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Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Structures



Full course description

Course summary:

The Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Structures course is an introductory course targeted to developing trail workers. This course serves as an introduction to trail structures and their implementation for protecting ecologically sensitive areas along a trail and keeping trail users safe. Topics include water crossings, structures critical to trail sustainability, and structures to enhance user experiences.

Course objectives:

After completing this course, learners should be able to:

  • Describe five types of water crossings.
  • Match water crossings to anticipated use and construction needs.
  • Identify structures critical to trail sustainability.​

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:

  • ​​The Case for Trail Structures
  • Water Crossings
  • ​Structures Critical to Trail Sustainability​

Elements of the course:

  • Informational text
  • 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!