Play Core Play Trail Pockets

Planning Play Pockets for Pathways: 10 Critical Considerations

Play Pockets are the primary means for infusing linear play value into pathways by intentionally designing them to stimulate play through a sense of adventure, exploration, and discovery for the whole family in nature.

Spacing - Are play pockets spaced at appropriate distances apart (5 to 10 minutes or approximately 300 to 500 feet) to encourage movement and discovery?

Setback - Are play pockets alternated and set back from the main pathway sufficiently to minimize conflicts with fast-moving bicycles?

Play value - Have a variety of play elements been included to afford for children many types and forms of play (physical, social, emotional, cognitive, etc.)

Loose parts and sensory stimulation - Have surrounding plants been selected to provide natural loose parts to support children's socio-dramatic play and discovery along the way? Have the play equipment, artifacts, and adjacent plantings been selected to maximize sensory stimulation of users of different abilities?

Learning - Does family-friendly signage promote play and extend learning in meaningful ways?

Usability - Are play pockets designed to accommodate children and families of different ages and abilities in meaningful activities?

Caregiver comfort - Are play pockets shady with ample, comfortable seating for two or three family groups to relax and supervise while children play?

Amenities - Have appropriate amenities (bike racks, seating. trash receptacles, drinking fountains, etc.) been considered to offer additional affordances for play so that families play longer and return often?

Safety - Does the play pocket equipment and safety surface in use zones meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) / Consumer Protection Safety Commission (CPSC) standards and guidelines? Are the pockets visible for supervision and easily maintained?

Naturalization and tree protection - Is the existing and/or installed landscape outside of use zones but as close as possible, so users feel immersed in nature? Are play pocket installations far enough away from the root zones of existing mature trees?

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Explore how to integrate play into nature through a pathway network and encourage more and longer visitation to the trail network.

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