Increasing and improving access to natural spaces and outdoor sporting activities

The Trail Centres act as physical spaces that increase and improve access to physical activities in nature, contributing to physical and mental well-being.


Their carefully chosen locations in proximity to nature (forests, water, and trails) help establish freely accessible, round-the-clock meeting places and start-points for outdoor sporting activities. As some are located close to urban areas, they also provide a gateway from urban to natural environments. 


Their combination as an all-in-one clubhouse, provider of service facilities, and meeting and training space, makes them ideal sites for local sports associations to use, as well as un-affiliated groups or individuals. This provides a space for socialising within, and between, sports and promotes relationship-building amongst users and with local sports associations.


Providing access to service facilities participation in outdoor sports activities (e.g. bicycle pumps and cleaning stations; covered training space; functional training equipment (stairs, monkey bars, TRX, etc.); storage space for equipment; and changing rooms/showers/toilets). As sites for borrowing equipment (e.g. map and compass, roller skis, SUP boards, etc.), the centres also encourage people to try new activities in nature in an affordable manner. 

  • The choice of location: trail centres must be near natural environments conducive to outdoor activities. Building them on the outskirts of urban areas, yet still close to nature, provides ideal gateways to nature. Analysis of recreational opportunities, infrastructure, terrain, etc. helps determine ideal locations.
  • Correctly determining the functions and services to be provided by the trail centres to best-meet users’ needs.
  • Organising workshops with stakeholders allowed these to discuss and determine user needs as well as which functions trail centres needed to provide to accommodate these needs. This shaped the trail centres’ different designs and helped to determine the core facilities that centres had to provide, as well as the additional facilities specific to community needs or interests.
  • Participatory workshops also ensured that trail centres provided access to activities and areas that could be appealing to users – both to those practicing outdoor activities as well as to those who might be interested in discovering new nature-based outdoor activities. 
  • Choosing to locate some centres near urban areas was also important for improving urban populations’ access to nature.
  • Providing information about activities such as walking, running, and cycling trails (i.e. length, difficulty, the type of terrain, etc.) is helpful for encouraging people to undertake nature-based sporting activities, particularly those who may be less familiar with the local area or a specific activity.