being used. The outer circle of danger is the area the tool could reach if the trail worker lost control or let go of the tool.
Cistern: A small collection pool constructed from rock or rot-resistant wood to help protect water quality in heavily used areas.
Classification: The designation indicating intended use and maintenance specifications for a particular trail.
Clay: A firm, plastic soil with particles less than 0.002 mm in diameter.
Clearcut (Clear-cutting): Removal of all trees and shrubs, not just mature growth.
Clearing: Removal of windfall trees, uproots, leaning trees, loose limbs, wood chunks, etc. from both the vertical and horizontal trail corridor.
Clearing Height (Vertical Clearance): The vertical dimension, which must be cleared of all tree branches and other obstructions that would otherwise obstruct movement along the trail.
Clearing Limit: The area over and beside a trail that is cleared of trees, limbs, and other obstructions.
Clearing Title (Curing Defects to Title): Defects in title include such things as mortgages, reversions, liens for payment of work done on the property, or easements across a property, which would otherwise be held in fee simple. Curing means removing these defects (e.g. buying out or condemning the easement or reversion).
Clearing Width: The outer edges of clearing areas (cleared of trees, limbs, and other obstructions) as specified by trail use.
Clevis (Shackle): A U-shaped metal piece with holes in each end through which a pin or bolt is run. Used to attach two objects together.
Climbing Turn: A turn which is constructed on a grade of 20% or less when measured between the exterior boundaries of the turn, and which follows the grade as it changes the direction of the trail 120 to 180 degrees.
Clinometer: A hand-held instrument used for measuring percent of trail grade. The user sights through the Clinometer to a reference (usually a second person) and reads the measurement directly from the internal scale.
Clod: A mass of soil produced by digging, which usually clumps together easily with repeated wetting and drying.
Closed: Designated areas or trails where specified trail uses are permanently or temporarily prohibited.
Cluster Zoning (Cluster Development): A local ordinance that encourages a developer to concentrate structures in a multi-unit development project. By clustering the units on a property rather than spreading them out in traditional, evenly sized housing plots, critical open space on the site-stream valleys, wooded areas, wetlands, and dunes-can remain intact. Often this open space is commonly owned and held jointly in undivided shares.
Cobble (Cobblestone): Loose rock over 2 1/2 inches in diameter.
Col: A pass between two mountain peaks; or a low spot in a mountain ridge.
Collector Ditch: A drainage structure that intercepts water flowing toward a trail and channels it underneath the trail through a culvert.
Colluvium: Mixed deposits of soil material and rock fragments near the base of steep slopes. Deposits accumulate through soil creep, slides, and local wash.
Come-along: A strong cable fitted with a ratchet to gain mechanical advantage for moving heavy objects over the ground with comparative ease. It is often used in trail work to move large rocks or bridge timbers.
Compacted: The degree of soil consolidation that is obtained by tamping with hand tools or, or heavy equipment.
Compaction: The compression of aggregate, soil, or fill material into a more dense mass by tamping.
Compass: A direction-indicating device that is used with a map to plot a route or check your position.
Comprehensive Plan: Local government plan that meets state statute requirements, and thus contains the guidelines, principles, and standards for the orderly, coordinated and balanced future economic, social, physical, environmental, and fiscal development of the area.
Concrete: A composition of coarse and fine aggregates, portland cement, and water, blended to give a hard, unyielding, nearly white pavement, which can be finished to any degree of smoothness. Concrete is most often used in urban areas with anticipated heavy trail use, or in areas susceptible to flooding.
Condemnation: The taking of private property by government for public use, when the owner will not relinquish it through sale or other means; the owner is compensated by payment of market value. The power to take the property is based on the concept of eminent domain.
Conductive Heat Loss: Occurs when the body loses heat to the air, water, or fabric that is in contact with the body at a lower temperature. Falling into cold water, for example, can cause you lose all your body heat to the water.
Conflict Resolution: Resolution is an outcome that develops from complete analysis and meets the needs of all concerned parties. Inherent in the process is clear and open communication, mutual respect, shared exploration, an orientation to collaborative problem solving, and a commitment to resolution.
Connectivity: The ability to create functionally contiguous blocks of land or water through linkage of similar native landscapes; the linking of trails, greenways, and communities.
Conservation: Controlled use and protection of natural resources.
Construct (Construction): Building a trail where no trail previously existed.
Contour Line(s): A line on a topographic map connecting points of the land surface that have the same elevation.
Contour Trail: Trail constructed such that it follows a contour, with its elevation remaining constant.
Contracting Officer (CO): An agency official with the authority to enter into, administer, and/or terminate contracts and make related determinations and findings.
Control Points (Targets): Features that trail users will want to naturally head towards, or try to avoid (views, obstacles, etc.). These features should be flagged and used to help layout a trail.
Convective Heat Loss: This most common form of heat loss occurs when air and water come into contact, or near-contact, with your body and carry heat away with them.
Corduroy: A rustic form of puncheon using native logs (3 to 5 feet in length) laid parallel on wet saturated ground and covered with a tread of soil. Corduroy typically rots out quickly.
Corridor, Scenic: Land set aside on either side of a trail to act as a buffer zone protecting the trail against impacts such as logging or development, which would detract from the quality and experience of a trail.
Corridor, Trail: The full dimensions of a route, including the tread and a zone on either side (2 to 3 feet) and above the tread from which brush will be removed.
Corridor, Utilitarian: Linear built features which have a primary utilitarian purpose but which may also serve as connections for recreational, cultural, or natural needs.
Counter, Trail-Traffic: Used to gather numbers of individuals or groups using a trail. The three most commonly used types of trail-traffic counters are loop-type, photoelectric, and seismic sensor plate counters.
Counter, Loop-Type: A large loop (approximately 8" by 48") is concealed under a layer of earth in the center of the trail; impulses triggered by users passing over the loop are stored as counts in the unit's memory device.
Counter, Photoelectric: Consists of a scanner that emits an infrared beam, and a reflector that returns the beam to the scanner; the counter is advanced when the beam is interrupted (active infrared detection), or if the sensor detects body heat and motion (passive infrared).
Counter, Seismic Sensor Plate: Pressure-sensitive sensor plates or mats are buried in the trail; wires are connected to the counter unit concealed off-trail. The counter must be adjusted for both sensitivity and length of delay between readings; to avoid multiple counts for people, horses, or groups.
Course: An even layer of stones, similar to a course of bricks, that forms a foundation, intermediate layer, or cap stone layer in a stonewall.
Cover, Ground: Vegetation or other material providing protection to a surface; area covered by live above ground parts of plants.
Cradle Timber: A mid-span timber used to transfer the load of the bridge to the truss system.
Crampon(s): Spikes that attach to the soles of boots, for traveling on hard snow or ice.
Creek: Those areas where surface waters flow sufficiently to produce a defined channel or bed.
Creep: Slow mass movement of soil down relatively steep slopes, primarily by gravity and water.
Critical Point: The outside edge of the trail. It's called the critical point because this is where trail maintenance problems (usually related to drainage) begin. Rounding the outside edge helps water to leave the edge of the trail.
Cross-Country (Travel): Hiking or riding across open country rather than on a trail.
Cross Section (Typical Cross Section or Typical, Profile): Diagrammatic presentation of a trail or path profile, which is at right angles to the centerline at a given location.
Crosscut Saw: A long saw that was favored a century ago by loggers felling trees. Used today in federally designated Wilderness Areas, or by those who prefer not to use chainsaws.
Crosswalk: Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.
Crown (Crowning): A method of trail construction where the center portion of the tread is raised to allow water to disperse to either side of the trail.
Crowned Trail: A trail bed built up from the surrounding area and sloped for drainage (usually by excavating trenches parallel to the trail).
Crusher Fines (Crusher Run, Crushed Stone, Limestone Fines): Limestone, granite, or gravel that has been run through a crusher, which once wetted and compacted creates a smooth hard trail surface for high-use areas.
Cryptosporidiosis: A disease of the intestinal tract caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium parvum occurring in untreated backcountry water sources. Common symptoms include stomach cramps and diarrhea.
Culvert, Cross Drainage: Pipe- or box-like construction of wood, metal, plastic, or concrete that passes under a trail to catch surface water from side ditches and direct it away from a trail.
Culvert, Stream Bed: Pipe- or box-like construction of wood, metal, plastic, or concrete that conveys a stream under a trail without constricting waterflow.
Curb Cut: A cut in the curb where a trail crosses a street. The curb cut should be the same width as the trail.
Curvilinear: A free-flowing trail layout pattern characterized by the general absence of straight trail segments allowing for ease of trail user movement.
Cushion Material: Native or imported material, generally placed over rocky sections of unsurfaced trail to provide a usable and maintained travelway.
Customer: The user, consumer, patron, guest, stakeholder, or visitor who consumes a product, resource, or service provided "free," at some level of fee or user charge below the true cost, or at full cost from a park and recreation agency or private concessionaire operating under the control of the park and recreation agency.
Cut and Fill: The process of removing soil from one area and placing it elsewhere to form a base for any given activity.
Cut Slope: An earthen slope that is cut. For example, a trail built lower than the existing terrain would result in a cut slope.
Day Pack: A soft pack (smaller than a backpack), favored by day hikers and trail workers for carrying food, water, and other supplies.
Daylight Edge: The outer edge of a trail. The point where the trailway and the cross slope meet.
Daylighting: Clearing a ditch or drain so that water can run freely, or all the way to "daylight."
Deadfall: A tangled mass of fallen trees or branches.
De-berming: Removing the high ridge of material that has formed along the outer edge of a trail, allowing water to once again flow off the trail and not down the trail.
Debris: Any undesirable material that encroaches on a trail and hinders the intended use.
Decking (Flooring): That part of a bridge, puncheon, or boardwalk structure that provides direct support for trail traffic.
Declination: The measurement describing the difference between true north and magnetic north.
Deed: A legal document that transfers a property.
DEET: The active ingredient (chemical name N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) used in many insect repellents to repel biting pests such as mosquitoes and ticks.
Dehydration: A depletion of body fluids that can hinder the body's ability to regulate its own temperature.
Demand: The demand (number of visitors in relation to price) for goods or services that cannot be met because of a lack of market capacity to respond to the demand. Demand for trails and greenways that cannot be satisfied with the existing facilities. A demand approach can be used to estimate the existing and future recreation use of an area.
Designated on the Ground: The location of materials, work areas, and construction items, including lines and grades, marked on the ground with stakes, flagging, or paint.
Designated Trail: A trail that is approved and maintained by an agency either seasonally or yearlong.
Destination Trail: A trail that connects two distinct points (A to B) rather than returning the user to the original beginning point.
Difficulty Rating: A subjective rating of trail difficulty based on an average user with average physical abilities. For example the US Forest Service uses Easy, More Difficult, Most Difficult. Many other agencies use the following:
Easy: relaxing, posing minimal difficulties and able to be traveled with little physical effort. Moderate is defined as not requiring excessive or extreme physical effort. Difficult is defined as physically strenuous requiring excessive or extreme physical effort.
Digging-Tamping Bar: A long bar with a small blade at one end for loosening compacted or rocky soil and a flattened end for tamping.
Dike (Tramway, Tram, Levee): An embankment or dam made to prevent flooding by the sea, a river/stream, or lake. The embankment is often used as a trail.
Dip (Grade Dip, Drainage Dip, Rolling Dip, Coweta Dip): A reverse or gradual dip in the grade of the trail, 20 to 40 feet long, followed by a gradual rise of 2 to 3 feet with the rise at an angle to the outslope to divert water off the trail. This accomplishes the same effect as a waterbar, but will last longer due to the gentle dip and rise of the trail grade.
Directional Use Trail: A trail laid out in such a way as to encourage users to travel in one direction.
Dispersed Recreation: Recreation activities that occur outside of developed recreation facilities away from maintained roads. Also referred to as backcountry recreation.
Disturbed Area: Area where vegetation or topsoil has been removed, or where topsoil, spoil, or waste has been placed.
Ditch: A long, narrow trench used to improve drainage.
Ditching, Sidehill: A ditch which parallels the treadway on the uphill side to collect water seeping into the trail, usually ends in a drainage ditch which allows the water to cross the trail.
Dodgeway: A v-shaped stile through fences, used to allow hikers to pass through livestock enclosures.
Doubletrack Trail: A trail that allows for two users to travel side by side, or make passes without one user having to yield the trail. Double-track trails are often old forest roads.
Down and Out: The correct position of a carabiner gate when it is connected to an anchor.
Downed Tree: Fallen tree that blocks the trail.
Downslope: The downhill side of a trail.
