TRAIL TOWNS, AMENITIES, & WAYFINDING
Rail-trails can have a big impact on community and economic development. The economic impact of rail-trails and trail tourism has been proven across the country.
Making the most of the rail-trails in our communities means making them easy to find, welcoming and hospitable. This can lead to more tourists as well as increase community events on the trails, encourage the start-up and / or expansion of recreation businesses, and improve the marketability of your town to new residents and businesses.
Trail towns are vibrant places that encourage trail users to find the goods and services they need, shop in interesting stores, stay at local hotels or B&Bs, eat in restaurants, and pick up supplies and groceries.
- Build connections that encourage trail users to take detours off the trail and into your town.
- Welcome trail users by providing information about the town on the trail. Two ways to do this are trail amenity signs that direct trail users to local services or providing a brochure box to pick-up downtown maps to services.
- Create the opportunity for trailside businesses and/or build a direct path to the downtown from the trail.
- Recruit new businesses or expand existing ones to fill gaps in goods and services.
- Encourage a trail-friendly atmosphere in the town with bike racks at businesses, trail maps in restaurants and hotels, and a community hospitality that promotes the entire trail and all the communities along it.
- A safe and well-maintained trail is at the center of the Trail Town model, so it is critical to support the organization or agency that manages the rail-trail.
Trail Town Resources
Kentucky Trail Towns- A How-to-Guide for Communities
Trail Towns on the Great Allegheny Passage: https://www.trailtowns.org
Great Allegheny Passage Graphic Identity and Sign Guidelines and Economic Impact Studies- https://gaptrail.org/about-us/studies
Making the trail experience welcoming and enjoyable involves taking into consideration the needs of the trail user. Depending on the length and uses allowed on the rail-trail, consider these possible amenities:
- Trailheads- well identified trail parking
- Public restrooms- located at or near trailheads
- Directional amenity signs
- Interpretative signs
- Exercise stations / playgrounds
- Picnic Benches / Weather shelters
- Bike Fix-It stations
- Bike Racks at restrooms and other identified stopping places on the trail
- Drinking fountains that ideally include dog water bowls
- Dog waste stations
- Equestrian facilities- such as hitching posts, parking lots large enough for horse trailers, & water troughs
WAYFINDING or DIRECTIONAL ROAD SIGNS
In West Virginia, many of the roads are managed and maintained by the WV Division of Highways. They must approve any signs on the road and will make and install any directional signs to trail parking areas / trailheads.
Signs for recreation attractions such as trails, public stream access and state parks are brown with white lettering. The WV DOH will typically sign with 3 signs from the main road to the trailhead. Trailheads should be clearly marked for trail parking at the site and have room for a minimum of three vehicles.
Contact your Division of Highways District to request trail directional signs http://www.transportation.wv.gov/highways/districts/Pages/default.aspx
You will need to provide 1) name of the trail 2) directions to trailhead, 3) contact information for this request and 4) short description of the trailhead.