Documenting the hours of labor it takes to cut (and perhaps plan and advocate) trails into existence is simple enough. However, attempting to capture the magic and nature of trails in pixels and words is difficult. Some things, if not most things, are better experienced in the real world not pixels and words. In spite of this short-coming, there are stories and information on this website that are meant to inspire and educate trail users and enthusiasts. Beyond that, another purpose of this site is to help me remember. I no longer have to scour the web or books, or not as much, this is my library if I ever need it, yours too.

In addition to the above, this site houses “trail science” items meant for the layman, professional, or enthusiast wondering what’s involved in the trail building process. By “professional,” I mean the trail purveyors involved in the details of seeing trails into existence, from planning, to building, to caring for trails.

Some of these professionals reach a point in their lives where they may specialize in one (or many) aspects of trails…I’d call these people “Trailologists,” as they have elevated what they produce into a trail science mixed with art, or “Trailology.” They, as well as countless trail users and volunteers (from novice to professional) have made trails into a religion, or practice of sorts– “trailists” practicing Trailism. This site is my contribution to Trailism, or the science and art of planning, constructing, using, and caring for or loving trails.

Trailism.com explores not just the all-to-real negative sides surrounding the “ism,” but also the trail journeys themselves, the science and art of design and construction, and the work and perhaps advocacy that make trails possible– from the most rustic and primitive trail(ism) to the most refined marvels of human construction (and Trailosophy). There is also a shop related to this site (partly to help me when trail work is slow). Information on the products and how that came to be is explained here. Welcome, and please leave some bread crumbs about your isms, ologys, osopys, and adventures on trails. 

Happy Trailism, Erik

Note: Some blog posts are narrative, some discursive, some strictly descriptive, just happens that way. Posts are sometimes written a week to several months, or even years, after the fact. Post dates (usually) correspond to the date the event occurred, not when it was written.

Disclaimer: This site is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to be advice (medical, physical, structural, design, or other…). Think for yourself, and make your own decisions on what you do with that information.

Thanks to Gardner the “Trail Hugger,” and the 00’s SDMBA clan who helped start this obsession…and to all those trailists since that I have interacted with. Happy trails!

> In the past decade the web has changed a lot, and so has this website. Other than several name changes, the site’s CMS has also changed. Some pages and posts are displayed with old formatting. Bear with me as I slowly troubleshoot and update the site to newer formatting.


Is “trailism” an actual word, or ism? An ism is typically an act, practice, process or condition. There are certainly doctrines, causes, and theories surrounding trails, and sometimes discriminatory ones. Trails are born, change over their lifespans, and sometimes die. Some trails have had a significant impact on human and non-human lives. As an “ism,” there can be some fuzzy denotative borders. Lets just say that in broad terms I think of trailism as an ism without borders, or adjectives, and more an ism leaning towards a general sense of being “pro-trail,” to borrow a phrase from a friend, and I’ll add, even if it sometimes means being against trails.


If you “do” trails, or trailism, are you a trailist in addition to an enthusiast of some sort practicing trailism? There are certainly doctrines, theories, philosophies, causes, practices or religions surrounding trails, not to mention “adherence to a system or a class of principles,” whether as a user, enthusiast, manager, or builder. “Trailists” exist. But as two dear friends quipped when I said we were trailologists, “I’m more into Trailscendentalism,” and the other said, “I’m a Trailosopher!”

Scroll to Top