​​Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Hydrology

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​​Learn the basics of constructing and maintaining sustainable trails that function within the hydrology of their environment. You will learn about hydrology as the behavior of water over, under, and through the land, and you will learn some best practices for working with, rather than against, the trail’s hydrological setting.​




About This Course

The Foundations of Sustainable Trails: Hydrology course is an introductory course targeted to developing trail workers. This course serves as an introduction and overview to understanding how water impacts the design and maintenance of sustainable trails. Topics include muddiness and soil loss, drainage, and design strategies such as grade reversals, outsloping and insloping for minimizing hydrological impacts.

This course was developed jointly by American Trails and the Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University.

Course Schedule

  • Interactive practice activities
  • Learn More opportunities
  • Supplemental reference materials
  • Informal checks for understanding
  • Final quiz

Course Chapters: ​​

  • Water, Water Everywhere
  • Directing Drainage
  • Tools of the Trade
  • If You Can't Go Through It
  • Hydrology in Maintenance

Course Objectives

Be able to:

  • ​​​​​​​Explain how knowledge of hydrology in trail planning and design will result in a more sustainable trail.
  • Identify and describe best practices for designs that "get the water out of the trail."​

Recommended Background

This is an introductory course for developing trail workers. These include individuals who may have limited formal experience in construction or maintenance—but are eager to learn!

We encourage all enrollees of Foundations of Sustainable Trails courses to first complete the microlearning: Foundations of Sustainable Trails: A Trail from Start to Finish.


Aside from an internet connection, what resources will I need for the course?

No additional resources are required for this course.

Will I get a certificate after completing the course?

Yes! All courses include a final assessment to evaluate your understanding of key course concepts. A certificate of completion will be offered to you if you complete the assessment with a score of 80% or higher.

Why should I take this course?

Each Eppley e-course is designed collaboratively among experienced instructional designers, subject matter experts, and our partner organizations and institutions. The course curriculum includes current information and best practices in the field, and it is recognized by national leaders in parks, recreation, and land management. Not only will this course benefit your career by expanding your knowledge base, but it will also enhance your application and problem-solving skills.


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