How Much Does It Cost To Build A Hiking Trail?

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Hiking Trail

Hiking trails are great because they ease stress and allow you to focus on your recreation. They’re quite convenient and accommodate even slow-paced hikers.

However, for the best hiking experience, you must use a quality hiking trail. So, if its construction is not well done, there may be some problems.

Most of all, before constructing a hiking trail, you must consider the cost, including the price for subsequent maintenance routines.

The cost of building a hiking trail is not definite because you have to consider several variables. The total building cost is affected by location, width, trail surface, amenities, signage, and required structure. However, the construction cost should be approximately $17m to $27m.

Let’s dive into a detailed analysis of the cost of construction and maintenance of a standard hiking trail. Have an insightful read!

What is the Average Cost of Building a Hiking Trail?

How Much Does it Cost to Build a Hiking Trail

The average building cost of a hiking trail is around $17m to $27m. However, that excludes some exclusive features. 

Also, the cost doesn’t convert the preliminaries and consultation fees. Therefore, the process of constructing a hiking trail is quite a cumbersome one. 

You’ll need to consult different departments. Then, refine and amend the existing plan. Finally, design, appoint, and tender the building personnel. 

Once the construction begins, you’ll need to supervise, test, and proceed to commission the structure. Of course, all these stages can overlap.

In some cases where planning permission isn’t necessary, and the regular ancillaries are also in the project, there’ll be more Federal Commission (FC) revenue.

Below is a table indicating the pros and cons of building a hiking trail:

Encourages healthy living and physical fitnessGets easily crowded
Strengthens local economiesGeographic dependence
Preserves and creates open spacesBreeds wild animals

How Do You Make a Hiking Trail?

Building and maintaining a hiking trail requires so much hard work. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to build a hiking trail: 

#1. Gather the Needed Tools

For a small section of a hiking trail, you’ll need a pulaski, saw, and loppers. You can easily find a pulaski in a store around your home. 

Besides, it’s a multipurpose tool. For example, you can use it for hiking long distances, but you’ll need to add a hoe and an axe.

Any hoe is recommendable, but a shovel is preferable for trail construction. The long handle will always get in the way, but shovels aren’t exactly great for ground smoothing. 

Don’t forget to wear your gloves. They’ll help you grasp the shovel handle firmly and protect your hands from tears or blisters.

#2. Decide the Location for the Trail

Make sure to take a close look and observe where you’ll be working on. To fully view all the possible routes, you can lay out flags.  

Instead of cutting trees, please find a way to go around them. Move around and have a feel of how it’ll look like. Make sure not to create extra work for yourself.

#3. Clear the Bush

After deciding the location of the trail, start clearing the brush. You don’t have to cut everything. Just keep lopping until the trail is completely clear.

After cutting the brush, put it together and keep it off the hiking trail. Remember that anything green that’s cut will eventually turn brown. 

When there are piles of dead brush around the trail, it gives off a bad feeling. Once all is clear, look again to confirm the path you want the hiking trail to be on.

#4. Remove Obstructing Trees

You’ll need your saw to cut off the overly large trees. It’s best to leave the trees, but getting rid of them is okay when they’re in your way.

Stay alert while pulling down the tree, so it doesn’t hurt you or anyone around. After that, get rid of the stump by using a pulaski.

Continuously dig around the stump and chop the roots until it’s free from the dirt. Note that it can be a bit of work. Next, refill the hole with dirt.

#5. Remove the Roots

Don’t neglect to remove the roots—most people doing trail maintenance bypass this step. After a hiking session on a trail, pine needles and leaves will be left behind.

After some time, the roots will begin to get exposed. So, scrape off the rotten layer to see the roots when building a hiking trail.  

To remove the rotten layers, chop each side of the root. It’s not difficult. Plus, it’ll help improve the trail’s tread.

#6. Movement of Water

It’s necessary to look out where water will flow when rain falls. Check out low spots in the long downhill sections of the trail. 

Note that when water runs down the trail, it causes ruts. To push water off the trail’s tread, you’ll need to dig small ditches with a small trench along the trail.

#7. Finishing Up

After work completion, walk down the trail to feel how it is. Pull the dirt from the high side to the low hill if you notice it’s slopping down the hill.

When carrying loose dirt, it is necessary to pack them in layers. Spread out a small section of the dirt before packing it down. 

Packing a foot of dirt in one turn won’t be possible. So repeatedly packing it in layers is the best way to go.  

#8. Enjoy the Hiking Trail

Creating a hiking trail is no mere feat. While people appreciate the hard work you put into building the trail, do well to have a worthwhile experience.

Sometimes, landowners seek expert opinions about their land before constructing a hiking trail.

There are different people whose services are instrumental to the success of building a trail. Here’s a list of those who can help make a hiking trail: 

#9. Foresters

These individuals are trained on how to manage forests efficiently. However, it’s necessary to consult a forester before deciding what to do with the woods in your forest.

#10. Loggers 

Loggers are responsible for harvesting and transporting trees, mainly for forest and timber products. 

They’ll harvest the trees marked by your forester to prepare the land for trail construction.

How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Hiking Trail?

The total of trail maintenance is approximately $280,000. Since the staff levels, funding, and maintenance needs vary yearly, the estimate changes.

Before a maintenance procedure, there must be a maintenance plan. Besides the trail surface type, several other factors influence the cost of maintaining a hiking trail. 

The major cost-affecting factor is the different agencies that maintain and operate trails. 

Each agency has labor costs and access to various equipment and machinery. In addition, some agencies don’t have volunteers who offer assistance.

Routine maintenance is required to ensure the trail’s operation is usable and safe without needing reconstruction.

Some of the maintenance activities include:

  • Mowing
  • Trash clean-up
  • Pruning and general landscaping
  • Map updates
  • Concrete panel replacement, etc.

Is Building a Hiking Trail Worth it?

People have peculiar tastes. For example, several people on social media complain about the construction of hiking trails.

Notwithstanding, building a hiking trail is worth it. As far as the trail is in its best shape, there’ll be no issues. 

When maintenance is needed, the procedures shouldn’t be neglected. Even the busiest volunteer trail builders are committed to doing their best.

In cases where the trails are faulty, the owners will have to spend so much on repairs. In such a situation, it’s not worth the stress.

Plus, the well-being and safety of hikers will be on the line. That’s why surveying the land before construction is very important.

So, to have fun using a hiking trail, create a construction plan, do the necessary supervision, and assign maintenance budgets when required.

In addition, a quality hiking trail should have berms, allowing mountain bikers to move at speed through a turn. 


Learning how to build a trail is more interesting if you’re a hiker. But unfortunately, only a few people who hike are ready to sacrifice their resources and time to construct a hiking trail.

However, if you’re interested in knowing how to build a hiking trail, be proud of yourself as you’re building something many people will enjoy using.

In sum, this skill will be an outstanding achievement in your list of hiking accomplishments.

Josh Matthews

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