Drain, Cobble: A cobbled improvement to the trail surface that allows drainage (usually from an intermittent wet seep) across the trail for continued passage along the trail without damage to the soil.
Drainage: Getting water off the trail.
Drainage, Cross: Running water in swamps, springs, creeks, drainages, or draws that the trail must cross.
Drainage, Sheet: Desirable condition in which water flows in smooth sheets rather than rivulets; slower flow and less concentration results in less erosion.
Drainage, Surface: Rain or snow runoff from the surface of the tread.
Drainage Ditch (Ditching): Open ditches running parallel to the trail tread that collect water and carry it away from the site. A drainage ditch is also an element of a waterbar, providing an escape route for water diverted from the trail by the bar.
Drains, French: Stone filled ditches that can have a porous pipe laid along the base to collect the water and carry it away from the site. The top must be kept clear of the surfacing material; allowing water to run freely into the drain.
Drawings: Documents showing details for construction of a trail or trail-related facility, including but not limited to straight-line diagrams, trail logs, standard drawings, construction logs, plan and profile sheets, cross-sections, diagrams, layouts, schematics, descriptive literature, and similar materials.
Drawknife: A tool with a sharp blade and handles at both ends used to strip bark from small-diameter logs.
Drift: Material of any sort deposited by geological processes in one place after having been removed from another. Glacial drift includes the materials deposited by glaciers and by the stream and lakes associated with them.
Drop-off: Slope that falls away steeply.
Drought: A period of dryness, especially a long one. Usually considered to be any period of soil moisture deficiency within the plant root zone. A period of dryness of sufficient length to deplete soil moisture to the extent that plant growth is seriously retarded.
Duff: A matted layer of decaying organic plant matter (leaves, needles, etc.) of forested soils. It is highly absorbent and quickly erodes under traffic.
Dunes: Ridges or mounds of loose, wind-blown material, usually sand.
Duty of Care: The legal "duty of care" that a landowner owes a member of the general public varies from state to state, but generally liability depends on the status of the injured person. Liability increases from the lowest risk for a "trespasser," then "licensee," "invitee," with highest owed to a "child."
Easement: Grants the right to use a specific portion of land for a specific purpose or purposes. Easements may be limited to a specific period of time or may be granted in perpetuity; or the termination of the easement may be predicated upon the occurrence of a specific event. An easement agreement survives transfer of landownership and is generally binding upon future owners until it expires on its own terms.
Easement, Conservation: Places permanent restrictions on property in order to protect natural resources.
Easement, Construction: An additional temporary area or corridor needed to construct a trail or facility.
Easement, Maintenance: An additional permanent area or corridor (not open to the public) needed to maintain trail drainage, foliage, and recurring maintenance needs.
Easement, Recreation: Provides public access to private property while limiting or indemnifying the owner's public liability.
Easement, Scenic: Places permanent restrictions on a property in order to protect the natural view.
Ecology: The branch of biology that deals with the mutual relations among organisms and between organisms and their environment.
Economic Impact (Benefit, Value): The extent to which a given one-time economic event or ongoing economic activity contributes to the economy of a region. Economic impacts from trails can include: the building of new trails (one-time economic event), spending directly associated with trail users (ongoing economic activity), and additional spending induced by spending from trail users (indirect economic impact).
Ecosystem: A system formed by the interaction of living organisms, including people, with their environment. An ecosystem can be of any size, such as a log, pond, field, forest, or the earth's biosphere.
Eco-Tourism (Eco-recreation, Nature-Based Tourism): Purposeful travel to natural areas to understand the culture and natural history of the environment, taking care not to alter the integrity of the ecosystem, while producing economic opportunities that make the conservation of natural resources beneficial to local people.
Elevation: The height of a place (mountain or other landmark) given in the number of feet or meters above sea level.
Elliptical Triangle (Pregnant Triangle): Shape of signs and blazes that mark trails in the National Trails System.
Embankment: Structure made from soil used to raise the trail, railbed, or roadway above the existing grade.
Eminent Domain: The authority of a government to take (usually by purchase) private property for public use.
End-to-Ender: A person who has traveled the entire distance between termini of a long distance trail.
Endangered Species: A species of animal or plant is considered to be endangered when its prospects for survival and reproduction are in immediate jeopardy from one or more causes.
Enhancement Funds: Under TEA-21, independent funds available for bicycling and walking facilities, rail-trails, and eleven other activities.
Entrenchment: Sunken tracks or grooves in the tread surface cut in the direction of travel by the passage of water or trail users.
Environment: All external conditions that may act upon an organism or soil to influence its development, including sunlight, temperature, moisture, and other organisms.
Environment, Natural: Those parts of the landscape with features more closely resembling what they otherwise would presumably be like if they were left undisturbed by human activities.
Environmental Assessment (EA): A document prepared early in a planning process (federal) that evaluates the potential environmental consequences of a project or activity. An assessment includes the same topical areas as an EIS, but only assesses the effects of a preferred action, and in less detail than an EIS. An EA results in a decision, based on an assessment of the degree of impact of an action, that an EIS is necessary, or that an action will have no significant effect and a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) can be made.
Environmental Education: Activities that use a structured process to build knowledge, in students and others, about environmental topics.
Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): An EIS is a full disclosure, detailed federal report which, pursuant to Section 102(2)C of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), establishes the need for the proposed action, identifies alternatives with the potential to meet the identified need, analyzes the anticipated environmental consequences of identified alternatives, and discusses how adverse effects may be mitigated. An EIS is prepared in two stages: a draft statement which is made available to the public for review and a final statement which is revised on the basis of comments made on the draft statement.
Ephemeral Creek: A temporary or short-lived water flow, especially after a heavy rain. Most of the year it's a dry creek bed.
Equestrian: Of horses, horseback riding, riders, and horsemanship.
Erodible Soil: Soil susceptible to erosion.
Erosion: Natural process by which soil particles are detached from the ground surface and moved downslope, principally by the actions of running water (gully, rill, or sheet erosion). The combination of water falling on the trail, running down the trail, and freezing and thawing, and the wear and tear from traffic create significant erosion problems on trails.
Erosion, Gully (Gullying): Where concentrations of runoff water cut into the soil forming single or numerous channels greater than one foot below post-construction tread depth usually on steep terrain.
Erosion, Rill: Removal of soil particles from a bank slope or trail tread by surface runoff moving through relatively small channels.
Erosion, Sheet: The removal of a fairly uniform layer of soil material from the land surface by the action of rainfall and runoff water.
Erosion, Splash: The spattering of small soil particles caused by the impact of raindrops on wet soils. The loosened and spattered particles may or may not be subsequently removed by surface runoff.
Erosion, Wind: Removal of soil particles by wind, causing dryness and deterioration of soil structure; occurs most frequently in flat, dry areas covered by sand or loamy soils.
Erosion Control: Techniques intended to reduce and mitigate soil movement from water, wind, and trail user traffic.
Escarpment: A steep slope or cliff formed by the erosion of the inclined strata of hard rocks.
Estuary: A partially enclosed body of water freely connected to the ocean, within which the seawater is diluted by mixing with freshwater and where tidal fluctuations affect river water levels. The estuary is a dynamic system typified by brackish water, variable and often high nutrient levels and by shallow water conditions often associated with marsh plants in upper tidal zones and eelgrass in lower tidal zones.
Evaporative Heat Loss: When you sweat, you lose heat through the evaporation of the liquid. This is great in warm weather because it cools the body; but when it is cold and once you stop moving, your clothes remain wet, which can lead to chilling.
Excess Excavation: Material in the trailway in excess of that needed for construction of the designated trail.
Exotic Species: A plant introduced from another country or geographic region outside its natural range.
Exposure: The relative hazards encountered when one takes into consideration obstacles, alignment, grade, clearing, tread width, tread surface, sideslope, isolation, and proximity to steep slopes or cliffs.
Extended Trail: Trails over 100 miles in length (as defined in the National Trails System Act).
Facer: Structural member in retaining walls and abutments that is placed at right angle to the structure or trail tread.
Fall Line: Direction water flows down a hill (path of least resistance). Constructing a trail on the fall line encourages water to run down the trail.
Fascines (Wattles): Stems and branches of rootable plant material (willow, dogwood, and alder, for example) that are tied together in long bundles, placed in shallow trenches on contour, and staked down to stabilize erodible slopes.
Fault: A fracture in rock along which movement can be demonstrated. A fracture in the earth's crust forming a boundary between rock masses that have shifted.
Fauna: The animal populations and species of a specified region.
Fee Simple (Fee Simple Absolute): An interest in land in which the owner is entitled to the entire property without limitation or restriction, and with unconditional power of disposition.
Fee Simple Determinate: Similar to Fee Simple Absolute, but states condition(s) under which the property will revert to the original owner/grantor.
Feeder Trail: A trail designed to connect local facilities, neighborhoods, campgrounds, etc. to a main trail.
Fence: A constructed barrier of wood, masonry, stone, wire, or metal, erected to screen or separate areas.
Feng Shui (pronounced "fung shway"): Literally meaning wind & water. The Chinese art and science of arranging spaces and elements in the space (in or outdoor) to create harmonious energy flows and patterns, tempering or enhancing the energy where necessary.
File: A hand-held 10- to 12-inch flat steel tool with a rough, ridged surface for smoothing or grinding. Used to keep trail tools sharp.
Fill (Material): Gravel or soil used to fill voids in trail tread and to pack behind retaining walls and other structures.
Fill Slope: Area of excavated material cast on the downslope side of trail cut (also called embankment).
Fines, Soil: Smallest soil particles important for binding the soil together; silt fines are often the first particles to move when erosion takes place.
Fire Rake: A tool with triangular tines used to cut duff and debris from fire breaks or trail corridors.
Firebreak: A strip of forest or prairie land cleared or plowed to stop or prevent the spread of fire.
Fire Road: Unimproved dirt road that allows fire fighting and ranger vehicles access to the backcountry.
Fiscal Year (FY): Annual schedule for keeping financial records and for budgeting funds. The Federal fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30, while most state fiscal year's run from July 1 through June 30.
Fixed Rope (Cable): A rope or cable that is set in place to assist in moving large objects.
Flagging: Thin ribbon used for marking during the location, design, construction, or maintenance of a trail project.
Flagline: Flagging, tied to trees, indicating the intended course of a trail prior to construction.
Flags, Wire: Wire wands with square plastic flags at one end for field layout and marking of new trail or relocations of trail sections.
Flip-Flop: To travel on a long distance trail continuously, time-wise but not necessarily in the same direction. For example, you might flip-flop on the Appalachian Trail by hiking north from Springer Mountain, GA to Harpers Ferry, WV, and then hiking south to Harper Ferry from Mount Katahdin in ME in the same year.
Floodplain(s): Flat, occasionally flooded areas, bordering streams, rivers, or other bodies of water, susceptible to changes in the surface level of the water. Floodplains are formed of fluvial sediments and are periodically flooded and modified when streams overflow. Stream channels meander within unconfined floodplains, alternately creating and isolating habitats.
Floodway: The channel of a river or stream where the annual rising or lowering of water occurs.
Flora: The plant populations and species of a specified region.
Flushcut: Branch or sapling cut flush with the trunk or ground.
Flushes: An area of soil enriched by transported soil minerals brought by water from elsewhere (opposite of leaching).
Fly Ash: Waste material from coal-burning power plants. May be mixed with lime and earth as a combined base and surface material for trail tread.
Footpath: A path over which the public has a right-of-way on foot only. Wheelchairs are also permitted, although this may not be practical due to surface or slope.
Ford: A natural water level stream crossing; which can be improved (aggregate mix or concrete) to provide a level, low velocity surface for trail traffic.
Friction Pile: Post hammered into muck until friction prevents further penetration; foundation for puncheon or boardwalk.
Friendly Taking: This means that the person whose land is being "taken" by eminent domain or action in condemnation is basically supportive of the action.
Friends of the Trail: A private, non-profit organization formed to advocate and promote a trail. They can provide assistance, whether muscle power or political power, that augments management of a trail by a public agency.
Frostbite: The freezing of skin and the tissue beneath.
Gabion Baskets: Rectangular containers (usually made of heavy galvanized wire) that can be wired together, and then filled with stones to make quick retaining walls for erosion control.
Gaiters (Leggins, Puttees): Coverings that zip or snap around the ankles and lower legs to keep debris and water out of your boots.
Gate: Structure that can be swung, drawn, or lowered to block an entrance or passageway.
Genesis, Soil: The mode of origin of the soil, with special reference to the processes responsible for the development of the true soil from the unconsolidated parent material.
