training & EDUCATion

Trail Holistics has been delivering trail sustainability workshops since 2011.
Scroll down for a listing of courses and details.

Our Level II course Advanced Design and Planning builds upon our Level I course The Foundation.

Our Capacity Building for Trail Associations workshop uses a globally proven process
customized to the non profit society to build capacity and improve effectiveness by creating a blue print for the future with a clear and concise Action Plan that serves your Vision.

Customized Field Training sessions benefit trail crews, delivering specific training needs.

We are excited to announce the launch of a new workshop in 2020:
Risk Management on Recreational Trails


LEVEL I - THE FOUNDATION: Our Level I course delivers an ever improving curriculum that evolves alongside current industry best practices, guidelines and standards. We provide both volunteers and professionals the foundation of skills to assess, improve and build creative and sustainable trails with sound risk management strategies. This course provides participants with a series of handouts.

LEVEL II - ADVANCED TRAIL DESIGN & PLANNING: Land Managers, planners, designers, rec officers, park rangers, municipalities and recreation managers will benefit from the Advanced Design & Planning course.  With an emphasis on planning and design, participants learn how to incorporate effective risk management strategies when designing world class trail networks. The science of designing trails to regional factors is explored in-depth with the goal to minimize maintenance requirements through design choices. We introduce the resources and processes to assess slope and other geotechnical aspects including landform and soil analysis. Participants receive a Field Guide with an invaluable catalogue of free online resources and quick reference charts, including provincial regulatory requirements and current industry best management practices. We also provide a step by step geotechnical analysis process to determine regional factors.

LEVEL II - ADVANCED TRAIL CONSTRUCTION: This course is for trail builders that want to take it to the next level.   The focus continues to be on building world class trails through an adaptable, creative and non-formulated approach that harmonizes with regional factors. We teach coveted ‘bush-craft’ secrets to build progressive and challenging trails while staying between the goal posts of regulatory requirements, guidelines and standards while incorporating sound risk management strategies. Not every trail is the same: we take builders from the visioning process through to construction to build artistic and memorable trails through an iterative process based in part on the A.G.I.L.E. principles. Participants receive a Field Guide with quick reference charts, including regulatory requirements, an invaluable catalogue of free online resources and a series of construction schematics for advanced TTFs.

aMTB TRAILS - DESIGN & BUILD: Working with adaptive athletes including Tara Llanes & Ethan Krueger, Trail Holistics has created a series of guidelines to build sustainable and fun aMTB trails while effectively managing risk and accommodating the varied needs of adaptive riders with spinal cord injuries. This workshop will provide participants with an indepth understanding of the particular requirements to design and build adaptive trails. Participants will receive a copy of the 2nd Edition aMTB Guidelines.

CAPACITY BUILDING FOR TRAIL ASSOCIATIONS: In today's world, volunteer trail associations are becoming more encumbered with an ever increasing workload.  This workshop uses a globally delivered system to dive into the Visioning process to identify goals & objectives of the association and then create a prioritized action plan that will serve as the blue print for future success. This workshop has been tailored for the very challenges your organization will face by building both financial and social capital.

RISK MANAGEMENT ON RECREATIONAL TRAILS: We take participants through the range of regulatory requirements and legalities of doing what is reasonable to manage risk on public lands. This is a must for any planner, manager, builder or advocate to ensure you are upholding your Duty of Care. This full day course is split between the field and classroom, with each participant receiving a booklet on current regulations and best management practices ensuring that when the course is over, there are no grey areas when it comes to sound management strategies.

course detail

We discuss current industry standards and guidelines for sustainable trail construction, repair and maintenance.  Topics covered include trail assessment, realignment & repair, hazard & structure assessment, classification and risk management. Building to regional factors is emphasized as participants are introduced to the concept of the Sustainability Equation.  A thorough overview of current guidelines is provided, identifying gaps and applying up to date best management practices. Once participants become conversant with the baseline foundational concepts, the emphasis is on an adaptable and innovative approach to build world class trails.

APPLICABLE FOR: All trail users including motorized & non-motorized, MTB, hiking, multi use & equestrian.

OTHER: Participants receive a series of handouts. For a list of these handouts and a curriculum overview, email us.

TIMELINE: Course outline: Day 1 is a half day theory and half day field session to assess trails/TTFs and prescribe solutions to encourage critical thinking. Day 2 focuses on practical training to work on a project as determined. 
Contact us for a detailed course overview, including a list of course handouts.

“The whole day really made me think more about the whole process of building trail and the bigger picture. I honestly can’t think of any way to make the class better, it was super engaging.”
– Nick Yerger

This course builds upon LEVEL I to encourage creativity within sound risk management strategies when planning, designing and constructing new trails & new trail networks. In LEVEL II, we introduce participants to invaluable industry resources for plotting and terrain assessment.  The course provides an overview of network design principles to create dynamic networks that provide diversity, progression and challenge. We cover regulatory requirements for signage and design as governed by BC Provincial regulations (and other relevant standards/guidelines) to ensure Duty of Care is upheld. Participants will learn the technical skills for soil and slope analysis as part of the planning process.

