Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)


Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning

Committee Chair(s)

Sean E. Michael


Sean E. Michael


Keith M. Christensen


Steve W. Burr


The discipline of long-distance non-motorized backcountry recreation trail planning and design has traditionally been defined by ad hoc, volunteer-based approaches. Despite the notable physical, affective, and cognitive benefits to individuals and populations derived from utilizing such trails, little progress has been made in framing a rigorous and contemporary method for their planning and design. Without such a framework, attempts in the field may fail to engage the advantages associated with the application of ordered process, cross-disciplinary proficiency, and geospatial technology that are continually evolving in the professional and academic landscape architecture, environmental planning, and natural resource management fields. This study addresses the lack of contemporary, process-driven planning and design techniques for the creation of long-distance non-motorized backcountry recreation trails through both research- and application-based approaches. The first portion of the study examines three sections of National Scenic Trails through the lens of sustainable development. These study sections define patterns and reveal relationships; information that is then applied to frame a contemporary approach to the planning and design of long-distance non-motorized backcountry recreation trails. The practical application of the framework in support of the proposed development of such a trail corridor in the Wasatch Range of southern Idaho and northern Utah completes the study.