An essential element of interpretive trails is managing the context within which messages are delivered.
The interpretation trail is telling a story and like all stories it needs a defined context - a beginning, a middle and an end.
At the same time however it must still provide a series of stand alone entities for users who may connect with the trail at random points along its length.
Managing this duality on interpretive trails requires careful thought, planning and landscape design.
Just as trailheads have long played a central role in the delivery of an interpretive trail experience, so too must the creation of nodes be considered in provided essential stepping stones along which the user can progress.
A node is not defined by the place where you might happen to stick in a sign.
Rather it is a considered space where you invite the user to step aside from their journey and take in the material on offer in a defined setting.
This approach highlights the essential role that landscape design must play as the bedrock upon which the trail experience is delivered.
Even in interpretation trail settings where cost limitations allow little if any intervention, the principle still holds.
It ensures consideration is given to the comfort and safety of the user connecting with the message ensemble. Along a multi user pathway open to bikes for example it can also play a crucial role in OH&S considerations.
Clearly defined nodes reinforce the coherent, connected nature of the interpretive trail experience on offer.