Senior Honors Projects, 2010-2019

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Department of Integrated Science and Technology


Carole Nash

Zachary Bortolot


Public mountain biking and hiking trails can pose challenges to trail-user safety. The purpose of this project is to improve the overall safety factors on the Massanutten Western Slope, in eastern Rockingham County, Virginia, where a 15-plus mile trail system has been made available to a broad range of users. Owned by Massanutten Resort, the trail system is in a remote, forested area frequented by local off-road cyclists, runners, hikers, as well as seasonal tourists and is maintained by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC). This multifaceted project, which integrates ESRI ArcGIS, Trimble Pathfinder, USDA Soil Survey Geographic (SSURGO) data, and the National Land Cover Database (NLCD), has the common goal of increasing the overall safety of the trail system through assessing both environmental impact in trail construction and use, as well as accessibility for first responders. Trail erosion risk was modeled in ArcGIS based on the variables outlined in the Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE). The factors of soil erodibility, slope, and vegetation cover type were used to assess erosion risk and identify areas where current trails are likely to erode and where future construction should be avoided by SVBC. Field collection of GPS locational data using a survey-grade field rover was undertaken to update trail marker signage, provide accurate locational maps for rescue efforts, and test the validity of the erosion model through ground-truthing. Cellular strength data was collected to identify areas along the trails where cellular coverage may be weak. Ultimately, first responders will be provided with maps of the trail system labeled with geographic coordinates and that identify access points.



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