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Natural surface trail on steep, rocky, heavily forested slope

Bald Mountain Trail, Mt. Hood National Forest. Natural surface trail on steep, rocky, heavily forested slopes.

Natural surface trail on dry, rocky slope

Hawes Loop Trail, City of Mesa, AZ.

Crushed stone and woodchip trail surface through forest

Springbrook Park Trail, City of Lake Oswego, OR. Crushed stone and woodchip trail surfaces.

Paved accessible trail

Paved accessible trail. Handrail (installed per client specs) helps assist with relatively steep grade on this section. Cedar Sinai Park, Portland, OR.

Six Benefits of
Appropriate Use of
Mechanized Equipment

  • Narrow, small and nimble equipment can entirely fit on trails from 18" to 4' wide. Nearly all construction occurs without leaving the trailbed. Beware of contractors who use equipment wider than your trail.
  • A small crew—even one person— can quickly yet carefully do the bulk of trail construction. Bulk materials, rocks, logs, timbers, bridge parts, and imported trail surfacing are moved efficiently, safely and easily to minimize labor costs and construction time.
  • A small crew working for only a short time minimizes site impact during construction.
  • Small equipment can be brought to the site in the back of a pickup or on a small trailer, minimizing access impacts.
  • Mechanized construction helps harden the trail surface through compaction, making it more resistant to erosion and tread wear.
  • Skilled use of equipment during construction minimizes cleanup and hand work for final finish.

Trail Construction

Constructing naturalistic trails from 18 inches to 5 feet wide is our specialty.

Trail construction includes

  • Basic and advanced trail drainage
  • Optional trail surfacing with imported materials (crushed stone, woodchips, etc.
  • Trail structures (bridges, boardwalk, etc.)
  • Obliteration of closed trails and impacted areas
  • Working from your specifications or ours

From one trail to entire trail systems

From a short trail for a private landowner to complex trail networks for developers and government agencies, we can do it all. For very large projects, we can work with other trail partners as needed.

We know natural surface trails

We know that a trail is far more than a strip of bare soil. It's an experience for the visitor, it's an interactive process with the forces of nature and trail users, and it changes over time. With years of experience as well as ongoing professional development, we strive to construct trails that will be physically sustainable in terms of drainage, limiting erosion, and change over time—with minimal need for maintenance.

Naturalistic trails crafted with appropriate mechanized tools

NWWS' skilled crews use a variety of narrow, lightweight and nimble hydraulic and powered equipment to craft trails that look hand-built. We work within the trailbed as much as possible to preserve the site and virtually eliminate clean-up.

We're skilled at working in tight spaces, steep slopes, undisturbed sites and even the urban interface without disturbing resources or creating an off-trail mess. Our smaller-scale equipment has rubber tracks to avoid scarring rock or pavements.

Naturalistic trails, not small roads

We form trails as smooth or rough as you want. Through intent and construction, we can build many small subtleties into the shape of the trail to make it feel more engaging and naturalistic. If your specifications call for it, trail width can vary, and rocks and roots can be left in the trail. We can work very close to trees, rocks, plants, water and other natural features without damaging them. We do hand work wherever necessary to protect resources or work in the tightest spots.

Final finish

We use hand tools for final shaping and cleanup as needed. We pride ourselves on forming trails so naturalistic that they look as if they were built by hand.

Trail structures

Of course, we also construct and/or install trail structures such as bridges, boardwalks, turnpike, risers and steps, retaining walls, structured drainage solutions, structured drainage crossings, and trailside amenities.

We work with you

If you have a trail design, we'll work from that. If you don't, or if you would like design assistance, we can design trails from scratch or help you improve the sustainability, fun, and/or cost-effectiveness of your designs. See Trail Design.

We also offer cost- and time-saving design-build services.

For more information
Please see our detail pages: