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Trail “Sign” Language

December 15, 2011
Trail Sign Language slideshow – 2012
Compiled Notes  – Trail Sign Forum – Feb.15, 2012
See additional Trail Sign Comments posted at bottom of this POST.
Trail “Sign” Language
Balancing aesthetics and information to help you find, follow, and enjoy Upper Valley trails
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 – 6 to 8 p.m.
Location: Tracy Hall, Norwich
What trail signs are out there and what would you like to see?
     Trail Names

Rochegude Signpost, Provence Region of France - Photo by Barbara McIlroy

     Painted Blazes/Disks
     Permitted Uses
     Travel Times
     Distance Markers
     Trail Ethics/Rules
     Map Boxes/Kiosks
     Trail Maintainer/Ownership Info
     Electronic Map Codes (QR codes)
Join in on a two hour presentation and discussion as we explore the multitude of Upper Valley trail sign possibilities and help plan for future trail enjoyment. Invitation
Presented by Upper Valley Trails Alliance
Please E-mail to register.

Kluge Trails sign with laminated Trail Ethics Guidelines, Enfield, NH

One Comment leave one →
  1. permalink
    March 6, 2012 12:12 pm

    Hi Nicole,

    Nice to hear from you Nicole and thanks for your input.

    Here’s a start on a continuing discussion about trail signage and some possible standardization…

    The majority of trail groups that participated at the forum preferred standardized signage or at least some standardization. Allowed “Trail Use symbols” were considered a great way to get the USE message across – starting out with a positive message (as you suggest “Welcome” or “Allowed Uses”) and if that doesn’t result in the appropriate behavior then moving towards images with lines through them.

    As you may have seen in Saturday’s Valley News, Section B, ” Trail Signage” article by Jared Pendak, “universal signage with customizable features” was considered the preferred option. The local pride and identity that you mention in “comment 2” reflects the rationale for the customizable options. Based on the Trail Sign Forum discussions and comments/feedback like you’ve provided, UVTA will be writing a short “Upper Valley Trail Sign Standards” manual. Our plan is to help groups know what is considered as the preferred trail marking methods for the Upper Valley (identifying what key pieces of information should be included, where signage can be purchased/ how to make signs, installaiton methodology, etc.) and allow trail groups/landowners to consider these standards when shaping their trail marking practices. In this way we believe there will be more consistency in navigating trails in the Upper Valley while “local pride and identity” will be well served.

    The use of a simple text address was considered the best way to share information about a property/trail/maintainer, etc. without competing with the natural aesthetics. For those groups wishing to market themselves, logos are often considered valuable branding opportunities but some Sign Forum participants felt they can be rather “in your face” (depending on size, quantity per sign, and colors). Discussion focused on – How can a variety of information pieces be provided to a trail user? – having a website link was deemed the most effective way to provide a lot of information and avoid sign pollution while providing some recognition of owner or maintaining group. In the future the QR Code was enthusiastically considered an interesting way to avoid clutter and make use of technology to avoid the need for major kiosks and various trailhead signs. In case you aren’t aware, the UV Trail Finder also provides a way for two way communication between trail users and maintainers/land owners through the comments section. If at some point in time Lebanon would like to re-engage in a Trail Finder discussion and possibly give it a try, I’d be glad to help out. It’s a great way to be informative and show where jurisdictional boundaries are located, provide contact information, and interpretive details including geo-located photos. Request for “interpretive trails designed specifically for children” was mentioned by a few forum participants – sounded like a great idea to me.

    I’ve also added a few notes below re your comments 3 and 4.

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments, and for taking the time to view the slideshow and read the trail Sign Forum notes.


    (John Taylor, Trail Programs Director, UVTA)

    Greetings, John and Russ. SO glad that winter’s come back some, and indeed I’ve been making sure to get out there, as I hope you have, too.

    Thanks very much for your follow-up on the Feb. 15 forum; you know I remain very interested in the use and stewardship of the region’s trails and lands, particularly Lebanon’s.

    Having looked over the slideshow & forum notes, I have these thoughts for your consideration:

    1. Excellent slideshow; sorry to have missed the discussion!

    2. The possible standard trail use display (p. 24) looks plenty clear. You might consider adding the word “welcome” or “only” in white, inside the bottom of the brown oval, in order to suggest or declare (respectively) that uses not depicted are not allowed.

    What would be the process for standardizing trail signage? Is that goal shared by the various landowners and stewardship entities? There are advantages to the standardized sign, especially for folks “from away” or who don’t know that “someone” owns the land and is responsible for the trails. On the other hand, there is local pride and identity (not to mention investment of $$ and sweat) in the presentation and management of trails… Is the idea to add these standardized use signs to what’s already there, or to replace what’s out there?

    3. Context matters. Trailheads are the place for LOTS of information; the trails themselves, less so (except for interpretive trails, which of course have great value). I like “You are here” at major &/or confusing intersections.

    John’s Response: Most people wanted to have intersections clearly marked so they knew where they were heading. Intersection number signs with intersections referenced on a map was one such option (ie: Pine Hill Park in Rutland, VT), map boxes with intersection numbers or your preference for “You Are Here” was also mentioned.

    4. Maintenance is forever, as you well know, Lebanon trail signage, though improved over the years, still needs work, especially along the boundary between conserved lands (Boston Lot, Indian Ridge) and Dartmouth’s Landmark Tract. Rogue trail-building might be discouraged somewhat by clearer demarcation of where one’s entering City conservation land, use restrictions, & contact info for anyone with questions/ideas/complaints.

    John’s Response: Good point.

    All for now, but thanks again for the opportunity to comment. Please keep me in the loop and…

    HAVE FUN out there.


    Nicole Cormen, Lebanon

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