2.2.2 Boardwalks on Recreational Trails

Download a printable version of this section
The Requirements in this Section apply to:
Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly, and Designated Public Sector Organizations Private / Not-for-Profit Sector Organizations
Large Small
Yes Yes Yes
Regulation Reference:
80.12 - Boardwalks

Boardwalks are generally described as planked structures built close to the ground or over wet soil or water. They can allow people who use mobility aids or who have poor balance to traverse through wet or soft areas. The Standard provides organizations with minimum requirements for boardwalks on recreational trails.

The requirements in this section represent a baseline for accessibility. Organizations are free to exceed the minimum requirements and provide greater accessibility based on local need, existing topography design opportunities and budget realities.

It should be noted that this requirement does not mandate that recreational trails must include boardwalks.


The requirements of this Section apply to boardwalks located on newly constructed or redeveloped recreational trails that an organization intends to maintain.

Requirements for the Design of Boardwalks in Recreational Trails

Clear width
Minimum 1,000 mm.
Clear height
Minimum 2,100 mm headroom clearance above boardwalks.
Running slope
Boardwalks with running slopes steeper than 1:20 (5%) must be designed as ramps and meet the applicable requirements. See Section 2.2.3 Ramps in Recreational Trails.
Must be firm and stable.
Surface openings
Openings in the boardwalk must not allow the passage of an object more than 20 mm in diameter.
Edge protection
Provide edge protection that is minimum 50 mm high.

Better Practice Considerations

Clear width
Consider a minimum width of 1,800 mm to allow wheelchairs and scooters to comfortably pass. If boardwalk is less than 1,800 mm wide, consider providing 1,800 mm x 1,800 mm passing/turn-around spaces, spaced no more than 30 metres apart to minimize the distance someone in a mobility aid needs to back up if they encounter someone else in a mobility aid.
Clear height
Consider providing a minimum of 2,300 mm head room clearance above boardwalks, where tree growth may reduce head room.
Running slope
Gentle running slopes are recommended, to minimize the amount of strength and stamina required to use the boardwalk.
Surface openings
Consider openings that will not allow passage of an object more than 12 mm in diameter, to further reduce the possibility of small wheels, cane tips and shoe heels getting caught in openings, grilles and gratings. Position elongated openings approximately perpendicular to the direction of travel.
Consider the potential effects erosion and frost may have, particularly related to transitions between the boardwalk and sidewalks/ walkways. Refer to change in level requirements specified in Section 2.1.1 Sidewalks and Walkways for guidance on how to make transitions to a boardwalk more accessible.


Illustrated Technical Guide to the Design of Public Spaces