Turns for the Better: An Introduction to Climbing Turns & Switchbacks

Dates: Thursday, March 21 (afternoon), Friday, March 22 (8 am - 5 pm), and Saturday, March 23 (morning)
Cost: $325
Instructors: Christine Byl and Gabe Travis, Interior Trails, PTBA Member


When sited, laid out and built well, turns can be the highlight of a trail, providing aesthetics and flow. But they are often sited poorly, laid out wrong, and built without proper attention to grade, drainage and geometry. In this class we'll discuss turns as control points in the design process. We'll lay out switchbacks, and slope grade and entrenched climbing turns. Using basic layout tools, learn how to make your turns beautiful, low-maintenance and FUN.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand turn geometry

  2. Use turn locations as control points

  3. Site and lay out turns correctly for construction


Day 1: Half day: Discussion of layout principles & turns, including slides, diagrams, tables, photos, & hands-on exercises.

Day 2: Field Exercises: in small groups, get comfortable with layout tools and how siting turns fits into the design process. Practice laying out and staking turns in a variety of settings. Lots of on-site discussion as well as hands-on instruction for folks at all levels of experience.

Day 3: Half Day: Field Exercises & Assessment


Appropriate field gear for the weather. Expect to be outside on Day 2 & 3. We are in Colorado in March - please prepare for the unpredictable weather.


Christine Byl & Gabe Travis, co-owners of Interior Trails, have been building trails for more than 20 years. After 12 years working on federal trail crews in Glacier NP, Chugach NF and Denali NP, in 2008 they founded Interior Trails, specializing in sustainable trail design, layout, construction, consulting and training in Alaska. Christine & Gabe have layout and design to clients from across the country. They live on a few acres of tundra north of Denali National Park and spends as much time as possible in wild places by foot, bike, ski, boat and dog. For more information on Interior Trails, visit www.interior-trails.com.