Mark Flint Trails

Welcome to Mark Flint Trails Information Hub

I am glad you found my site! I hope this information helps you gain a better understanding of trail building principles and best practices, and my work.

I formed Southwest Trail Solutions in 2008, and created his consulting business to replace it in 2024. The change reflects a more personal approach to the services he provides.

While based in the Sonoran Desert, I worked in the Pacific Northwest, New England, Texas, Nevada – even a temperate jungle in Jalisco, on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. For the past 20 years has been committed to helping clients achieve their objectives as they plan, build and maintain trails. My 30+ years of experience has resulted in hundreds of miles of trails designed and built, often using innovative solutions to maximize user enjoyment while protecting resources. My commitment to sustainable trails has resulted in new design and construction techniques, many of which he developed himself and in conjunction with colleagues.

My core values include a profound reverence for the landscape and all of its components.

My services include trail assessmentsystem and trail designconstruction project management, and training staff and volunteers. He also can provide additional services as needed, including community involvement consulting and training.

I offers a wealth of  experience, value, and dependability. I work hard to attain the best possible result on every project, and have a roster of satisfied clients (along with thousands upon thousands of happy trail users), which indeed are the best measure of success.

Proven Success
When it comes to trails, getting it right the first time is critical. I always prioritize protecting resources while providing a positive outdoor experience, and doing so at a reasonable cost. 

Poorly designed and built trails visit headaches on future generations of land managers and trail users. Erosion and user-made alternatives can impact both biological and cultural resources. The cost of ongoing maintenance and reroutes can exceed the original design and construction cost – and perhaps more important, the enjoyment and escape that trails can provide may evaporate, or be diminished. Examples of poorly designed trails are all too easy to find, and most of them remain in place because land managers lack the resources, and occasionally the motivation, to do the work necessary to repair and reroute them.

Experience is crucial
I literally have thousands of hours of construction experience – both hand building and mechanized. I have designed hundreds of miles of trails in five states and Mexico.

Bringing the arts and sciences into a trail design is a complex process, and it takes experience to understand, recognize and merge them into a coherent and satisfactory result. The more experience a trail designer has the better the chances are that the route will be optimal for a sustainable trail that maximizes the user experience while ensuring that natural and cultural resources are protected.

Construction experience, in particular, is critical. A person who doesn’t know what it takes to build a trail can’t possibly know where it’s possible to build and where it’s not feasible; or how to make minor adjustments to reduce the complexity (and cost) of construction. Construction experience should include machine and hand-building, as well as making crib walls and switchback turns.

Resource Protection
Good trail design requires some knowledge of hydrology, soil science, biology, and history. I have worked with biologists, hydrologists and archaeologists to ensure resources are protected.

The art behind trail design is where the magic happens. A trail should provide visitors with “Wow!” moments. This can be a feature the trail takes them to, a view, a rock formation – any number of “gifts” bestowed by Nature, and waiting to be enjoyed.

“The value of Mark’s work on trails has been outstanding. He’s become the guru for sustainable trails in the West, and he’s been making a huge difference on our trails.” ~The late Steve Anderson, planning division manager for Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreatio

Read more about my passion for trails here (from the Arizona Daily Star and

“The art behind trail design is where the magic happens. A trail should provide visitors with “Wow!” moments. This can be a feature the trail takes them to, a view, a rock formation – any number of “gifts” bestowed by Nature, and waiting to be enjoyed.”

Mark Flint
Mark began designing and building trails as a volunteer beginning in the early 1990s – his first system design was in what is now the Bureau of Land Management Molalla River Recreation area, south of Portland, Oregon. Mark moved to Tucson in 1987, and immediately got involved in trail projects. His first major trail design project in Pima County was in 2004, 35 miles of the Arizona National Scenic Trail between Saguaro National Park and the Santa Rita Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. 

His volunteer efforts on that project included planning, organizing, fund-raising,  and supervising construction of the trail. This project, which took seven years, was done with volunteer labor from community volunteers, who contributed  more than 100,000 hours of their time. Mark designed and built numerous trails and trail parks for the county, including the award-winning Sweetwater Preserve Trails Park.