Geocaching: Involves hiding a cache (a stash of goods and a log book) in a remote location and recording its location using a GPS unit. The coordinates, along with a few helpful hints, are then posted on a website for other GPS-wielding geocachers to look up and then hunt for-a modern day treasure hunt.
Geographic Information System (GIS): A spatial database mapping system (computer and software) that contains location data for trails and other important features.
Geotextile (Geo-synthetic, Geofabric, Filter Fabric): A semi-impervious, nonwoven, petrochemical fabric cloth that provides a stable base for the application of soil or gravel. Most common use is in the construction of turnpikes.
Giardiasis: An intestinal illness (diarrhea, excessive gas, and abdominal cramping) caused by the protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia occurring in untreated backcountry water sources.
Glacier: A huge mass of ice, formed on land by the compaction and re-crystallization of snow, that moves very slowly down slope or outward due to its own weight.
Glade: An open space in a forest.
Glissade: To slide down a snow slope, either sitting or standing, using an ice-axe to control speed and direction.
Global Positioning System (GPS): A system used to map trail locations using satellites and portable receivers. Data gathered can be downloaded directly into GIS database systems.
Goal(s): Statement(s) of what a plan or action in a plan hopes to accomplish in the long term. Goals state the preferred situation, and usually are not quantifiable and may not have established time frames for achievement.
GORP: A high-carbohydrate snack food made primarily from nuts and dried fruit, an acronym for "good ol' raisins and peanuts."
Government: The administrative body that establishes and implements legislation, appropriates funds for projects, and oversees its responsibilities through numerous administrative agencies (federal, state, and local governments)
Grade: The amount of elevation change between two points over a given distance expressed as a percentage (feet change in elevation for every 100 horizontal feet, commonly known as "rise over run"). A trail that rises 8 vertical feet in 100 horizontal feet has an 8% grade. Grade is different than angle; angle is measured with a straight vertical as 90º and a straight horizontal as 0º. A grade of 100% would have an angle of 45º.
Grade, Maximum: The steepest grade permitted on any part of a trail.
Grade, Negative: Trail runs downhill.
Grade, Positive: Trail runs uphill.
Grade, Reverse: A short rise in the trail, which traverses a slope that forces any water on the trail to drain off to the side.
Grade, Sustained: The steepest grade permitted over the majority of the trail length.
Grade, Trail: The average grade over the length of a trail or long section of trail.
Grade, Tread: The grade of a specific short section of trail tread.
Grade-Separated Crossing: Overpasses or tunnels that allow trail users to cross a railroad right-of-way or street at a different level than trains or traffic.
Graffiti: Any writing, printing, marks, signs, symbols, figures, designs, inscriptions, or other drawings that are scratched, scrawled, painted, drawn, or otherwise placed on any surface of a building, wall, fence, trail tread, or other structure on trails or greenways and which have the effect of defacing the property.
Grassroots (Support): Efforts at the local level utilizing public interest groups and communities in support of trails or greenways.
Grate: A framework of latticed or parallel bars that prevents large objects from falling through a drainage inlet, while permitting water and some sediment to fall through the slots.
Gravel: Soil particles ranging from 1/5 to 3 inches in diameter.
Green: An open space available for unstructured recreation consisting of grassy areas and trees.
Green Infrastructure: An interconnected network of waterways, wetlands, woodlands, wildlife habitats, and other natural areas; greenways, parks and other conservation lands; working farms, ranches and forests; and wilderness and other open spaces that support native species, maintain natural ecological processes, sustain air and water resources and contribute to the health and quality of life for communities and people.
Greenbelt: A series of connected open spaces that may follow natural features such as ravines, creeks, or streams. May surround cities and serve to conserve and direct urban and suburban growth.
Greenspace: Natural areas, open spaces, trails, and greenways that function for both wildlife and people.
Greenway: A linear open space established along a natural corridor, such as a river, stream, ridgeline, rail-trail, canal, or other route for conservation, recreation, or alternative transportation purposes. Greenways can connect parks, nature preserves, cultural facilities, and historic sites with business and residential areas.
Greenway, Community: Safe, off-road corridor of open space that connects neighborhoods, schools, parks, work places, and community centers via paths and trails.
Greenway, Conservation: Open space corridor that protects biodiversity and water resources by connecting natural features such as streams, wetlands, forests, and steep slopes.
Griphoist: A brand name for a manually operated hoist that pulls in a cable at one end and expels it from the other end; used to move rock or timber needed for trail structures.
Groundwater: Water that infiltrates through the ground surface and accumulates in underground water bodies in porous rock or gravels.
Groundwater Table (Water Table): The upper limit of the part of the soil or underlying rock material that is wholly saturated with water. In some places an upper, or perched, water table may be separated from a lower one by a dry zone.
Grub (Grubbing): To dig or clear roots and tree stumps near or on the ground surface of the trail tread.
Grub Hoe: A tool with a blade (various weights) set across the end of a long handle used in building and repairing trail tread and digging trenches.
Guidelines: Principles used to determine a course of action.
Habitat: A place that supports a plant or animal population because it supplies that organism's basic requirements of food, water, shelter, living space, and security.
Hammock: A cluster of trees, often hardwoods on higher ground.
Handrail: A long stream, road, or other feature that runs parallel to your course of travel. For example, once you follow a stream bank you can hold on to that "handrail" without constantly checking your compass bearing and position on the map. You will need to first find a "check point" on the map that will indicate when to turn away from the handrail.
Hantavirus: A respiratory disease that is carried in wild rodents such as deer mice. People become infected after breathing airborne particles of urine or saliva found in rodent-infested areas. The virus produces flu-like symptoms and takes one to five weeks to incubate. It is 60% fatal.
Hard Surface (Paved) Trail: A trail tread surfaced with asphalt, concrete, soil cement, or other hard, stabilized material.
Hardening: The manual, mechanical, or chemical compaction of the trail tread resulting in a hard and flat surface that sheets water effectively and resists the indentations that are created by use.
Hardening Block (Turf Support Block, Turf Stone, Grass Grid, Tri-Lock Block): All can be used for hardening of the trail tread, but each has unique characteristics, which lend themselves to different applications.
Hardhat: A hard shell worn on the head as protection during trail work.
Hardpan: A layer of rock or compacted clay layer of soil that forms a durable and generally erosion-free trail surface.
Hazard Tree (Danger Tree, Widow Maker): Tree or limb that is either dead, or has some structural fault, that is hanging over, or leaning towards the trail or sites where people congregate.
Header, Stone or Rock: A long, uniform stone laid with its narrow end towards the face of a retaining wall or crib used intermittently to structurally tie in the other rocks laid in the wall.
Headwall: Support structure at the entrance to a culvert or drainage structure.
Headwaters: The area in the upper reaches of a watershed typified by unconfined surface water flows. Headwaters can coalesce to form rivulets or first order streams with distinct channels. Headwaters can often be ephemeral (wet only part of the year).
Heat Exhaustion: The body's reaction to overheating, which includes salt-deficiency and dehydration.
Heatstroke: A severe illness in which the body's temperature rises way above normal; also called sunstroke.
Height: Measure of the vertical dimension of a feature. May also be the depth of a rut or dip.
Helical Pier: Steel post with auger-shaped bit-end that is screwed into wet soils either by hand, or with the aid of specialized hydraulic tools to establish a foundation for puncheon or boardwalk.
Helmet: A hard-shell protective device worn on the head while riding OHVs, mountain bikes, horses, etc., or while in-line skating.
High Potential Site (or Segment): Historic sites or trail segments which afford high quality recreation or interpretation opportunities.
Highway: A general term denoting a public way for purposes of vehicular travel, including the entire area within the right-of-way.
Hiker-Biker Trail: An urban paved trail designed for use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Hiking Trail: Moderate to long distance trail with the primary function of providing long-distance walking experiences (usually two miles or more).
Hogback: A rounded ridge.
Hunt (Hunting) Camp: Areas set up to be used by seasonal hunters for camping. May also act as a trailhead.
Humus: The well-decomposed, more or less stable part of the organic matter in mineral soils.
Hydric Soil: Soil that is saturated or flooded during a sufficient portion of the growing season with anaerobic conditions in the upper soil layers.
Hydrology: The study of the occurrence, circulation, and distribution of waters of the earth. Local hydrologic regimes and processes need to be taken into account in trail and greenway planning. These processes include precipitation, interception, run-off, infiltration, percolation, storage, evaporation, and transpiration.
Hypothermia: Lowering of the body's core temperature to dangerous levels. Wet conditions, wind, and exhaustion can bring on hypothermia.
Impact Fee: A fee levied on the developer or builder of a project by a public agency as compensation for otherwise unmitigated impacts the project will produce. Impact fees can be designated to pay for publicly owned parks, open space, trails, or recreational facilities.
IMBA Rules of the Trail: International Mountain Bicycling Association's six rules of responsible mountain bicycling: Ride on Open Trails Only, Control Your Bicycle, Always Yield the Trail, Never Scare Animals, Leave No Trace, Plan Ahead.
Impacts (Effects): Encompasses all physical, ecological, and aesthetic effects resulting from the construction and use of trails (both negative and positive). Many studies have been concerned with environmental and social impacts of different users, such as tread wear, littering, conflicts between users, or vandalism.
Impermeable Material: A soil or material whose properties prevent movement of water.
Impervious Surface: Hard surfaces that do not allow absorption of water into the soil and that increase runoff. Examples of such surfaces include concrete or asphalt paved trails and parking areas.
In-Kind Contribution: Funds donated toward the match for a grant. Can include state, community agencies, or private sector dollar donations, value of donated labor or equipment, materials, etc.
Indemnify (Indemnification): To insure against or repay for loss, damage, etc.
Infill: The stone or soil material used to fill gaps in trail or wall construction/revetment work.
Infiltration: The portion of rainfall or surface runoff that moves downward into the subsurface rock and soil.
Infrastructure: The facilities, utilities and transportation systems (road or trail) needed to meet public and administrative needs.
Inslope (Insloping): Where the trail bed is sloped downward toward the backslope of the trail; causes water to run along the inside of the trail.
Install (Construct): To set in position for use; to build a bridge or structure.
Interdisciplinary Team: A group of resource professionals with different expertise that collaborate to develop and evaluate resource management decisions.
Intermodal: Connections between modes of transportation, such as automobile, transit, bicycle or walking.
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA): Federal legislation authorizing highway, highway safety, transit, and other surface transportation programs from 1991 through 1997. It provided new funding opportunities for sidewalks, shared use paths, and recreational trails. ISTEA was superseded by the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) in 1998.
Intermodalism: The use of multiple types of transportation to reach one destination; includes combining the use of trains and buses, automobiles, bicycles, and pedestrian transport on a given trip.
Interpretation: Communicating information about the natural and/or cultural resources and their associated stories and values found at a specific site or along a trail. Tours, signs, brochures, and other means can be used to interpret a particular resource.
Interpretive Display: An educational display usually in an interpretive center or at a trailhead that describes and explains a natural or cultural point of interest on or along the trail.
Interpretive Trail (Nature Trail): Short to moderate length trail (1/2 to 1 mile) with primary function of providing an opportunity to walk or paddle and study interesting or unusual plants or natural features at user's pleasure. The ideal nature trail has a story to tell. It unifies the various features or elements along the trail into a related theme.
Intersection (Junction): Area where two or more trails or roads join together.
Invasive Exotic: Non-native plant or animal species that invades an area and alters the natural mix of species.
Inventory, Trail: A comprehensive list of trails. Usually compiled by an agency or state.
Invitee: A person on the owner's land with the owner's permission, expressed or implied, for the owner's benefit, such as a paying customer. This is the highest level of landowner responsibility and therefore carries the highest level of liability.
Kiosk (Sign): A freestanding bulletin board consisting of three to five sides housing informational or interpretive displays.
Knob: Prominent rounded hill or mountain.
Lake: Large inland body of water.
Land: The total natural and cultural environment of the solid surface of the earth.
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): A federal matching assistance program that provides grants for 50 percent of the cost for the acquisition and/or development of outdoor recreation sites and facilities.
Land Ethic: The desire humans have to conserve, protect, and respect the native landscape and other natural resources because their own well being is dependent upon the proper functioning of the ecosystem.
Land Management Agency: Any governmental agency that manages public lands-many managed as recreation and/or wilderness areas. Examples include federal agencies such as the USDA Forest Service, the USDI National Park Service, and the USDI Bureau of Land Management, as well as state and local park system agencies.
Land Manager: Any person who makes decisions regarding land use.
Land, Private: Land owned by a farmer, corporation, or individual (private landowner).
Land, Public: Federal, state, or municipal land in trust for the governed populace (public landowner).
Land Trust: A private, nonprofit conservation organization formed to protect natural resources such as forestland, natural areas, and recreational areas. Land trusts purchase and accept donations of conservation easements.
