signage

trail mapping and signage services

signage

trail mapping and
signage services

United States Access Board Logo

trail signage requirements

ABA Accessibility Standards 
1017.10 Trailhead Signs. Trail information signs at trailheads shall include the following:

  1. Length of the trail or trail segment;
  2. Surface type;
  3. Typical and minimum tread width;
  4. Typical and maximum running slope; and
  5. Typical and maximum cross slope.

Although federal standards for trail accessibility currently apply only to federal outdoor developed areas, the United States Access Board intends to establish additional standards for all non-federal outdoor developed areas under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) Accessibility Standards provide the federal guidelines for the construction and alteration of these areas, which will eventually become law for all state and local governments as well as private entities covered by the ADA. In keeping with best practices and compliance with future standards, accessibility guidelines should be incorporated into the design and alteration of all trails to the extent practicable (or reasonably doable under the circumstances), whether or not those trails currently fall under the ABA or not.

Information regarding ABA Accessibility Standards compliance can be found in more detail at the US Access Board website.

United States Forest Service Logo

USFS best practice

In addition to the ABA requirements, the United States Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines (FSTAG), which represent best practice, add additional requirements for trailhead signage. More information regarding these guidelines can be found at the USFS website.

trail signage guidelines

1017.10 Trailhead Signs. Trail information signs at trailheads shall include the following:

    1. Length of the trail or trail segment;
    2. Surface type;
    3. Typical and minimum tread width;
    4. Typical and maximum running slope; and
    5. Typical and maximum cross slope.

7.4.11 Trailhead Signs.
Where new trailhead information signs are provided at trailheads on newly constructed or altered trails, they shall comply with 7.4.11.

7.4.11.1 Clear Space. Trailhead signs shall be located centered at the back of a 30- by 48-inch (760- by 1,220-millimeter) minimum clear floor or ground space. The clear space shall not overlap the trail width but may overlap a resting space or passing space. The slope of the clear space shall not exceed 1:20 (5 percent) in any direction.

7.4.11.2 Sign Contents. Where new trail information signs are provided at trailheads on newly constructed or altered trails, regardless of whether the trail is accessible, the signs shall include at minimum the following information:

    • Length of the trail or trail segment
    • Surface type
    • Typical and minimum tread width
    • Typical and maximum running slope
    • Typical and maximum cross slope
    • A statement that the posted information reflects the condition of the trail when it was constructed or assessed, including the date of the construction or assessment

Where more extensive trail information is provided (e.g., an aerial map of the trail and related facilities), the location of specific trail features and obstacles that do not comply with the technical provisions in 7.4 should be identified and a profile of the trail grade should be included.

7.4.11.3 Reach Ranges. If materials need to be obtained from or manipulated on a sign or kiosk, the sign or kiosk shall be designed to meet the reach ranges in section 308 of the ABAAS.

information on display

In order to meet federal requirements for trail signage and effectively communicate trail conditions to meet the needs of all trail users, objective trail access information must be put on display. The collected data from our trail assessment processes is called TAI, which is short for:

Trail

Access

Information

TAI allows trail users to make educated decisions regarding which trail to travel based on individual abilities. Communicating this information in a clear and understandable way and in multiple formats is essential to keep all users informed. How do we present TAI to trail users? Trail maps and TAI SignPosts.

trail maps

Exported GIS data is collected and designed in Adobe Illustrator to display an overhead view of trails in a park or region, along with critical Trail Access Information (TAI) and features.

TAI SignPosts

Individual trail data posted at each access point provides relevant and vital Trail Access Information (TAI) necessary for every hike.

trail maps

Customized maps display an overhead view of trails in a park or region, along with critical trail information and features.

TAI SignPosts

Individual trail data posted at each access point provides relevant and vital Trail Access Information (TAI) necessary for every hike.

beneficial signage

learn more about our trail signage options

learn more about our
trail signage options

trail maps

displaying your trail system

Without adequate maps, trails and parks fail to communicate essential trail information to possible trail users. At Beneficial Designs, we want to see trails and their objective data clearly displayed in creative and understandable ways.

panel trail maps

Customized trail maps display an overhead view of trails with important trail features located in the park or region. With various basemap options such as satellite, hillshade, contour, or a combination of any, in addition to key areas, features, obstacles, and hazards, each map is designed to help users quickly become oriented to the trail environment. Trail Access Information is displayed on each map, providing the necessary objective trail data for each highlighted trail and ensuring a safe and satisfying hiking experience.

map formats

At Beneficial Designs, one of our aims is to provide easy and clear access to trail information for people of all abilities. We are interested in formatting data to accomplish that goal through whatever format is necessary to best reach trail users.

