Trails in Farm and Ranch Areas

As new trails are developed, it is important they are designed to be compatible with farm and ranching operations. The farm is a workplace and concerns can arise from nearby trails. Various tools can be used to effectively address most situations

In instances when a trail is proposed to be located in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR), an application must be submitted to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to seek permission for using the land as a recreational trail. ALC Applications should be submitted early in any trail planning process. It is important that applications submitted to the ALC address potential impacts of the trail along the proposed trail corridor and adjacent ALR lands, and potential mitigation strategies through the lens of agriculture. For more information on the ALC application process, please visit the ALC Website.

Common Design Solutions

If well designed and managed, trails can achieve a high level of compatibility with the farms and ranches they pass through.

Involve Agricultural Community - Trail planning should involve a strong partnership between the agricultural community and trail proponents. A key to successful trails in agricultural areas is the continued involvement and input of farmers and ranchers, throughout the planning and management processes. 

Trail Routing - Trails should be directed away from or around agricultural areas wherever possible.

Buffers - Leaving a visual or physical barrier between trail users and sensitive areas of a farm or ranch can offer privacy and security.  Five basic types of agricultural buffers include: fencing, physical separation, water features, vegetation and elevation differences.

The abrupt elevation change provided by the dike and the fencing discourage trespass onto adjoining farmland.

Signage - A well-designed, coordinated sign system can help ensure smooth, efficient trail management.  Four general types of trail signs include: do's and don'ts, trail information, interpretive and advertisement.