Planning Interpretation Trails

Planning Interpretation Trails

HDC has a vast amount of experience in providing interpretive assessment, planning and design services for the development of interpretive walking trails, interpretive hiking trails, interpretive cycling trails & interpretive driving trails. We have worked all over the world on many hundreds of interpretive trail projects; Please visit our projects page to find out more!

Interpretation Trail Planning

The following is the basic HDC process for developing interpretive trail master plans.

In developing an interprettation trail master plan for any thematic interpretive trail, the following areas are essential to the successful communication of the "story" to the visitors.

  • Conduct an interpretive story inventory along the total route (historic sites, industrial sites, natural sites and features, historic events, current sites/events of interest, view sheds, perceptually exciting areas (visitor perceptual psychology), etc.

  • Develop a main interpretive theme, sub-theme and story line for the trail. This might include developing a variety of themed self-guiding tours based on visitor interests such as: railroad heritage stops, historic landscapes, geology tours, industrial heritage tours, watchable wildlife tours, natural history from the car window tour stops, etc.

  • Develop very specific learning, behavioural, and emotional objectives that the trail experience is to accomplish.

  • Develop specific interpretive objectives for each individual trail including the trail head and trail end.

  • Analysis the audience or market. Who are the current or potential trail users or potential tourists? What kinds of heritage topics would they most be interested in? What are their travel destinations? Why would they want to walk / cucle/ ride / drive this trail? In any heritage tourism marketing you only market one thing; "BENEFITS". What are the specific benefits that a byway visitor would get from doing the trail?

  • Determine the most cost effective interpretive media for the trail: Interpretive Panels (number, size, locations); self-guiding booklets; self-guiding cassette tapes, dial-up mobile phone interpretation; step-on guides for tour busses, etc.

  • Develop an implementation strategy for the trail interpretation. This would include costs of media, development and installation times, maintenance or distribution considerations, etc.

  • Evaluation – it is important to pre-test any/all interpretive media (panels, self-guiding booklets, etc.) to make sure that the interpretive objectives are met, and that the visitors can easily understand, relate to, and remember the information being presented to them by the media in question.