Land Use: The way a section or parcel of land is used. Examples of land uses include industrial, agricultural, and residential.
Landscape: The sum total of the characteristics that distinguish a certain kind of area on the earth's surface and give it a distinguishing pattern in contrast to other kinds of areas. Any one kind of soil is said to have a characteristic natural landscape, and under different uses it has one or more characteristic cultural landscapes.
Landslide: Dislodged rock or earth that has slipped downhill under the influence of gravity and obstructs passage on a trail.
Leaching: The loss of soil minerals from upper layers of the soil to lower layers by water drainage.
Lease: The temporary grant of an interest in land upon payment of a determined fee. The fee does not have to be monetary, but some consideration must be given for the right to use the land, or the lease will not be legally binding.
Leave No Trace (LNT): Educational program designed to instill behaviors in the outdoors that leave minimum impact of human activities or occupation (www.LNT.org).
Legal Public Access: The right of passage, established by law, over another's property. Can be created by an easement dedicated or reserved for public access. Legal public access exists on public land, public waters, public rights-of-way, and public easements.
Legislation: Written and approved laws. Also known as "statutes" or "acts."
Leisure: The free or discretionary time available for people to use as they choose after meeting the biological and subsistence requirements of existence.
Length: Dimension of a feature measured parallel to the direction of travel.
Less-Than-Fee-Simple: Land acquisition technique that obtains only certain land use rights from the landowners, such as conservation easements, management agreements, or leases.
Liability (Liable): In law, a broad term including almost every type of duty, obligation, debt, responsibility, or hazard arising by way of contract, tort, or statute. To say a landowner or person is "liable" for an injury or wrongful act is to indicate that they are the person responsible for compensating for the injury or wrongful act.
License: Allows the licensed party to enter the land of the licensor without being deemed a trespasser.
Licensee: Person using a property for their benefit (i.e. hunting, hiking, etc.) with the implied or stated consent of the owner, but not for the benefit of the owner.
Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC): A planning framework that establishes explicit measures of the acceptable and appropriate resource and social conditions in recreation settings as well as the appropriate management strategies for maintaining or achieving those desired conditions.
Linkage(s): Connections that enable trails and greenway systems to function and multiply the utility of existing components by connecting them together like beads on a string.
Litter: The uppermost layer of decaying organic matter in any plant community, or carelessly discarded trash on the trail.
Load, Dead: The total physical weight of a bridge or structure, equal to the combined weight of all structural components.
Load, Design: The maximum weight a trail tread or structure can carry at any point along its length. Service and emergency vehicles need to be considered when determining the design load of trails and structures.
Load, Live: The active forces and weights that a bridge or structure is designed to support, including people, service vehicles, flood waters, floating debris contained within flood waters, wind, snow, and ice.
Loam: An easily crumbled soil consisting of a mixture of clay, silt, and sand.
Log, Trail: An inventory of physical features along or adjacent to a trail. An item-by-item, foot-by-foot record of trail features and facilities or improvements on a specific trail.
Logged Out Tree: Down tree across the trail with sections already removed to permit passage.
Loitering: Crime of lingering idly or prowling about on a trail or greenway, especially for the purpose of begging, dealing drugs, or soliciting for prostitution.
Loppers (Pruning Shears): A long-handled tool with two opposing blades (by-pass or anvil) used for cutting heavy vegetation (limbs of 1 to 13/4 inches in diameter).
Lyme Disease: An infection caused by a spiral-shaped bacterium called a spirochete carried by deer ticks. Symptoms associated with the early stages-fever, headache, stiffness, lethargy, and myriad other mild complaints-are often dismissed as the flu. If left untreated, Lyme disease can produce lifelong impairment of muscular and nervous systems. See a doctor immediately if you suspect you have the disease.
Machete: A large knife used to clear succulent vegetation.
Magic, Trail: The special things that happen and the generosity that trail users experience while on a trail trip.
Magnetic North: A spot in northern Canada, overlying the earth's magnetic North Pole, toward which the red needle of a compass points.
Maintainer: A volunteer who participates in the organized trail-maintenance program of a trail organization.
Maintenance: Work that is carried out to keep a trail in its originally constructed serviceable condition. Usually limited to minor repair or improvements that do not significantly change the trail location, width, surface, or structures.
Maintenance (Annual): Involves four tasks done annually or more often as needed: cleaning drainage, clearing blowdowns, brushing, and marking.
Management: Includes the over-all policy, planning, design, construction, and maintenance of outdoor recreation development, as well as the operational aspects of administration.
Manager: The person who has charge of a piece of land (i.e. a Park Manager).
Marsh: A mineral wetland that is permanently or seasonally inundated by standing or slow moving water. The waters are nutrient rich and the substrate is usually mineral soil. Marshes are characterized by communities of emergent rushes, grasses and reeds, and submerged or floating aquatic plants in areas of open water.
Massif: A group of mountains.
Master Plan: A comprehensive long-range plan intended to guide greenway and trail development of a community or region. Includes analysis, recommendation, and proposals of action.
Mattock: A sturdy two-bladed tool with an adz blade that can be used as a hoe for digging in hard ground. The other blade may be a pick (pick mattock) for breaking or prying small rock or a cutting edge (cutter mattock) for chopping roots.
Maximum Pitch: The highest percent of grade on a trail.
Maximum Sustained Pitch: The highest percent of grade on a trail that is sustained for a significant distance.
McLeod: A forest fire tool that looks like an over-sized hoe with tines on the opposite blade. In trail work it is used to remove slough and berm from a trail and to smooth the tread.
Meadow: Tract of grassland.
Measuring Wheel (Cyclometer): A device that records the revolutions of a wheel and hence the distance traveled by the wheel on a trail or land surface.
Mechanical Advantage: Multiplication of work force through the use of simple machines such as the lever, the inclined plane, the wheel, and the pulley.
Memorandum of Understanding/Agreement (MOU/MOA): A signed, written agreement entered into by various governmental agencies and nonprofit groups to facilitate the planning, coordination, development, and maintenance of a trail or trails system.
Mesa: Flat-topped elevation with one or more cliff-like sides.
Mineral Soil: The layers of the subsoil relatively free of organic matter.
Minor Field Adjustments: Deviations of the trail alignment made during the course of normal construction or maintenance as determined by the supervisor or crew leader, and not part of an original survey.
Mitigate (Mitigation): Actions undertaken to avoid, minimize, reduce, eliminate, or rectify the adverse impact from a management practice or the impact from trail users.
Mode: A particular form of travel, such as walking, bicycling, operating a vehicle, etc.
Monitor(ing): Check systematically or scrutinize for the purpose of collecting specific data along a trail in relation to a set of standards.
Moraine: A ridge or pile of boulders, stones, and other debris carried along and deposited by a glacier.
Motorized: Off-highway recreation using motorized vehicles (motorcycle, ATV, snowmobile, four-wheel drive, or other light utility vehicle) on trails.
Mountain Bike: Designed for trail riding and characterized by upright handlebars, heavy-duty brakes, wide tires, and low gearing. They are used for both recreational and competitive bicycling.
Mountaineering (Mountain Climbing, Alpinism): Climbing high mountains (for sport) where skill and gear to enable belaying, rappelling, glacier travel, and climbing over rock, snow, and ice are needed. The object is to reach summits and not simply to traverse trails and passes.
Mulch: Organic matter spread on newly constructed trail work to help stabilize soils and protect them from erosion.
Multimodal: Facilities serving more than one transportation mode, or a transportation network comprised of a variety of modes.
Multiple Use Area: A land management objective that seeks to coordinate several environmental, recreational, economic, historical, cultural and/or social values in the same geographic area in a compatible and sustainable manner.
Multiple-Use (Multi-Use, Diversified Use) Trail: A trail that permits more than one user group at a time (equestrian, OHVer, hiker, mountain bicyclist, etc.).
Multiple Use Trail Network: A series of trails that interconnect to form a system that, as a whole, allows for more than one use. The individual trails may be single use or multiple use.
Name, Trail: A chosen or given nickname a trail user adopts while on an extended trail trip to identify themselves when making register entries, often based on personality, lifestyle, or traveling style.
National Conservation Area: Similar to National Monument status; applies solely to BLM lands. Granted only by Congress. Individual site determines allowable recreational activities.
National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Established by Congress in 1969, NEPA requires public involvement and assessment of the biological and cultural resources in the location of any ground-disturbing activity on federal land.
National Forest or Grassland: Allows logging, mining, and oil and gas drilling, as well as mountain biking, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and OHV use.
National Historic Trail: Federally designated extended trails, which closely follow original routes of nationally significant travel (explorers, emigrants, traders, military, etc.). The Iditarod, the Lewis and Clark, the Mormon Pioneer, and the Oregon trails were the first to be designated as National Historic Trails in 1978.
National Monument: Area of unique ecological, geological, historic, prehistoric, cultural, or scientific interest. Traditionally used for historic structures or landmarks on government land; more recently used to grant national park-like status to tracts of western land. Designated by Congress or the president. Individual site determines allowable recreational activities.
National Park: Designated primarily to protect resources and recreation opportunities. Some allow grazing, but do not allow hunting, mining, or other extractive uses.
National Preserve: Often linked with a national park. Allows mineral and fuel extraction, hunting, and trapping.
National Recreation Area: Federal areas that have outstanding combinations of outdoor recreation opportunities, aesthetic attractions, and proximity to potential users. They may also have cultural, historical, archaeological, pastoral, wilderness, scientific, wildlife, and other values contributing to public enjoyment. Designated by Congress. Individual location determines allowable recreational activities.
National Recreation Trail: Existing local trails (over 800) recognized by the federal government as contributing to the National Trails System.
National Resource Land: Managed for grazing and extraction by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM); often unnamed. Allows all recreational activities.
National Scenic Area: Area that contains outstanding scenic characteristics, recreational values, and geological, ecological, and cultural resources.
National Scenic Trail: Federally designated extended trails, which provide for the maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of the significant qualities of the areas through which they pass. The Appalachian and the Pacific Crest trails were the first to be designated as National Scenic Trails in 1968.
National Seashore: Coastal equivalent of a national park. Some allow hunting.
National Trails System: A network of trails (National Scenic, Historic, or Recreation) throughout the country authorized by the 1968 National Trails System Act (16 U.S.C. 1241-51).
National Wildlife Refuge: Preserves wildlife habitat. Allows hunting and fishing; some allow overnight camping.
Native Species: An indigenous species (a basic unit of taxonomy) that is normally found as part of a particular ecosystem; a species that was present in a particular area at the time of the Public Land Survey (1847-1907).
Natural Resource(s): For outdoor recreation include areas of land, bodies of water, forests, swamps, and other natural features which are in demand for outdoor recreation or are likely to become so.
Natural Surface (Trail): A tread made from clearing and grading the native soil, and with no added surfacing materials.
Nonmotorized: Trail recreation by modes such as bicycle, pedestrian, equestrian, skate, ski, etc.
Non-Point Pollution: Contaminants that are released into the environment from dispersed sources such as pesticides from farm fields as opposed to localized sources such as pipes.
Notice of Interim Use (NITU): A document issued by the STB in Notice of Exemption for rail line abandonments (lines out of service for two or more years). It has the same effect as a CITU.
Noxious Weeds: Plant species designated by Federal or State law as generally possessing one or more of the following characteristics: aggressive and difficult to manage; parasitic; a carrier or host of serious insects or disease; or nonnative, new, or not common to the United States.
Nylon Strap: Heavy duty woven strap of wide nylon with eyes sewn in both ends. May be set basket style or choker style. Used mainly as anchor ties for a Griphoist or block attached to live trees, as their wider load-bearing surface does less bark damage and eliminates the need for the use of shims.
Objective(s): Specific action(s) within a plan that if attained, will assure progress in the direction of established goals.
Obligate: The way project sponsors spend money, typically by putting their project under contract for construction. Grant programs often require project sponsors to obligate funds in a timely manner or lose the funds.
Obstacles: Physical objects large enough to significantly impede or slow travel on a trail. Logs, large rocks, and rock ledges are common obstacles.
Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV): Any motorized vehicle used for travel in areas normally considered inaccessible to conventional highway vehicles. OHVs generally include dirt motorcycles, dune buggies, jeeps, 4-wheel drive vehicles, snowmobiles, and ATVs.
Old Growth: Forests that have never been logged or have not been logged for many decades; characterized by a large percentage of mature trees.
Open: Designated areas or trails where specified trail uses are permanently or temporarily permitted.
Open and Flowing: A type of trail design that allows for sweeping turns, higher speeds, and better sight lines.