In Day 2, advanced wood construction techniques are the focus.  Participants are provided with hard copy illustrations for advanced joinery, TTFs, retainers and bridge construction. Schematics are included in the Field Guide for a number of TTF models and advanced features/techniques. Comprehensive TTF guidelines and professional standards are also included in quick reference tables. Government regulations and legalities are discussed including professional management strategies to minimize liability exposure and to effectively manage risk through signage, design and current regulatory requirements.

APPLICABLE FOR: MTB Advanced Design & Construction.

OTHER: Course includes a full day of site prep by the course instructor, 2 half day theory sessions and 2 half day field sessions with the option to include an extra day of advanced field work. Contact us for a detailed overview briefing.

A 20 pg Field Guide is provided that includes charts of regulatory requirements, summary of guidelines, standards, gradients, classifications, current Best Management Practices, summarized design principles, invaluable planning resources and a series of construction schematics for advanced TTFs.

“As a past student of the Level I course, I was excited to dive deeper into the principles of professional trail development and learn more about everything from “boots on the ground” trail layout and construction techniques, to fundamental risk management considerations, to tips and tricks from veteran professional builders like Mark. Once again, I was impressed by Mark’s course. The course content is well refined, broadly applicable to community trail networks, and expertly presented. And Mark’s ability to engage and communicate with “bush-people” and “bureaucrats” alike is truly a unique gift! I highly recommend the course for all those involved in singletrack trail network planning, design and construction.”
– Kevin McPhedran, Cumberland

Volunteer Boards are increasingly burdened to effectively manage community trail networks.  This workshop utilizes a globally renowned process tailored to the non profit trail association.  Starting with the Visioning process, we anchor the workshop by first creating a Mission & Vision.  Working towards identifying goals and objectives, we are able to create an Action Plan that is derived from prioritized tasks, identified in the workshop, that best serve your Vision.  Using a customized SWOT/TOWS analysis, we create a Strategic Planning document driven by the specific needs of the organization to support your future success.

APPLICABLE FOR: All Trail Associations

field training

Field sessions provide invaluable hands-on learning opportunities for participants to become familiar with current professional building standards, management strategies and crucial safety protocols. Choose from any of the modules below or we can work with you to customize a session that includes a combination of skills.  
Maximum participants: 6

Structure Construction
Trail Alignment & Construction
Trail & Structure Assessment
Trail Restoration, Realignment & Site Restoration
Hazard Identification & Risk Mitigation


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A seasoned professional in trail planning, design & building, Mark has worked with all level of professionals throughout the province of British Columbia and beyond, including governing Land Managers, seasonal work crews, bike park construction teams, Universities, First Nations groups and many diverse stewardship groups including preservation societies, hiking & biking groups. Mark conceived and co-authored "A Community Driven Model for Sustainability" in 2012, creating long term solutions based upon the Social, Economic and Environmental needs of communities, leading to creative strategies that are cost effective, minimize maintenance & impact while managing risk and building healthy communities.  

Mark led efforts on Vancouver's North Shore since 2009 to restore over 70kms of severely degraded trail through his creation and management of the highly successful Trail Adoption Plan (TAP) and the original North Shore Arc'teryx Trail Builder Academy. He has managed, trained and led teams of professional and volunteer builders on a number of critical trail rehabilitation projects and new construction.

Working with Forest Management students at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT)  in 2015, Mark collaborated to develop best practices for site restoration and ecological revitalization. He continues his work to create effective resource management strategies including evolving assessment protocols. Most recently, Mark worked with Tara Llanes to create barrier free adaptive MTB Construction Guidelines.  In 2018, Mark created a series of construction schematics for advanced TTFs, now available in the Level II field guide.  Mark is a certified professional in Danger Tree Assessment and Chainsaw Safety, including employee and volunteer safety management. A trail builder in his own right, Mark has built and designed climbing trails, multi use trails, advanced TTFs, aMTB, XC to DH trails for MTB. He continues to work with all layers of government to design trail networks, assess existing trails, manage risk and create strategic action plans to support the Vision of the BC Provincial Trails Strategy: “A world-renowned, sustainable network of trails, with opportunities for all, which provides benefits for trails users, communities and the province.”

Continually refining the principles of the Trail Triage system, his work continues to advance management strategies in the outdoor resource sector with an emphasis on Risk Management. Creating the Sustainability Equation concept, as introduced in the Level II course, his work pursues a comprehensive and relevant perspective to create long term, balanced strategies.