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Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Hydrology



Full course description

Course summary:

The Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Hydrology course is an introductory course targeted to developing trail workers. This course serves as an introduction and overview to understanding how water impacts the design and maintenance of sustainable trails. Topics include muddiness and soil loss, drainage, and design strategies such as grade reversals, outsloping and insloping for minimizing hydrological impacts.

Course objectives:

After completing this course, learners should be able to:

  • ​​​​​​​Explain how knowledge of hydrology in trail planning and design will result in a more sustainable trail.
  • ​​​​​​​Identify and describe best practices for designs that "get the water out of the trail."​

Recommended background

This is an introductory course for developing trail workers. These include individuals who may have limited formal experience in construction or maintenance—but are eager to learn! We encourage all enrollees of Foundations of Sustainable Trails courses to first complete the micro-learning: Foundations of Sustainable Trails: A Trail from Start to Finish.

Course topics include:

  • Water, Water Everywhere
  • Directing Drainage
  • Tools of the Trade
  • If You Can't Go Through It
  • Hydrology in Maintenance

Elements of the course:

  • Informational text
  • Engaging video
  • Interactive practice activities
  • Supplemental reference materials
  • Informal assessment quizzes
  • Final assessment

This course is self-paced, allowing learners the flexibility to complete the course as quickly or slowly as they need.

After completing all course content and activities, you will complete a final quiz to demonstrate your understanding of key course concepts. Upon successful completion of the quiz, you will be awarded a certificate of completion.

Course creators:

This course was designed and developed jointly by American Trails and the Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.

How to access:

Upon enrolling, you will receive instructions and the link to the Canvas course. Note: When you register, you will receive an email invitation. Be sure to accept that invitation, or Canvas will not allow you to open the course modules.

Enrollees can move through content modules at their own pace within the course timeframe.


Length: Self-paced


Eppley Center for Parks and Public Lands


Credit: CE credits available for purchase


Audience: Developing trail workers, including those who may have limited formal experience in construction or maintenance

Sign up for this course today!