Open Space: Areas of natural quality, either publicly or privately owned, designated for protection of natural resources, nature-oriented outdoor recreation, or trail-related activities.
Open Space, Common: Territory that is jointly used by a group of people. It is not public, because those who do not hold it common can be excluded. It is not private either, because it has to be shared with others. In many suburban subdivisions, houses cluster around open spaces that would otherwise be divided into front or side yards.
Open Space, Private: Space that is privately owned and not open to the public.
Open Space, Public: Territory that is owned and managed by a public agency for everybody's benefit.
Operating and Maintenance Costs (O&M): Funds for day-to-day costs of operating and maintaining a trail or greenway. Costs include worker's salaries, equipment upkeep, etc.
Optimum Location Review (OLR): A review of the optimum trail location when acquiring property rights (purchase, lease, easement, right-of-way). Factors considered include terrain, connections to the rest of the trail, property ownership, ability to acquire the lands, etc. In short, all of the environmental, social, and economic impacts, which would lead to selecting the optimum lands for location of a trail, are considered.
Option: The right to purchase or lease a property at a certain price where the price is guaranteed for a certain designated period.
Organic Soil: Soil that is made up of leaves, needles, plants, roots, bark, and other organic material in various stages of decay, and has a large water/mass absorption ratio.
Out-and-Back Trail: A one way trail on which you travel to a destination then backtrack to the trailhead.
Outcrop: A rock formation that protrudes through the level of the surrounding soil.
Outdoor Recreation: Leisure activities involving the enjoyment and use of natural resources primarily outdoors.
Outdoor Recreation Access Route (ORAR): A continuous unobstructed path designated for pedestrian use that connects accessible elements within a picnic area, campground, or designated trailhead.
Outflow (Outwash): The off-treadway ditch portion of a drainage structure, intended to remove all water from the trail.
Outrun (Run-out): That section of a trail, usually at or near the base of a descent, which provides adequate length and grade reduction in order for the user to safely stop or negotiate turns, intersections, or structures. Outruns are usually associated with ski touring.
Outslope (Outsloping): A method of tread grading that leaves the outside edge of a hillside trail lower than the inside to shed water. The outslope should be barely noticeable-usually no more than about one inch of outslope for every 18 inches of tread width.
Ownership-In-Fee (Fee Purchase, Fee Simple): A complete transfer of land ownership from one landowner to another party, usually by purchase.
Panniers (Saddlebags, Kyacks, Panyards, Alforjas, ): Pair of containers carried on either side of a pack animal, bicycle, or motorcycle to carry supplies and equipment.
Parallel Ditching: A lateral drainage ditch constructed adjacent to the trail tread to catch surface water sheeting from the tread surface and divert it away from the trail. Generally this drainage system is utilized in low flat areas or areas where multiple entrenched trails have developed.
Parcourse (Vita course): A series of exercise stations located along a fitness trail. Each station is designed to exercise a different set of muscles.
Park: Any area that is predominately open space with natural vegetation and landscaping used principally for active or passive recreation.
Park, Linear: A linear open space established along a natural corridor, such as a river, stream, ridgeline, rail-trail, canal, or other route for passive recreation, education, and scenic purposes.
Parkway: A broad roadway bordered with (and often divided by) plantings of trees, shrubs, and grass.
Partner: One of two or more parties working jointly toward shared goals.
Partnership(s): Arrangement(s) between two or more parties who have agreed to work cooperatively toward shared and/or compatible objectives and in which there is: shared authority and responsibility (for the delivery of programs and services, in carrying out a given action, or in policy development); joint investment of resources (time, work, funding, material, expertise, information); shared liability or risk-taking; and ideally, mutual benefits.
Pass: Narrow low spot between mountain peaks; lowest point along a mountain crest. Pass is generally used in the West, while "gap" is used in the South, and "notch" in New England.
Path (Pathway): This is a temporary or permanent area that is normally dirt or gravel, although some paths are asphalt or concrete. A path typically indicates the common route taken by pedestrians between two locations.
Pathfinder: One that discovers a way; explores untraveled regions to mark a new route. Someone who promotes a new process or procedure.
Paved Dip: A swale crossing paved with stones to enable water to run across a trail without erosion.
Pavement: That part of a trail having a constructed hard paved surface for the facilitation of wheeled trail traffic.
Peak: The pointed summit of a mountain.
Peak-Bagging: Reaching the tops of as many peaks as possible and keeping a record of the accomplishment.
Peat: Partially carbonized organic matter, usually mosses, found in bogs and used as fertilizer or fuel.
Pedestrian: Any person traveling by foot, or any mobility-impaired person using a wheelchair, whether manually operated or motorized.
Peripatetic: Walking about; moving from place to place.
Permit (System): Use-authorization forms issues by agencies to control the amount of use along trails or in wilderness areas. Permits may be obtained from the agency office, by mail, over the phone, or in person, or they may be self-issued; self-issued permits are usually obtained at the trailhead or immediately outside agency offices. They can be used to increase visitor knowledge about regulations, recommended low-impact behaviors, and potential hazards.
Pick (Pick-ax, Pick-axe): A tool with a 36-inch handle and a head that has a point at one end and a chisel-like edge at the other. Used to loosen soil or rock.
Picnic Area: Day-use area with one or more picnic tables where meals can be eaten outdoors.
Pier: Intermediate bridge supports located between two adjacent bridge spans.
Pile (Piling): A long, heavy timber, pipe, or section of concrete or metal to be driven or jetted into the earth or streambed to serve as a support for a bridge.
Pitch: An increase in the prevailing grade of a trail, used during construction to avoid an obstacle, to catch up with the intended grade, or to meet a control point.
Pitch: A section of ice or rock that is difficult to climb, may be from 10 to 120 feet in height.
Piton: A spike (driven into rock) to which ropes are attached during climbing or rigging.
Plan: Document that shows the steps needed to develop a trail or greenway.
Plan Amendment: The process of considering or making changes in the terms, conditions, and decision of approved plans. Usually only one or two issues are considered that involve only a portion of the planning areas.
Plan, Implementation: A site-specific plan written to implement decisions made in a land use plan. An implementation plan usually selects and applies BMPs to meet land use plan objectives.
Plan(ning), Land-Use: The development of plans for the uses of land that, over long periods, will best serve the general welfare, together with the formulation of ways and means for achieving such uses.
Plan, Resource Management: A planning document that presents systematic guidelines for making resource management decisions for a planning area.
Plan, Strategic: A systematic approach that helps to select and organize tasks in a logical sequence, bearing in mind the constraints and opportunities.
Plan and Profile Sheets: Drawings (usually prepared for trail construction) used to record horizontal and vertical geometry of a trail alignment as well as other required improvements to the trail corridor.
Planimetric map: A map that shows features such as roads, trails, and mountains, but does not show contour lines of elevation changes.
Planning: To devise a scheme for developing or constructing a trail or greenway.
Point(s) of Interest: Ecological, historic, cultural, and recreational features or sites that may contribute to the quality of a trail user's experience.
Pole Saw (Tree Pruner): A pruning saw with a telescoping handle to trim branches that would otherwise be out of arm's reach. Some models have built-in loppers that can be operated from the ground with a rope.
Policy: Specific guidance or means to achieve a goal.
Pond: Still body of water smaller than a lake.
Portage: A situation that exists when a paddler must temporarily leave a river or stream to carry the boat and gear around hazards such as dams, downed trees, or dangerous whitewater.
Potable (Water): Safe to drink from the source without treating.
Pre-field: Performing a physical examination of the project work site in order to evaluate solutions to trail deficiencies, select the appropriate course of action, formulate the design and quantify the material, equipment, and person hour requirements.
Prescribed Burns: Formerly called "controlled burns," these are periodic, intentional fires used to clear underbrush in an effort to control "wildfires," open areas to wildlife, and promote germination of some species of flora.
Preservation: Maintaining an area or structure intact or unchanged.
Primary Trails: Continuous through routes that originate at trailheads. Primarily for directing users through an area while promoting a certain type of experience.
Prism: The trail cross-section as a whole.
Pruning: The removal of normal vegetative growth that intrudes beyond the defined trail clearing limits.
Public Use Condition (PUC): A condition attached to an STB-approved rail line abandonment authorization prohibiting the railroad from disposing of rail assets for a period of up to 180 days after such authorization unless the properties have first been offered, on reasonable terms, for sale for public purposes.
Puddle: A small pool of water usually a few inches deep and from several inches to several feet across.
Pulaski: During the early 1900s US Forest Service Ranger Edward Pulaski of Idaho needed a good tool for grubbing and chopping fire lines, so he welded the blade of a pick to the back of an ax head and created what has come to be known as the "Pulaski." The modern Pulaski combines an axe bit with an adz-shaped grub hoe and is a very popular tool among trail builders.
Puncheon (Bog Bridge): A log or timber structure built on the ground for the purpose of crossing a boggy area. Usually consists of sills, stringers, decking, and often a soil or loose gravel tread laid on top of the decking.
Put-in/Take-out Point: A defined area which provides public access/egress to water trails.
Quadrangle: A tract of land represented by one US Geological Survey map sheet.
Quality-of-Life: Term used to embrace many facets of life and community (culture, density, climate, etc.). Recreation, park, open space, and trail opportunities play an important role in a community's quality-of-life.
Quiet Title: An action brought in state court to establish legal rights to property.
Quitclaim Deed: Document that transfers ownership of real estate, but contains no guarantees that the seller has a valid right to do so, or that others do not have rights to the land.
Rabies: An infectious disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mammal. Symptoms appear anywhere from three weeks to a year after being bit and include headache and fever, cough and sore throat, loss of appetite and fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Once symptoms appear, it is too late for treatment. If bitten by a rabid mammal get to a doctor immediately.
Radiant Heat Loss: Is when heat radiates out from your body into your clothes. Vapor barriers reflect the heat back to your body.
Radius: An arc or curve that connects two straight trail segments in order to provide smooth horizontal and vertical alignment.
Rail Corridor: The path of a railroad right-of-way, including the tracks and a specified tract of land on either side of the tracks (generally one hundred feet wide).
Rail-Trail (Rail-to-Trail): A multi-purpose public path (paved or natural) created along an inactive rail corridor.
Rail-with-Trail: Any shared-use path that is located on or directly adjacent to an active railroad or fixed route transit corridor.
Railbank(ing): Retaining a rail corridor for future railroad uses after service has been discontinued. The National Trails System Act, Sec. 8d, provides for interim public use of the corridor, allowing the establishment of recreational trails.
Railing (Handrail): Horizontal or diagonal structural member which is attached to vertical posts for the purpose of delineating trails, protecting vegetation, providing safety barriers for trail users at overlooks, and assisting users when crossing bridges or using steps.
Rain: Water falling to earth in drops that have been condensed from moisture in the atmosphere.
Rappel (Roping Down): Self-belaying down a length of rope to get down from a steep climb.
Ravine: Deep, narrow gouge in the earth's surface, usually eroded by the flow of water.
Read(ing): To study the terrain and obstacles to determine a course or possible locations for a trail through the area.
Real Property: Real estate; land and anything growing on it or attached to it, such as trees, fences, and buildings.
Rebar: Steel reinforcing rod that comes in a variety of diameters, useful for manufacturing pins or other trail anchors.
Reconnaissance (Recon): Scouting out alternative trail locations prior to the final trail route location being selected.
Reconstruct (Reconstruction, Renovate): To replace or rebuild a trail structure (switchback, waterbar, bridge, etc.) that is no longer safe to use.
Record of Decision (ROD): Also called a decision memo. The portion of a Final Environmental Impact Statement that identifies the proposed action, signed by the appropriate deciding officer.
Recreation: The refreshment of body and mind through forms of play, amusement, or relaxation; usually considered any type of conscious enjoyment that occurs during leisure time.
Recreation, Passive Outdoor: Recreational uses conducted almost wholly outdoors that generally do not require a developed site, including hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and birdwatching.
Recreation Opportunity Spectrum (ROS): A means of classifying and managing recreational opportunities based on physical, social, and managerial settings.
Recreational Stock: Pack and saddle stock used primarily for transporting recreationists and their gear. Both commercial pack stock and individual stock are included. Usually horses and mules, but also llamas or goats.
Recreational Trails Program (RTP): First established in 1991 and then reauthorized as part of TEA-21, RTP returns a portion of federal gasoline taxes, generated by non-highway recreation, to the states, which in turn provide grants for trail-related purposes to private organizations, state and federal agencies, and municipalities (www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/rectrail.htm).
Recreational Use Statue (RUS): State law (in all 50 states) designed to limit the liability of public organizations, easement donors, landowners, and others who open their lands for public recreation use without charge.
