[Tagging] Trailhead tagging

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 23:35:04 UTC 2019

On Wed, Jan 2, 2019 at 2:58 PM Peter Elderson <pelderson at gmail.com> wrote:
> Designated starting point for multiple routes into a nature area.  There is a designed marking pole or stele, information boards, seats or benches, free parking space nearby.

> The operators are governmental bodies. They publish the lists on recreation websites. Each province has its own list.

What of these are required characteristics, and what are merely usual?
 A lot of trails in the US are operated by non-government volunteer
organizations, and there's no central registry. (Some of these
organizations are more organized than others.)

> Some other examples have been mailed by others, I thought?

Some of the examples were mine, and I thought that you had rejected
them as not being 'trailheads' because of a relative lack of
facilities - typically at most a few parking places, a notice board
and a guidepost.

So, a largish collection from my area, none of which quite meet your criteria:

I would imagine that
might qualify, since it has all the above (parking, information kiosk,
seats, and I presume that arch would qualify as a 'marking pole or
stele') - except that it's the jumping-off point for a single long
(220 km) route, not multiple routes.

1. I'd imagine that https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/16998968697
would be pretty marginal, since it's got just a wide compacted spot on
the roadside, with a notice board and register book, and it has no
name. It's very typical of what we'd call trailheads around here,
though. The notice board and register are present at the ones in
wilderness areas, because there's a legal requirement to register when
entering and leaving a wilderness area, and at the ones belonging to
the land conservancies (they use visitor statistics in grant
proposals, and ask that visitors register as a courtesy). For this
particular trail, the operator is a private conservancy, so it's

2. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/14041171575/ was another
example I gave earlier - the start of two or three trails, but in that
case it's just a hairpin turn on a 4WD road, with enough natural bare
shale to park a few SUV's, and paint-blazed trails leading off. I seem
to recall that one got the answer, 'not a trailhead - having one or
more foot trails heading off into a nature area doesn't make it a
trailhead.' The operator here is indeed the state, and the trailhead
is listed in a state database.

3. I'd imagine that https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/29381789461
would also not be a 'trailhead', because it lacks parking (it's lawful
and reasonably safe to park on the side of the road, but not right
there in the snowplow turn-around), seating, signage, a register, or
anything except for a paint-blazed trail. Still, it's an access point
to a major long-distance (600+ km) trail. The operator is a private
volunteer organization, and the trail there follows easements over
private land. I don't know of a database listing this trailhead,
although it shows up in the trail's guidebook.

4. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/19584241442 is even more
primitive. It's got a compacted verge big enough to park a few
vehicles, and that little sign on the tree says 'TRAIL HEAD PARKING.'
The notice board and register are a few km back on the road, because
that's a grandfathered road in a designated wilderness, and so drivers
have to register on entry. (There's a ranger station at the nearest
entry gate.) The trailhead is state-owned, operated by the Adirondack
Mountain Club, and listed in the state database. There are no
facilities other than the sign and the blazed trail departing.

5. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/10282292144/ lacks parking,
seating, or a notice board. (Again, there's possible roadside parking
not too far away, and I suppose you can sit on the highway guard
rail.) There is a notice board and a register, but because of problems
in the past with vandalism, they're about half a km into the woods
along that access trail. The operator is the state.

6. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/8463648046 has signage, and a
notice board, but only roadside parking and no seating. The access
trail from there is popular enough that the grass is well trodden down
in summer and there is an obvious snowshoe track in winter. The notice
board is disused. The operator is the county, which has no trailhead
database. The county doesn't require visitor registration, so there's
no book.

7. https://www.flickr.com/photos/ke9tv/28554220940 has an obvious
paint blaze and plastic trail marker. There is only roadside parking.
The notice board is clearly abandoned, and the register book is
nowhere to be found. The operator is the state, but this trailhead is
not in its list. The trailhead, however, does appear in the trail's

The only one with a toilet is the one by the Northville Arch. (There
may be a thunder box[1] somewhere near 4. I didn't look, not being in
need of one just then._

None of these would be in the National Park Service database that
someone thought was a register of all trailheads in the US.

So, what among these qualifies as a 'trailhead'?  All of them are
designated points from which a hike, ski or ride might start. Only one
(the Northville arch) has the full set of facilities that you list,
but it's among the volunteer-maintained ones, and I'm not sure whether
the landowner is the village, or one of the adjacent businesses. I
seem to recall that the arch was erected by the Chamber of Commerce (a
private consortium, as are Chambers of Commerce in general over here).
None of them has all the attributes you mention.

All of these, except for the first, are documented access points to
major trails, hundreds of km long, including the Appalachian Trail,
the Finger Lakes Trail, the New York Long Path, and the
Northville-Placid Trail. They're not local anomalies for minor nature
areas, they're pretty typical of wild-forest or wilderness trailheads.

[1] A thunder box might als be called a "loo with a view."
is typical. For some reason, I don't seem ever to have photographed
one myself.)

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