Beneficial Designs regularly designs panel trail maps, which are typically mounted at trailheads. Though stationary, these maps, often in combination with TAI SignPosts, ensure that everyone entering a park or trail system will be adequately informed about the trail environment. Panel maps are printed on Custom High-Pressure Laminate (CHPL) signage from iZone Imaging, designed to withstand the outdoors for many years. Both panel and mounting solutions can be found at the iZone Imaging Website.

Trail maps may also be customized for digital and online formats, or any printed material, such as brochures or fold-out maps.

see more trail maps at our trail projects page

TAI section

All panel maps include a section highlighting all the necessary Trail Access Information (TAI) to benefit users and meet accessibility guidelines. All the above data and more is available, enabling trail users to easily determine which trails will best satisfy their personal interests and abilities, creating a safer and more enjoyable trail experience for people of all abilities and ages. Trail colors correspond to trails in the map, which can be labeled in the map for people with color blindness. Additional info regarding data sources, funding agencies, and surface quality data can also be inserted.

TAI is displayed on every beneficial designs trail map

Trail Access Information section with objective trail data

TAI SignPosts

trailhead information

Trail Access Information (TAI) SignPosts, are uniquely designed, vertical trailhead signs which display vital trail facts for each trail. Patterned after a Nutrition Facts label, all the objective trail data is listed in a simple format, in order to keep users informed throughout the trail system. Typically 4 in. by 30 in. and mounted to a 4 in. by 4 in. wooden post, these individual trail signs provide detailed and objective trail data at each trailhead or trail segment while meeting or exceeding ABA and USFS trailhead signage guidelines. Optional QR codes can also immediately direct users to more online information. See the following example…

mounting location

Sign may be mounted here.

general trail information

Park name, trail length, elevation, and other important trail details can be included here.

allowed and prohibited

This section indicates who may and/or may not use the trail.

slopes

The angle of the trail surface can dramatically affect the difficulty level, whether parallel with or perpendicular to the trail. Typical values and ranges are provided here in addition to the specific quantity of trail surface which is at the maximum trail slope.

width of the trail

Knowing the typical width and narrowest portion of a trail helps determine if the trail will be accessible to a particular type of trail use or will meet the needs of a mobility device user.

objects in the way

A variety of obstructions are possible on any trail. Indicating the type and magnitude of obstructions is important to most users.

additional information

The date the assessment was conducted will give the user a general idea of how current the information is, in case changes have occurred to the trail. Any additional information may be shown in this section as well.

trailhead symbols

The International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA) may be placed next to the hiker to indicate that a specific trail complies with accessibility guidelines.

compliant trail name

Our smallest format uses 5/8th in. high text, meeting ABA and ADA guidelines.

surface type & quality

The level of firmness and stability of a trail surface is usually the greatest factor affecting the accessibility of a trail. Firmness and stability will determine if a user can even walk or roll across the surface of the trail. A visual range is provided for both firmness and stability.

online information

A QR code may be used to directly link trail users to any additional online trail information via a smart device.

mounting location

Sign may be mounted here.

TAI SignPost example with explanations

SignPost specs

TAI SignPosts may be printed in a variety of sizes depending on the need. Larger sizes provide better visibility and legibility for those with low-vision, but the sign may be too conspicuous.

Sign sizes range from around 30 in. by 4 in. to 50 in. by 7 in. printed on premium quality eighth inch or quarter inch Custom High Pressure Laminate (CHPL). We typically print laminate signage with iZone Imaging.

Mounting solutions may include, but are not limited to 4 in. by 4 in. wooden posts or steel sign posts. Keep in mind that signage may extend off of a signpost by 4 in. before creating an obstruction.

TAI SignPost panels can range in size from thirty to fifty inches