Register, Trail: Along long-distance trails you may find "trail registers" at overnight stops that allow users the chance to make comments to those behind them, and read comments from those ahead. Registers can be an important safety measure to pinpoint the location of trail users.
Registration, Trail: A voluntary survey form filled out and left at a trailhead drop box or office that allows managers to obtain use characteristics.
Rehabilitation (Rehab): All work to bring an existing trail up to its classification standard, including necessary relocation of minor portions of the trail.
Relocation (Relo, Realignment, Reroute): To alter the path of an existing trail to better follow land contours, avoid drainage sites, bypass environmentally sensitive areas, improve views, or for other landowner or management reasons.
Remove: To move from a position occupied; to take away.
Request for Proposals (RFP): Allows a number of consultants to bid on a project by outlining their plans and associated costs. A detailed RFP will help weed out unqualified consultants.
Reserve(s): Large protected areas that serve as primary sites for the conservation of biological diversity, natural resources, and in some cases for important archaeological and historic sites.
Rest Step: An uphill hiking technique where with each step, the rearmost leg is locked completely straight for the time that it takes to transfer weight to the leg that has just been moved forward. While the leg is locked in this fashion, the muscles are given a very short moment of complete rest.
Restoration: The process of repairing or returning damaged areas back to their original state.
Restore: To bring back to a former, normal, or productive condition by repairing or rebuilding.
Restroom (Comfort Station, Pit Privy, Vault Toilet, Composting Toilet, Chemical Toilet, Port-a-John, Latrine): Facility for human waste disposal that may or may not meet public health standards.
Retaining Wall (Revetment, Cribwall, Cribbing): Structure used at a grade change to hold the soil on the up-hill side from slumping, sliding, or falling; usually made of log or stone. Also used to provide stability and strength to the edge of a trail.
Retaining Wall, Sutter: A patented prefabricated component retaining wall using rebar, "H" posts, and 2-inch lumber. For information call Sutter Equipment at 415-898-5955.
Revegetation: Process of restoring a denuded and/or eroded area close to its original condition.
Reversionary Interest (Reversion): The right of a property owner to the future enjoyment of property presently in the possession or occupancy of another. For example, a railroad company could acquire a right-of-way easement that states upon cessation of use as a rail line that the property would revert to the original owner or heirs.
Rhizome: A below ground stem capable of growing a new plant.
Ridge: A hill that is proportionally longer than it is wide, generally with steeply sloping sides.
Ridgeline: A line connecting the highest points along a ridge and separating drainage basins or small-scale drainage systems from one another.
Rigging, Cable: Cable works and hoists used to lift and move large, heavy rocks or logs.
Right-of-First Refusal: A property interest in which the holder of the right has first option to purchase the property at the price of a bona fide offer made to the property owner by a third party. If not exercised within a set time period after the offer is made, it expires, and the owner is free to sell to the offeror.
Right-of-Way: A strip of land held in fee simple title, or an easement over another's land, for use as a public utility for a public purpose. Usually includes a designated amount of land on either side of a trail that serves as a buffer for adjacent land uses.
Right of Way: The right of one trail user or vehicle to proceed in a lawful manner in preference to another trail user or vehicle.
Rill: A steep-sided small channel resulting from accelerated erosion; the most common form of erosion.
Riparian: A habitat that is strongly influenced by water and that occurs adjacent to streams, shorelines, and wetlands.
Riparian Vegetation: Plant species growing adjacent to freshwater courses, including perennial and intermittent streams, lakes, and other bodies of fresh water.
Riparian Zone: The land and vegetation immediately adjacent to a body of water, such as a river, lake, or other natural perpetual watercourse.
Riprap: A layer of stones placed randomly on a bank to provide support and prevent erosion; also the stone so used.
River: A large natural stream of water.
Road-to-Trail Conversion: Involves narrowing an old logging road to provide a meandering trail with a solid trail tread for users.
Rock: Soil particles greater than 3 inches in diameter.
Rock, Igneous: Rock produced through the cooling of melted mineral matter. When the cooling process is slow, the rock contains fair-sized crystals of the individual minerals, as in granite.
Rock, Metamorphic: A rock that has been greatly altered from its previous condition through the combined action of heat and pressure. For example, marble is a metamorphic rock produced from limestone, gneiss is one produced from granite, and slate is produced from shale.
Rock, Sedimentary: A rock composed of particles deposited from suspension in water. Chief groups of sedimentary rocks are: conglomerates (from gravels); sandstones (from sand); shales (from clay); and limestones (from soft masses of calcium carbonate).
Rock Bar (Pry Bar): A four-foot bar of steel weighing 16 to 18 pounds with a beveled end used to move rocks.
Root: The part of a plant/tree, usually underground, that anchors the plant/tree. Can be a hazard to trail users when they protrude through the tread surface.
Root Ball (Root Wad): Earth and soil that is lifted up when a tree and its roots fall over.
Rubble: Rough, irregular fragments of broken rock or concrete.
Run (Running) Plank: Usually wood planks laid lengthwise on top of bridge decking used as the tread surface.
Runoff: Water (not absorbed by the soil) that flows over the land surface.
Rut: Sunken groove in the tread, perpendicular to the direction of travel, and less than two feet in depth.
Saddle: Ridge between two peaks.
Safety Harness: A body belt or strap, usually made of nylon, for use while working near steep drop-offs. Must be of approved construction and design, and in good repair, and attached to a secure anchor point with carabiners and approved climbing rope.
Sand: Soil particles ranging from 0.5 to 2.0 mm in diameter; individual particles are visible to the unaided human eye. Usually sand grains consist chiefly of quartz, but they may be of any mineral composition.
Saw: Cutting tool that comes in a variety of styles used for cutting limbs, branches, trees, or lumber.
Scenic View (Vista): A long-distance view that is pleasant and interesting.
Scenic Viewpoint: A designated area developed at a key location to afford trail users an opportunity to view significant landforms, landscape features, wildlife habitat, and activities.
Scoping: The procedures by which a federal agency determines the extent of (NEPA) analysis necessary for a proposed action.
Scour (Scouring): Soil erosion through the force of moving water.
Screamer: A long fall.
Scree: Gravel-size loose rock debris, especially on a steep slope or at the base of a cliff, formed as a result of disintegration largely by weathering.
Secondary Trails: Short trails used to connect primary trails or branchings of primary trails. They encourage movement between two primary trails or facilitate dispersal of use through secondary branching.
Section 8(d): Common reference to U.S.C. 1247(d), the section of the National Trails System Act which provides for interim trail use when a surplus railroad line is placed in the federal railbank.
Sediment: Soil particles that have been transported away from their natural location by wind or water action.
Sediment Deposition: The accumulation of soil particles on the trail tread and banks.
Sedimentation: Deposition of material carried in water; usually the result of a reduction in water velocity below the point at which it can transport the material.
Seep (Seepage): An area where water slowly passes out of the ground to the surface; groundwater emerging on the trail tread or bank.
Segment (Passage): A portion of a trail. Changes in geographic features, jurisdiction and/or political boundaries often distinguish segments (passages).
Shank: A metal or nylon plate installed in the instep of a shoe or boot to provide support.
Shared Use: A process where land managers and trail user groups work together to identify common goals and share in the process to achieve them. It means sharing of knowledge, tools, trailheads, grant funds, labor, and other resources in an area. In some instances it means sharing the same trail, but doesn't always require multiple-use trails.
Shear: Force parallel to a surface as opposed to directly on the surface. An example of shear would be the tractive force that removes particles from a trail as flow moves over the surface of the slope.
Sheath: Protective covering made of leather or plastic used to cover sharp blades of tools while in storage or when the tools are transported.
Sheetwash: The widespread removal of surface debris by the steady and continuous flow of water on low gradient slopes. Generally at slow speeds and over long periods.
Shelter (Adirondack, Lean-To, Stone, Log): Open front structure that includes a sleeping platform and roof; popular as an overnight facility on long-distance trails, especially in the East.
Shim(s): A thin wedge of wood or metal used to fill a space. Also used as a verb: to shim.
Shoulder: Usually paved portion of a highway, which is contiguous to the travel lanes, allowing motor vehicle use in emergencies. They can also be for specialized use by pedestrians and bicyclists.
Shovel: A tool with a broad scoop and a long handle for lifting and moving loose material.
Shrub: A woody plant that usually remains low and produces shoots or trunks from the base; it is not usually tree-like or single stemmed.
Shuttle: Leaving a vehicle at both ends of a point-to-point trip or pre-arranging a shuttle to pick you up at the end of the trip or to drop you off at the beginning.
Shy Distance: The distance between the trails edge and any fixed object capable of injuring someone using the trail.
Side Trails: Dead-end trails that access features near the main trail.
Sidehill: Where the trail angles across the face of a slope. The tread is often cut into the slope.
Sidehilling: Process of excavating or cutting a bench across the slope.
Sideslope: The natural slope of the ground measured at right angles to the centerline of the trail, or the adjacent slope, which is created after excavating a sloping ground surface for a trailway, often termed a cut-and-fill-slope, left and right of the trail tread.
Sidewalk: A paved strip (typically concrete four feet in width) which runs parallel to vehicular traffic and is separated from the road surface by at least a curb and gutter. Sidewalks are common in urban areas and in some suburban residential areas.
Sight Distance: The visible and unobstructed forward and rear view seen by a trail user from a given point along the trail.
Sign (Signage): A board, post, or placard that displays written, symbolic, tactile, or pictorial information about the trail or surrounding area. Signage increases safety and comfort on trails. There are five basic types of signs: Cautionary, Directional, Interpretive, Objective, and Regulatory.
Sign, Cautionary: Warns of upcoming roadway crossings, steep grades, blind curves, and other potential trail hazards.
Sign, Directional: Gives street names, trail names, direction arrows, mileage to points of interest, and other navigational information.
Sign, Interpretive: Offers educational information that describes and explains a natural or cultural point of interest on or along the trail.
Sign, Objective: Provides information about the actual trail conditions, including grade, cross slope, surface, clear trail width, and obstacle height. This allows users to make more informed decisions about which trails best meet their trail needs and abilities.
Sign, Regulatory: Tells the "rules of the trail" by prohibiting certain uses or controlling direction of travel.
Significant: As used in NEPA, requires consideration of both context and intensity. Context means that the significance of an action must be analyzed in several contexts such as society as a whole, and the affected region, interests, and locality. Intensity refers to the severity of impacts.
Sill: A crosswise member at the top of an abutment or pier that supports the stringers, beams, or trusses of a bridge or boardwalk.
Silt: Noncohesive soil whose individual mineral particles are not visible to the unaided human eye (0.002 to 0.05 mm). Silt will crumble when rolled into a ball.
Silt Fence: Temporary sediment barrier consisting of filter fabric, sometimes backed with wire mesh, attached to supporting posts and partially buried.
Single-Jack Hammer: A short handled hammer with a 3- to 4-pound head. Can be used alone to drive timber spikes, or with a star drill to punch holes in rock.
Single-Track Trail: A trail only wide enough for one user to travel. Requires one user to yield the trail to allow another user to pass.
Single-Use Trail: One that is designed and constructed for only one intended use (i.e. hiking only).
Sinkhole: A natural occurrence when the limestone crust of the earth collapses and creates a crater. Old sinkholes are often filled with water and resemble ponds.
Sinks: A term given to areas where underground rivers emerge at the ground surface. Areas surrounding sinks are generally lush with vegetation.
Skew Angle: Less than at a right angle to a trail. Usually an oblique angle of 45 degrees or less.
Skiing, Cross-country, (Nordic): In simplest terms - skiing across the countryside.
Skirt: To construct a trail around a mountain, often at an even grade, instead of climbing over the mountain.
Skyline: Rigging system with a highline by which a load is moved via a pulley, pulled by a separate rope.
Slackline: Rigging system with a highline, which is lowered to pick up a load, then tightened to move the load.
Slackpack (Slackpacking, Slackpacker, Barebacking, Barebacker): Hiking a section of a long distance trail without a backpack by either leaving it in a safe place or having someone shuttle it up the trail for you.
Slalom: Zigzag descent on skis or mountain bike.
Sledgehammer: A long handled heavy hammer with a 6- to 8-pound head, usually held with both hands.
Slide: Material that has slid onto the trail tread from the backslope-possibly in quantities sufficient to block the trail.
Slip: The downslope movement of a mass of soil under wet or saturated conditions; a micro-landslide that produces microrelief in soils.
Slope: Rising or falling natural (or created) incline of the ground. The term is generally used to refer to the hill and not the trail.
Slope, Cross: The slope that is perpendicular to the direction of the trail.
