Visitors may wish to explore the outdoors on foot, on horseback, on cross-country skis or by all-terrain bicycles. Some may wish to navigate by themselves using map and compass. Others, perhaps a majority, may need a path or trail to follow.
Before considering trail provision it is worth deciding whether a trail is needed. Creating a surfaced path with its accompanying disturbance may have an adverse effect on the spirit of a place, removing the sense of wildness and introducing an atmosphere of tameness and over-obvious evidence of management. The trail might also disturb fragile habitats and increase pressure by concentrating visitors in one area. If no trails are provided then erosion and unplanned path development may occur anyway unless people are managed so as to disperse their approach and reduce pressure. Guidance to visitors on the fragility of areas and the need to take care might be needed.