National Arboretum Canberra

People walking on National Arboretum Recreational Trails

Recreational Trails Master Plan and Visitor Experience

In 2014 we were appointed by the National Arboretum Canberra to develop a master plan for a pedestrian, equestrian and cycling trail network. Our aim was threefold:

  1. Improve the visitor access of the forests of the arboretum. We’d get people out of their cars and into the forests.
  2. Provide for active and passive uses of the arboretum. We’d make use of the topography and encourage people to experience its forests in a variety of ways like walking, running and riding.
  3. Celebrate the landscape setting and unique history of the National Arboretum. We’d make this a venue that was perfect for visitors and for residents. The design would to take users on a journey with unfolding views and evolving forest stories.

The network of trails was designed to grow and evolve with the Arboretum, enhancing its appeal, encouraging return visitation and meeting the recreational needs of the community.

Functional analysis

We undertook a functional analysis reviewing how people used Arboretum, where the existing paths and desire lines were and how the staff undertook maintenance of the site. The analysis also included projections of expected user patterns and suburban growth on the western flanks of the arboretum. This analysis allowed us to illustrate the opportunities for improving access to and across the entire site for people with disabilities, for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians as well as for vehicular circulation.

Community and stakeholder consultation

We organised and managed the targeted stakeholder consultation for the project and supported the client in gathering community views on how to improve the trail network within the arboretum.

Design and design intent

The completed master plan takes into account the needs of all users as well as the national significance of the park and reinforcing the unique character of the National Arboretum, its setting and its views. The design specifically allows for a flexible and organic trail design that meets the needs of the intended users as well as enabling ongoing efficient and effective maintenance of the Arboretum.

The master plan has informed the National Arboretums’ business case and budgeting allowing them attract additional funding and engage a suitably qualified and experienced trail building organisation. The trails identified in the master plan are currently being progressively delivered. Phase 1 and 2 were completed in 2016 and 2018 respectively. Phase 3 is currently under construction (2019).