Slope, Cut: The exposed ground surface resulting from the excavation of material on the natural terrain.
Slope, Fill: The exposed ground surface resulting from the placement of excavated material on the natural terrain.
Slope, Running: The slope that is in the same direction as the trail.
Slope, Percent: Number of feet rise (vertical) divided by feet of run (horizontal) times 100 to get percent slope; example: 15-feet of rise over 100-feet of run is a 15% slope.
Slough (pronounced "Sloo"): Ingress, egress, or backflow from a creek or river. Usually areas full of soft, deep mud.
Slough (pronounced "Sluff"): Material from the backslope that has been deposited on the trail bed and is higher than the center of the trail tread.
Slump (Slumping): When the trail bed material has moved downward causing a dip in the trail grade.
Snowmobile: A motorized vehicle that operates on skis, pontoons, tracks, rollers, wheels, air cushion, or any other device which is designed for travel in, on, or over snow.
Social Trail (Wildcat, Way, Informal): Unplanned/unauthorized trails that develop informally from use and are not designated or maintained by an agency; often found cutting switchbacks or between adjacent trails.
Sod: Plugs, squares, or strips of turf with the adhering soil.
Soft Surface Trail: An unsurfaced natural trail or a trail surfaced with compacted earth, crusher fines, bark, or gravel.
Soil(s): The surface material (mineral materials, organic matter, water, and air) of the continents, produced by disintegration of rocks, plants, and animals and the biological action of bacteria, earthworms, and other decomposers. The four fundamental groups of soils are: gravels, sands, loams, and clays.
Soil Auger: T-shaped tool with a spiral tip for turning into soil to probe its content.
Soil Cement (cement-treated base): A mixture of pulverized soil combined with measured amounts of portland cement and water and compacted to a high density. As the cementing action occurs through hydration, a hard, durable semi-rigid material is formed. It must have a seal coat to keep out moisture and a surface that will withstand wear.
Soil Map: A map showing the kinds of soil types and their boundaries in all the detail significant to soil use and management.
Soil Profile: Site-specific arrangement of soil layers from surface to bedrock.
Soil Stabilization: Measures that protect soil from the erosive forces of raindrop impact and flowing water. They include, but are not limited to, vegetative establishment, mulching, and the application of soil stabilizers to the trail tread.
Soil Stabilizer: Material, either natural or manufactured, used to hold soil in place and prevent erosion due to water, gravity, or trail users. Stabilizers include soil cement, geogrid, etc.
Spall: Stone chip or fragment; to break up into chips or fragments.
Special Project Specifications: Specifications that detail the conditions and requirements peculiar to an individual trail project, including additions and revisions to the standard specifications.
Specifications: Written standards of work and type of materials to which trails (tread, clearing, grade) and trail structures (bridge, culvert, puncheon) are built and maintained according to type of use.
Spelunking: Entering caves or caverns for the purpose of recreation or exploration.
Spike (Camp): To campout while working on a trail.
Spine Trail: A regional trail that acts as a "backbone" to a regional trail system.
Sponsor: Organization or government agency which will sign agreements and contracts and be responsible for a trail or greenway project.
Sprawl: Low-density land-use patterns that are automobile-dependent, energy and land consumptive, and require a very high ratio of road surface to development served.
Spur Trail: A trail that leads from primary, secondary, or spine trails to points of user interests-overlooks, campsites, etc.
Staging Area: An area where users can congregate, park, and begin or end a trip. Designed and managed for day use, whereas a trailhead usually caters to those embarking on an overnight or long-distance trip.
Stakeholder(s): Group or individual who can affect, or is affected by, the achievement of the organization's mission; examples include managers, employees, policy makers, suppliers, vendors, citizens, and community groups.
Stakes, Grade or Slope: Temporary stakes set by the trail locator to establish the elevation and cross section of the completed tread.
Stakes, Line: Temporary stakes set by the trail locator to establish the centerline of the trail.
Standard(s): Something established for use as a rule or basis of comparison in measuring maximum or ideal requirements, quantity, quality, value, etc.
Standards, Design: Values selected and documented from the design criteria that become the standards for a given trail or greenway project.
Star Drill: A foot-long tool, weighing about a pound, used with a single-jack hammer to punch holes in rock or open a seam/crack.
Station: One hundred feet measured along the centerline of the trail or road; used in surveying and construction.
Statute: Law passed by Congress or a state legislature that declares, commands, or prohibits something.
Steel Rungs: Placed on rock faces or ledges to provide ladder-like access in steep terrain.
Step: Structure (stone or wood) that provides a stable vertical rise on the trail, usually in sets.
Step, Pinned: Step held in place on a ledge or a rock slab by steel pins set in holes drilled in the rock.
Stepping Stones: Large rocks (preferably greater than two hundred pounds) set in boggy areas or shallow stream crossings to provide passage for hikers.
Steward: The person taking responsibility for the well-being of land and water resources and doing something to restore or protect that well-being.
Stewardship: Taking responsibility for the well-being of land and water resources and doing something to restore or protect that well-being. It usually involves cooperation among people with different interests and sharing of decision-making. It is generally voluntary. It is oriented towards assessment, protection, and rehabilitation of trails and greenways as well as sustainable use of renewable resources.
Stile: A step or set of steps for hikers to pass over a fence or wall without allowing livestock to escape.
Stob (Stub): Projecting (and hazardous) piece of a branch, root, or sapling not cut flush with the trunk or ground.
Stolon: An above-ground stem capable of growing a new plant.
Stone: A rock put to human use.
Straw Bale: Temporary barriers made from bales of straw that are sometimes installed across a slope or around the perimeter of a construction site to intercept and detain sediment transported by runoff.
Stream: Small body of running water moving in a natural channel or bed.
Stream, Intermittent: Channels that naturally carry water part of the year and are dry the other part.
Stream, Perennial: Stream channels that carry water year round.
Stream Crossing: A trail crossing a body of running water at grade without the use of a developed structure or bridge.
Streamflow: The movement of water through a channel.
Stringer: The lengthwise member of a structure, usually resting on sills, that spans wet areas and supports the decking.
Structure: Anything constructed or erected that requires location on the ground such as a bridge, wall, steps, etc. on or near a trail.
Stuff Sack: A water-repellant or waterproof bag with a drawstring, used for compact storage of gear.
Sub-base: On paved trails the sub-base lies between the sub-grade and the trail surface, and serves as a secondary, built foundation for the trail surface (concrete or asphalt). The purpose of the sub-base is to transfer and distribute the weight from the trail surface to the sub-grade. The sub-base consists of four- to six-inches of graded aggregate), which provides bearing strength and improves drainage.
Sub-grade: The native soil mass that makes up the primary foundation of the trail that supports the tread surface. Topography, soils, and drainage are the key factors comprising the sub-grade.
Subsoil: The soil below the surface soil in which roots normally grow. It has been carried over from early days when "soil" was conceived only as the plowed soil and that under it as the "subsoil."
Substrate: Underlying layer of loose/soft material below topsoil and overlying bedrock.
Subsurface Rights: The right to use or control land below the trail surface. Subsurface rights may be leased for water, sewer, or fuel pipelines; or electrical, telephone, or fiber-optic cables.
Suitable Material: Rock that can be accommodated in the trail structure, and soil free of duff with a recognizable granular texture.
Summit: The highest point (top) of a mountain.
Super-Elevated (Superelevation, Bermed, Banked): Slope or bank of a curve or climbing turn expressed as the ratio of feet of vertical rise per foot of horizontal distance. The outside edge of a trail is raised or banked for the purpose of overcoming the force causing a vehicle (bicycle or OHV) to skid when maintaining speed in a curve.
Surfacing: Material placed on top of the trailbed or base course that provides the desired tread. It lessens compaction of soil, provides a dry surface for users, and prevents potential erosion and abrasion.
Survey, Trail: A physical field assessment of the trail or proposed trail, to determine alignment, maintenance tasks, hazards, impact, etc., prior to work, or as part of ongoing trail maintenance.
Survey, Visitor: Most frequently used method of obtaining detailed information on visitor characteristics, attitudes, and preferences. Consists of two parts: 1) contacting a sample of visitors (either at trailheads or at home): and 2) obtaining visitor use information by either interviewing visitors or asking them to respond to a questionnaire.
Sustainability: Community use of natural resources in a way that does not jeopardize the ability of future generations to live and prosper.
Sustainable Development: Development that maintains or enhances economic opportunity and community well-being while protecting and restoring the natural environment upon which people and economies depend. Sustainable development meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Sustainable Natural Surface Trail: A trail that supports currently planned and potential future uses with minimal impact and negligible soil loss while allowing the naturally occurring plant systems to inhabit the area, recognizing required pruning and eventual removal of certain plants over time. The sustainable trail will require little rerouting and minimal maintenance over extended periods of time.
Swale: A linear low-lying natural topographic drainage feature running downhill and crossing the trail alignment in which sheet runoff would collect and form a temporary watercourse. A low-lying ground drainage structure (resembling a swale) can be constructed to enhance drainage across the trail.
Swamp: An area of wet, spongy land; bog, marsh.
Swedish Safety Brush Axe (also known as a Sandvik): A machete-like tool with a protected short, replaceable blade and a 28-inch handle used to cut through springy hardwood stems.
Switchback: A sharp turn in a trail (usually constructed on a slope of more than 15%) to reverse the direction of travel and to gain elevation. The landing is the turning portion of the switchback. The approaches are the trail sections upgrade and downgrade from the landing.
Sylvan: Of, found, or living in the woods or forest.
System: Set of interconnected components that function as a whole and thereby achieve a behavior or performance that is different than the sum of each of the components taken separately.
Tack: Bridles, saddles and other equipment used on horses and pack stock.
Tackifier: Material sprayed onto a soil surface to bind soil particles and prevent erosion.
Tailings: The dump at a mineral processing plant; material remaining after metal is extracted from ore.
Taking: A real estate term traditionally used to mean acquisition by eminent domain but broadened by the US Supreme Court to mean any government action that denies viable economic use of property.
Talus: Large rock debris on a slope. The rocks are larger and have sharper edges than those found on scree slopes.
Technical: Section along a trail that is difficult to navigate; used by mountain bikers to describe difficult to ride sections of trail.
Technical Assistance: Help (advice and knowledge; usually not financial) offered by federal and state agencies to local groups developing trails and greenways.
Tent Pad(s): An area the size of a tent where soil and gravel are built up inside some cribbing (log or stone) to improve drainage.
Tent platform(s): Wooden platform (single, double, or group tent sizes) used to minimize damage to fragile alpine or wetlands areas, or to reduce impact on heavily used, erosion-prone campsite(s).
Tent Site(s): A designated flat, dry spot where a tent may be pitched. Site may have a central fire pit and pit toilet.
Terminus: Either the beginning or end of a trail.
Texture, Soil: Relative proportions of the various size groups of individual soil grains in a mass of soil. Specifically, it refers to the proportions of clay, silt, and sand in soil.
Texturing: The act of placing natural features (rock, logs) back into a trail to help control speed or user conflict.
Thru-Cut Climbing Turn: A turn which is constructed on a sidehill of 20% or more when measured between the exterior boundaries of the turn, and which cuts through the sidehill grade as it changes the direction of the trail 120 to 180 degrees.
Thru-Hiker: Someone who attempts to cover a long trail, such as the Appalachian Trail, in one continuous trek.
Tie Log: Structural member notched into the horizontal facer and wing walls used to secure the facer and wings by utilizing the mass of the backfill.
Tight and Technical: A type of trail design that allows for tight turns and slow speeds, while using natural features as technical obstacles.
Timber Carrier: A tool, with a long handle and hooks, which allows two people on each side of the carrier to transport logs or timber.
Title: Rights of ownership of property; paper that indicates ownership.
Title Search: A legal review of deeds of record in the chain of title to a piece of property analyzing all encumbrances or prior sales of the property to make sure that a piece of real estate can be sold without anyone else claiming rights to it.
Toe: The break in slope at the foot of a bank where the bank meets the bed.
Top Bank: The break in slope between the bank and the surrounding terrain.
Topo (USGS Topographic, Contour) Map: Maps published by the United States Geological Survey, indicating built and natural features (buildings, roads, ravines, rivers, etc.) as well as elevation changes and land cover. Available from many government offices, outdoor shops, and map stores; or from digitized versions on the Internet.
Topography: The elevation and slope of the land as it exists or is proposed. It is represented on drawings by lines connecting points at the same elevation. Typically illustrated by dashed lines for existing topography and solid lines for proposed.
Track: Mark left by something that has passed along; footprint or wheel rut. A pair of parallel metal rails on which trains run.
