Planning and designing hiking and cycling trails to minimise impact and relieve Park management.

Planning and designing hiking and cycling trails
to minimise impact and relieve Park management

31st January 2023 – 11:00 CET

Mountain biking as an activity can be controversial in some Protected Areas. Especially in Periurban Parks, where an ever-increasing number of mountain bikers seek trails for recreational use and training purposes, many Park managers and visitors attribute damage to the natural environment to cyclists.

Mountain biking is sometimes singled-out due to the ecological degradation and soil erosion that the activity can cause to trails. However, do other recreational activities not also contribute to soil erosion? And, how is the placement, alignment and construction of the trails used by visitors in Protected Areas contributing to, for example, erosion, by not preventing water run-off?

In this webinar, we learnt whic techniques can be applied to plan and improve the design of trails to make them more sustainable, by reducing impacts on the natural environment and minimising their future maintenance requirements. Furthermore, we heard about a successful collaboration between a Park management body and a bikers’ association in the transformation of an existing path into two distinct paths, one for hiking and one for mountain bikes.

This webinar is the first one of a series of webinars organised by EUROPARC’s Periurban Parks Commission to deepen and illustrate the Periurban Parks Toolkit on Planning and Management, launched in 2021.

Setting the scene
Teresa Pastor – EUROPARC Federation

Recreational trails for hiking and mountain biking: sustainable planning and design.
Hans Stoops, 
Advocacy officer, and Sustainable Trails expert, International Mountain Bicycling Association – Europe.

Hans presented the basics of trail building, as well as common mistakes that lead to unsafe or unsustainable trails.

Check Hans’ presentation here for more details.

Construction of a Mountain Bike trail in Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest, a highly frequented Periurban Park in Athens.
George Sourvinos,
Member of the Hellenic Mountain Bike Association.

George introduced

See George’s presentation here for more details.


More information contributed from our great participants through the chat:

  • Healthy Parks, Healthy People – Health and Wellbeing 2025 programme, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland
  • City Oasis Technical University of Munich- Health and Urban Parks. Currently working with Citizen Science to understand the relevance of different urban green spaces to social and mental wellbeing of people in Munich. Which vegetation structures can benefit both, biodiversity and people?
  • An article on “How engaging with nature can facilitate active healthy ageing”
  • Wiki collection of practical experiences – including health – promoted by Protected Areas from EUROPARC Spain (in Spanish)
  • Information page: the benefits of South Downs National Park to your health and wellbeing
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning: Outdoor Mental Health Interventions and Outdoor Therapy, a helpful link to consider where your intervention might sit.
  • Natural Academy trainings into nature connection / eco psychology
  • National Academy for Social Prescribing, whose Thriving Communities regional leads connect health needs with local providers of activity
  • PNAS. A research article from Denmark “Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood”, connected to the type of nature people experience