The selection of surface material for trails and paths is primarily based on anticipated type and intensity of trail use, as well as terrain, climate, design life, maintenance, cost, and availability. Soft surface materials are low cost, but require substantial maintenance and are not suitable for many of the recreational activities today’s trails and paths are used for. Hard surface materials, specifically concrete and asphalt, provide years of service with low maintenance.
The following are the key elements to consider in building quality asphalt trails:
proper sub-grade compaction
adequate pavement thickness
adequate pavement compaction
Bike paths and walking trails in Northeast Ohio should be constructed to match the existing topography as closely as possible however, longitudinal slopes should not exceed five percent and a cross slope of two percent is desirable to provide adequate drainage away from the pavement surface. Proper drainage is one of the most important factors affecting pavement performance.
Proper drainage entails efficient removal of excess water from the trail. Surface water runoff should be handled using swales, ditches and sheet flow. Catch basins, drain inlets, culverts and underground piping may also be necessary. These structures should be located off of the pavement path.