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Cost Estimates

Estimating trail construction cost
Estimating trail design cost
Rough cost estimate for your project

Bridge and trail. Foothills Nature Preserve, City of Palo Alto, CA.

"How much does trail work cost?" is our most common question. We can often provide a rough estimate based on an informal phone discussion about your project or from info you provide in our Rough Cost Estimate Request Form below.

To develop a firm and accurate project cost, however, depends on so many factors (see below) that we almost always need to see the site and discuss the project with you in detail. We also respond to Contract Solicitations (requests for bids) and Requests for Proposals (RFPs), both of which usually require a site visit and an initial face-to-face meeting.

Please contact us

We work with all government agencies (federal, state, and local), private landowners, developers, land trusts, and non-profits. We invite you to contact us to informally discuss your project, request a proposal, or solicit a bid. Even if you're just "thinking about it" or don't have a complete plan, we're pleased to speak with you and assist in any way we can.

Estimating trail construction cost

Factors affecting construction cost include, but are not limited to:

  • Trail purpose, desired look & feel, type and amount of trail use
  • Trail length
  • Trail width
  • Trail surface type (native soil, crushed stone, woodchips, etc.)
  • Soil type, especially for unstable soils
  • Amount of rock, nature of work involving rock
  • Site hydrology (surface and subsurface water)
  • Amount of wet areas or areas needing hardened tread or advanced drainage work
  • Topography (floodplain, wetland, level, near-level, gentle slopes, moderate slopes, steep slopes, rocky, other)
  • Ecosystem/climate
  • Existing site vegetation, especially tree/brush density and needs for tree/brush/stump removal
  • Type and amount of drainage crossings
  • Trail structures (labor plus materials for bridges, boardwalk, puncheon, turnpike, signs, extensive constructed drainage, culverts, retaining walls, risers or steps, drainage dips, waterbars, erosion control, etc.)
  • Extent of site revegetation, if any
  • Needs/requirements to control runoff and sediment during construction
  • Need to protect/work around sensitive site features and areas
  • Specific protections for threatened and/or endangered species, other wildlife/habitat restrictions
  • Types of equipment and tools needed
  • Amount of hand work vs. machine work
  • Suggested work season or other time limitations/requirements (which could be restricted for environmental protection or other reasons)
  • Distance and ease of access of work site from nearest truck access point (for getting trail equipment to the site)
  • Mobilization (cost of traveling to/from our base to your site)
  • Frequency and logistics of meetings, inspections, site visits
  • Extent and nature of trail design assistance provided (see below)
  • Obliteration of existing trails, if any

Estimating trail design cost

Trail design requires learning about the site and finding the most workable relationship between the site, the client, the budget, and what trail visitors expect. Detailed design also includes designing for construction and envisioning the entire final trail in advance. It also requires planning to accommodate proposed trail use and to minimize the need for future maintenance. Hence trail design cost estimation factors consider most of the above trail construction factors, plus time needed to:

  • Learn about and explore the site, including discussions and site visits with the client and interested others
  • Find, evaluate, examine, and record alternate routes on maps and/or on the ground
  • Work out and record the detailed design and specifications for selected routes
  • Determine need for, design, measure, record specifications for, and estimate costs of trail structures
  • Map and/or flag the trail on the ground
  • Record the design for third-party construction

Rough cost estimate for your project

For fastest service, please call us. If you prefer, you can fill out the following form with your project info. The more you can tell us about your project, the more accurately we can calculate a rough cost. NOTE THAT THIS IS ONLY A ROUGH COST—WE WILL HAVE TO VISIT THE SITE BEFORE WE CAN MAKE A BID OR A CLOSER ESTIMATE.

Rough Cost Estimate Request Form

Asterisks indicate required fields

Project Info

Please provide as much info as you can about your project—the more we know, the more accurately we can work with you. If you are an agency and have prepared a contract solicitation, please indicate this.

Brief description (1-2 paragraphs) of the contract/project including project type; types of work; major parameters such as trail length, width and tread material, etc. For aspects that should be mentioned, please see the Checklist at the bottom of this form

Is there a pre-bid meeting? If so, when and where?

Suggested work season or other time limitations/requirements

If not mentioned above, please list restrictions such as designated wilderness, types of construction equipment allowed, site access restrictions, protections for threatened and/or endangered species, other wildlife/habitat protections, wetlands, riparian areas, fragile sites, unstable soils, etc.

1. If all land and project aspects are not under your control, please explain. 2. If all necessary permits and funding are not obtained, please explain. 3. If there are partnerships with other agencies/entities or volunteers, please explain. 4. Are contractors required to have particular licensing (such as an in-state contracting license for state projects)? If so, please explain.

Web site, web page or contact for contract solicitation packet, etc. We encourage you to email photos, maps, other documentation, etc. to or by mail to our address. You'll see more info on this after you submit the form.

If you would like trail and/or project design assistance, please explain.

Any other comments

Checklist

If not well-known or expected, did you mention:

  • Trail purpose, desired look & feel
  • Types (hike, horse, bike, OHV, etc.) and amount of trail use
  • Trail tread material (native soil, crushed stone, asphalt, concrete, woodchips, etc.)
  • Trail structures (bridges, boardwalk, puncheon, turnpike, signs, extensive constructed drainage, culverts, retaining walls, risers or steps, drainage dips, waterbars, erosion control, etc.)
  • Topography (floodplain, wetland, level, near-level, gentle slopes, moderate slopes, steep slopes, rocky, other)
  • Site vegetation (wetland, riparian, grassland, savanna, light (open) forest, moderate forest, thick forest, etc.)
  • Ecosystem/climate
  • Site and soil stability, water problems