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Central Iowa Trails Communication Master Plan


Participants in the Central Iowa Trails initiate design, build and maintain trails in central Iowa in partnership with city, county, state and private landowners. It wanted to create wayfinding and a branding identity to promote visual consistency across the trails for runners, bikers and hikers.
The maps, signage and other wayfinding components needed to stand out and make a statement, emphasize the identity of existing trails, detail important and unique facts, and provide a feeling of uniformity across the trail system.


Shive-Hattery began by laying out a plan for the different types of signs needed, including explanations about each sign’s design and function. Signage types include trail markers, on-trail and off-trail directional signs, and information panels and hubs.
Each participating municipality, county and organization appointed one person to participate in the Central Iowa Trails Communication Planning Group; Shive-Hattery worked closely with this group of volunteers, county conservation officers, and city government officials. The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation was also involved in the project, providing technical advice, marketing and promotion services and education for Central Iowa Trails.
Graphic design guidelines for marketing and communication were also provided by Shive-Hattery for trail access points, wayfinding and place/trail names. These guidelines address theme, content, graphics, layout, color palette, typography and iconography for resources such as maps, trail information and facts, emergency information and directional images. Emphasis was placed on providing visual assistance for trail users so they can easily find desired points of access.
The logo uses a modern combination of black, gray and green with a cutout image of a trail embedded into the center of an open circle. That image is used across all Central Iowa Trails signs, delivering effective, uniform communication.


Central Iowa Trails now has a comprehensive communications plan that guides the consistent use of signage, maps and electronic media for municipalities, counties, and organizations involved in developing central Iowa trails. This brand identity also provides guidelines for future trail marketing and communication projects.
The new trail signage improves wayfinding, giving bikers, runners, walkers and hikers helpful information to improve the trail experience.
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