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Build a Hiking Trail

Lay out a footpath through your property that’ll offer easy access to its highlights, while also providing a peaceful respite in nature.

| April/May 2020

Photo by Getty Images/Matt Francis

America is crisscrossed by thousands of miles of hiking trails, deep within national parks and forests and peppered around state public lands. Often, these dirt paths can take you far from any roads for a true wilderness experience.

Some of my most memorable moments in life have been deep in the backcountry, having snaked through the mountains on a well-maintained trail. A few weeks on the Appalachian Trail gave me new friends. Weekends in the secluded San Juan Mountains in Colorado taught me the importance of slowing down when life starts to get too hectic.

For many other Americans, too, these sorts of public land hiking trails represent the best way to explore the outdoors. State and federal agencies, as well as trail club partners, have worked tirelessly to build and maintain these footpaths, from the world-famous Pacific Crest Trail to little-known ones dotting the countryside. The best part is that most of them are accessible. They might require only a nominal entry fee, while others are free of charge to all.

For those of you with some land of your own, building a hiking trail can be a practical way to explore the depths of your property like never before. The benefits include a clear walking path that’s easy to access and follow, which can snake next to the highlights of your land. Guests, too, will surely relish the chance to explore the woods on a manicured path. Here are the steps you’ll need to take to build a hiking path of your own.

Survey Your Property

The first step to constructing your own hiking trail is to think about places on your property that are special to you, such as unique trees or beautiful meadows, as well as areas with a good chance of spotting wildlife. You’ll likely want the trail to wend through these highlights. Think of good starting and ending points, so you can envision where a footpath might connect the two. Drawing a map of the property with these points can help you plan potential corridors.

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