Ecological criteria, participant preferences and location models: A GIS approach toward ATV trail planning

Stephanie A. Snyder, Jay H. Whitmore, Ingrid E. Schneider, Dennis R. Becker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This paper presents a geographic information system (GIS)-based method for recreational trail location for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) which considers environmental factors, as well as rider preferences for trail attributes. The method utilizes the Least-Cost Path algorithm within a GIS framework to optimize trail location. The trail location algorithm considered trail impacts and benefits associated with water bodies, slope, land ownership, noise, trail separation, views, and rider preferences for vegetation types and loop trails. Alternative trails were generated to highlight the influence of different preferences for trail attributes and to demonstrate the capabilities of the Least-Cost Path algorithm as applied to trail location. The method shows promise for use in generating ATV trails, as well as other types of recreational trails, for consideration in recreational planning and analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)248-258
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the US Forest Service, Northern Research Station. The authors are grateful for data received from the MN DNR, and wish to thank Kent Gustafson for facilitating the focus groups and Anthony Schoenecker for his coordination and efforts with focus group data analysis. We are grateful to Dale Weigel of the Hoosier National Forest for advice on the Least-Cost Path algorithm in ArcGIS ® . We are also grateful to Robert Potts and Herbert Schroeder for providing constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.


  • Dijkstra algorithm
  • GIS
  • Least-cost path
  • Motorized recreation
  • Trail design


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