Communications Project

Document Type:Master's Thesis
Name:Janet Y. Ferguson
Title:Location and Design of Recreational Hiking Trails: Application of GIS Technology
Degree:Master of Science
Committee Chair: Dr. Lawrence W. Carstensen
Committee Members:Dr. Jeffrey L. Marion
W. M. Aust
Keywords:GIS, Trails, Recreation Ecology, Trail Design
Date of defense:February 9,1998
Availability:Release the entire work for Virginia Tech access only.
After one year release worldwide only with written permission of the student and the advisory committee chair.


As population increases, the need for public recreation facilities and resources increases. The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, and other recreation providers are constrained by limited time and funding to plan for, and implement, recreational facilities for the areas that they serve. Poorly located and designed recreational trails increase maintenance costs, resource degradation, and the inefficient utilization of public resources. The potential application of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to this specific type of problem is examined through the comparison of hypothetical trail routes generated by several different methods, existing trail field surveys, office design, GIS user-assisted design, and cost-path analysis design. Each method is compared statistically and qualitatively by GIS methods and office based methods. Each hypothetical trail is ranked according to effectiveness of design, providing insight into trail design methods. The office designed hypothetical trails were consistently ranked highest by an expert forest road designer.

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