Welcome To Southwest Trail Solutions Information Hub
We’re glad you found us! We hope this information helps you gain a better understanding of trail building principles and best practices, and our work.
Formed in 2008, we’re a trail design services firm based in the Sonoran Desert, although we’ve worked in the Pacific Northwest, New England, Texas, Nevada – even a temperate jungle in Jalisco, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. We’re committed to helping our clients achieve their objectives as they plan, build and maintain trails. We offer the benefits of many years of experience, hundreds of miles of trails designed and built, and innovative solutions. We design to maximize user enjoyment while protecting resources through sustainable design and construction techniques, many of which we developed ourselves.
Our core values include a profound reverence for the landscape and all of its components.
Our services include trail assessment, system and trail design, construction project management, and training staff and volunteers. (Learn more about how we do each of these via the highlight links above.) We also provide additional services as needed, including community involvement consulting and training.
~ WHY YOU SHOULD WORK WITH US ~
The Southwest Trail Solutions team offers experience, value, and dependability. We seek the best possible result on every project, and our satisfied clients (along with thousands upon thousands of happy trail users) are the best measure of our success.
When it comes to trails, getting it right the first time is critical. Southwest Trail Solutions prioritizes protecting resources while providing a positive outdoor experience and doing so at a reasonable cost.
“The art behind trail design is where the magic happens. A trail should provide visitors with “Wow!” moments. This can be a feature the trail takes them to, a view, a rock formation – any number of “gifts” bestowed by Nature, and waiting to be enjoyed.”
Poorly designed and built trails visit headaches on future generations of land managers and trail users. Erosion and user-made alternatives can impact both biological and cultural resources. The cost of ongoing maintenance and reroutes can exceed the original design and construction cost – and perhaps more important, the enjoyment and escape that trails can provide may evaporate, or be diminished. Examples of poorly designed trails are all too easy to find, and most of them remain in place because land managers lack the resources, and occasionally the motivation, to do the work necessary to repair and reroute them.
Experience is crucial
The Southwest Trail Solutions team has thousands of hours of construction experience – both hand building and mechanized. We have designed hundreds of miles of trails in five states and Mexico. Our commitment to every job is to provide the best possible result at a reasonable cost. [more]
Bringing the arts and sciences into a trail design is a complex process, and it takes experience to understand, recognize and merge them into a coherent and satisfactory result. The more experience a trail designer has the better the chances are that the route will be optimal for a sustainable trail that maximizes the user experience while ensuring that natural and cultural resources are protected.
Construction experience, in particular, is critical. A person who doesn’t know what it takes to build a trail can’t possibly know where it’s possible to build and where it’s not feasible; or how to make minor adjustments to reduce the complexity (and cost) of construction. Construction experience should include machine and hand-building, as well as making crib walls and switchback turns.
Good trail design requires knowledge of hydrology, soil science, biology, and history. A trail designer should know enough about these sciences to inform decisions about a trail’s design and construction.
Trail designers should know enough about hydrology to assess and predict water behavior. They should know enough about soils to determine how they adhere, if their shear strength will support a specific grade, and if native rock is appropriate for support structures. They should know enough about wildlife biology to have an idea of impacts on native flora and fauna – even if the route is checked by a biologist, a trail designer who has an idea of what to look for can save the time and expense of reroutes. They should know enough about history to have an idea of what might comprise a historic or cultural site, again if only to save having to reroute an alignment.
The art behind trail design is where the magic happens. A trail should provide visitors with “Wow!” moments. This can be a feature the trail takes them to, a view, a rock formation – any number of “gifts” bestowed by Nature, and waiting to be enjoyed.
“The value of Mark’s work on trails has been outstanding.” “He’s become the guru for sustainable trails in the West, and he’s been making a huge difference on our trails.
~Steve Anderson, planning division manager for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation.
Read more about the founder of Southwest Trail Solution’s passion for trails here (from the Arizona Daily Star and Tucson.com).
MEET SOUTHWEST TRAIL SOLUTION’S CORE TEAM
Mark has been designing, building and maintaining trails since the early 1990s. He began in Oregon, and moved to Southern Arizona in 1998, where he was involved in the design of the Arizona Trail. Other trail systems he has designed in Southern Arizona include a reroute of the 50 Year Trail, 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo Race Course, Tucson Mountain Park, Robles Pass, and the Sweetwater Preserve. Read More About Mark …
A Tucson native, Neil graduated in 2010 from the University of Colorado with a B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies and a minor in Energy Sciences. While in Colorado, Neil developed a love for mountain biking and hiking, as well as the trails that make these activities possible. An accomplished endurance
mountain biker and runner, Neil has ridden many stretches of the Arizona Trail and is very familiar with the Ripsey area. Read More About Neil …
Evan has been enjoying trails since before he could walk. He grew up in a family of avid hikers and campers, and spent his childhood wandering the woods around his family home in Pennsylvania. As an adult, Evan has spent as much of his life as possible in or around the outdoors, including working in the gear industry, as a climbing and hiking guide, and most recently as a trail builder and designer. He currently serves as the Executive Director for Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists, a trail building and mountain bike advocacy nonprofit in Tucson, AZ. Read More About Evan Pilling