Track, Fitness (Jogging Track): Path or course laid out for exercise (walking, jogging, running). Usually no more than a mile and laid out in an oval.
Track Tie Memory: On rail-trails the removed railroad cross ties can leave an imprint (or memory). To remove this "memory" the ballast needs to be graded and compacted before laying a trail surface.
Trail: Route on land or water with protected status and public access for recreation or transportation purposes such as walking, jogging, motorcycling, hiking, bicycling, ATVing, horseback riding, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and backpacking.
Trail, Backcountry: A primitive trail (can be open to motorized or nonmotorized users) in an area where there are no maintained roads or permanent buildings.
Trail, Dendritic: Resemble linear trails except that they have many branches which are, for the most part, unconnected to each other, and which terminate in dead ends.
Trail, Frontcountry: Less emphasis is put on minimizing contact with signs of the civilized world. The main objective is to provide enjoyable trail experiences within the vicinity of developed areas by utilizing the scenic and interpretative features of semi-urban, rural, and natural environments.
Trail, Linear: Trails that start and return exactly along the same route and have a beginning and an end.
Trail, Long Distance: In general a trail best characterized by length (more than 50 miles), linearity (follows a linear feature), and diversity (geographic and political).
Trail, Loop(ed): Trail or trail systems designed so that the routes form loops, giving users the option of not traveling the same section of trail more than once on a trip.
Trail, Stacked Loop: Trail or trail systems designed with many loops "stacked" on each other, giving users the option of not traveling the same section of trail more than once on a trip.
Trail Access Information: Objective information reported to trail users through signage, about the grade, cross slope, tread width, and surface of a trail.
Trail Angel: Name given to anyone who goes out of their way to help out a trail user by offering food, shelter, or a ride into town out of the goodness of their hearts rather than for profit or gain.
Trail Care Crew (TCC) Program: Subaru/IMBA sponsored two-person crews that travel and teach trail users and managers how to design, build, maintain, and manage trails that are environmentally sound and fun to use.
Trail Community: Includes those with an interest in, or relationship to a particular trail (long distance or system): volunteers, landowners, government agency personnel, and the officials and citizens of local communities through which the trail passes or trail system is located. For example, there is the Appalachian Trail community.
Trail Protection: Implies that where a trail is threatened by development or where the route is constantly being rerouted, specific measures are invoked to guarantee a permanent or protected status. When a trail is adequately protected, development cannot dismember it or destroy its values to trail users.
Trail System(s): A collection of individual trails that may or may not be connected to one another, whereby each retains its distinctiveness, and yet belongs to the system by association with a federal, state, local, or bioregional context.
Trailbed: The finished surface on which base course or surfacing may be constructed. For trails without surfacing, the trailbed is the tread.
Trailhead: An access point to a trail or trail system often accompanied by various public facilities, such as a horse or OHV unloading dock or chute, parking areas, toilets, water, directional and informational signs, and a trail use register. Designed and managed for those embarking on an overnight or long-distance trip, whereas a staging area caters to trail day use.
Trailway: The portion of the trail within the limits of the excavation and embankment.
Trample (Trampling): To tread heavily so as to bruise, crush, or injure; refers to the process of vegetation being destroyed by trail users.
Transportation Enhancements: Projects that include: providing bicycle and pedestrian facilities; converting abandoned railroad rights-of-way into trails; preserving historic transportation sites; acquiring scenic easements; mitigating the negative impacts of a project on a community by providing additional benefits; and other nonmotorized projects.
Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21): Federal legislation authorizing highway, highway safety, transit, and other surface transportation programs from 1998 through 2003. It provides funding opportunities for pedestrian, bicycling, and public transit facilities, and emphasizes intermodalism, multimodalism, and community participation in transportation planning initiated by ISTEA.
Travelway: The trail as a whole, including the trail tread and the cleared areas on either side of the trail.
Traverse: To cross a slope horizontally going gradually up and across in lieu of the more direct up and over approach.
Tread (Treadway): The actual surface portion of a trail upon which users travel excluding backslope, ditch, and shoulder. Common tread surfaces are native material, gravel, soil cement, asphalt, concrete, or shredded recycled tires.
Tread Creep: When the loose soil of the trail tread moves (sags or slides) down the side of the hill because of erosion or use.
Tread Lightly!: Educational program designed to instill outdoor ethics of responsible behavior when participating in outdoor activities (www.treadlightly.org).
Tread Width: The width of the portion of the trail used for travel.
Tree: Any woody plant that normally grows to a mature height greater than 20 feet and has a diameter of four inches or more at a point four feet above the ground.
Tree Line (Timber Line): The farthest limit, either in altitude on a mountain, or the farthest north in the northern hemisphere, in which trees are able to grow. Beyond this line, the environment is too harsh for trees to survive.
Trek: To hike a long way. Trekkers are long-distance hikers.
Trekking Pole(s): Telescoping hiking poles used in pairs. Each pole, when planted, reduces weight on the legs and back thereby reducing fatigue, increasing speed, and providing stability when hiking with or without a backpack.
Trespasser: Person who uses property without the owner's implied or stated permission and not for the benefit of the property owner. Due the least duty of care and therefore pose the lowest level of liability risk.
Trestle: Mid-span support for a bridge.
Triangulation: System of equating compass and maps to a known landmark.
Tributary: A river or stream feeding into a larger waterway or lake.
Trio Maintenance: Three-step function of removing slough, berm, and brush. Also called fire line trail maintenance.
Triple Crown Trails: The Appalachian Trail (2,167 miles long), the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles), and the Continental Divide Trail (approximately 3100 miles) are known as the "Triple Crown" of long-distance trails.
True North: The direction toward the geographic North Pole. Most maps are oriented to True North.
Tumpline: A strap slung over the forehead, to anchor a backpack.
Turnout: A place where the trail is widened to permit trail traffic traveling in opposite directions to pass.
Turnpike (Turnpiking): Technique of raising the trail bed above wet, boggy areas by placing mineral soil over fabric between parallel side logs or rocks (along edge of tread). The tread must be "crowned" and ditches dug alongside the logs or rocks to provide drainage.
Understory: All forest vegetation growing under the canopy or upper layers of forest vegetation.
Undulating Trail: One that follows a wavelike course, often going in and out of gullies.
Universal Design: Few if any barriers exist to inhibit accessibility.
Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP): An inventory process that can be used by trail managers to assess a trail to determine compliance with design guidelines and to provide objective information to trail users regarding grade, cross slope, tread width, surface, and obstacles.
Unravel: To lose material from the edges of a retaining wall (revetment, cribbing).
Urban Areas: Places within boundaries set by state and local officials having a population of 5,000 or more.
User Fee: Any charge for use of services, facilities, trails, or areas. Examples include trail use fees, entrance fees, parking fees, shelter fees, or voluntary donations.
Utility: Public utilities (electric, telephone, fiber optic, water and sewage, and gas companies) and utility-like facilities (pipelines, roads, levees, canals)
Vandalism: Crime of damaging or destroying someone else's property.
Viewshed: Land that comprises a view.
Visitor-Day: One 24-hour day spent by one visitor at a given site. Used by agencies to count visits to developed sites, trails, and backcountry.
Visitor-Day, Recreation: 12 hours of recreation at a given site. One recreation visitor-day can be one person for 12 hours, or two persons present for 6 hours, and so on. Used by agencies to count visits to developed sites, trails, and backcountry.
Visitors: Total number of people that visit an area during some unit of time, usually a year. Used by agencies to count visits to developed sites, trails, and backcountry.
Volunteer: Person who works on a trail or for a trail club without pay.
Walkway: An area for general pedestrian use (other than a sidewalk or path) such as courtyards, plazas, and pedestrian malls.
Wash: Removal or erosion of soil by the action of moving water. A natural watercourse, wet or dry.
Water Course: Any natural or built channel through which water naturally flows or will collect and flow during spring runoff, rainstorms, etc.
Water Trail (River Trail, Canoe Trail): A recreational waterway on lake, river, or ocean between specific points, containing access points and day use and/or camping sites for the nonmotorized boating public.
Waterbar: A drainage structure (for turning water) composed of an outsloped segment of tread leading to a barrier placed at a 45° angle to the trail; usually made of logs, stones, or rubber belting material. Water flowing down the trail will be diverted by the outslope or, as a last resort, by the barrier. Grade dips are preferred on multi-use trails instead of waterbars.
Waterfall: Steep descent of water from a height.
Waterlogged: A soil condition in which both large and small pore spaces are filled with water. The soil may be intermittently waterlogged because of a fluctuating water table or it may be waterlogged for short periods after rain.
Watershed (Drainage Basin, Catchment Basin): A region or area bounded peripherally by a water parting formation (i.e. ridge, hill, mountain range) and draining ultimately to a particular watercourse or body of water.
Wayside(s): Site(s) along a trail that allows users a place to stop to sit, rest, eat, enjoy a view, or read an informational display. They can be located where there are noteworthy natural or cultural resources, attractive views, or a lack of other nearby facilities.
Weathering: The physical and chemical disintegration and decomposition of rocks and minerals.
Weed Cutters (Weed Whip, Swizzle Stick, Swing Blade): Tool with a serrated blade at the end of a wooden handle, used to clear trail corridors of succulent vegetation.
Weephole: Opening left in a retaining wall (revetment, cribbing) to allow groundwater drainage.
Wetland(s): A lowland area, such as a marsh or swamp, which is saturated with water, creating a unique, naturally occurring habitat for plants and wildlife.
Wheel Guard: Narrow logs, poles, or lumber installed along the edges of bridge or puncheon decking designed to help keep wheeled equipment (wheelchair, bicycle, OHV) from running off the edge of the structure.
Wheelbarrow: A shallow open box with a wheel in front and two handles in the rear; used for moving small loads.
Wheelchair: Mobility aid, designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments; may be manually operated or motorized.
Weir: A natural dam.
Wilderness: Undeveloped land and associated water resources retaining their primeval character and influence.
Wilderness Act of 1964 (16 U.S.C. 1131-1136): Act of Congress that established federal Wilderness Areas. As defined, Wilderness Areas are undeveloped federal lands without permanent improvements or human habitation that are protected and managed so as to preserve natural conditions. The Act prohibits the use of mechanized vehicles and construction in Wilderness Areas.
Wilderness Area: Uninhabited and undeveloped federal land to which Congress has granted special status and protection under authority of the Wilderness Act of 1964. Allows foot and horse traffic only; no mountain bikes, OHV use, hang gliders, or other "machines."
Wilderness Study Area (WSA): An area possessing wilderness characteristics as defined in the Wilderness Act. These areas are maintained in their original condition and evaluated for possible inclusion in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Wildland(s): Ecologically healthy lands that are in their original natural state.
Wildlife: Any non-domesticated animal species living in its natural habitat.
Winch: Applicable to a broad array of devices that use a drum, driven by a handle and gears, around which a cable is wound, to provide mechanical advantage for moving heavy objects.
Windchill: The cooling effect that results from wind-especially dramatic if wearing wet clothes.
Wing: Angled barriers at a bridge approach used to channel traffic and prevent trail users from inadvertently plunging over embankment.
Wing Wall (Wingwall): A structural component of a retaining wall, which is interlocked with the facer or front of the wall. The wing generally intersects with the facer at a 45º angle, but may be at an angle between 1 and 90º. This component is anchored by tie logs and both assists the facer in retaining the fill material, and helps prevent flanking.
Wood Chips: Chipped wood, often available from tree trimming operations; produces a soft, spongy trail surface, and is used on many nature trails.
Yellow-Blazing: A long-distance trail user taking to the road instead of sticking to the trail.
Yield: Being prepared to yield the trail to another user by slowing down, preparing to stop, establishing communication, and passing safely.
Yo-Yo(ing): Turning around after completing a long-distance trail trip and returning to the start making it a round-trip.
Yogi(ing): Trail users "yogi" when they entice a non-trail user out of something they need or want without actually asking for it. Named after Yogi the Bear from cartoon fame because of his habit of making off with people's picnic baskets.
Zero-Mile Mark: The point at which a measured trail starts.
Zipline: Rigging system with a taut, stationary wire rope highline for moving loads on a movable pulley.
Zoning (Laws): Specifying use or restrictions on land. Zoning can effectively protect trail corridors from development adjacent to the trail that might block views, destroy sensitive habitat, create traffic problems, and generally diminish a trail experience.
This information is presented here with permission of and special thanks to the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, which contributed to the Trails and Greenways Clearinghouse the use of the original list from Trails Primer: A Glossary of Trail, Greenway, and Outdoor Recreation Terms and Acronyms, 2001, Jim Schmid, editor, South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Columbia, SC.
Last updated January 2002.