How To Create Your Sign Plan
The family of roadway signs designed for the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail creates a unique opportunity for visitors. The signs help them find roads, trail segments, and sites where history was created. The brown background alerts travelers that there's an opportunity to explore the history ahead. The logo brands the signs as places on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. We hope you agree and that you will partner with the National Park Service (NPS) to help travelers find the national historic trail and explore our shared heritage! This web page is designed to assist you in doing just that. Try it and call us with any questions.
NEW! Steps to Road Signing (183 KB pdf)
Welcome to the NPS National Trails Intermountain Region (NTIR) sign plan template. This page will allow you to use a simple Google Earth KMZ-based format and position custom "placemark" icons within Google Earth to create your own sign plan for any given area of the national historic trail. We suggest using logical political jurisdictions such as city or county limits.
The sign plan template addresses the use of road signs. It is not for interpretive exhibits or pedestrian signs. (Contact us if you are interested in pedestrian trail signing needs. Carsonite post versions of many standard national historic trail hiking and pedestrian signs have been developed.)
The signs in your sign plan will all be on public roads except for site identification - entrance signs. For site identification - entrance signs, each site owner will need to work directly with NTIR staff as these signs tend to be custom.
The sign plan is the first step toward signing the trail and working with NTIR staff and others who may have jurisdiction over road sections. Sign plans developed using this template will primarily be used by trail association members and other trail partners. You will need to contact the NTIR before you begin so we are aware of your efforts and so we can work together in signing the trail.
Please note that use of these signs requires explicit approval by NTIR, because the signs include the federally protected Trail of Tears National Historic Trail logo.
As you begin, it is important to review the national historic trail family of signs and to understand the various sign types and how they are used. Once you have reviewed the sign types, you will be ready to create a sign plan. Keep in mind that signing will usually be in both directions of traffic so the signs are usually paired.
In order to implement your sign plan, it will be necessary to get approval from each road jurisdiction for all roads to be signed. To help facilitate approvals, complete the sign plan first and have it reviewed by the NTIR office. Download the sign agreement form here and have one signed by each (non-state) jurisdiction (90 KB Word). For signs on state department of transportation roads, use this form (96.5 KB Word). Signed forms should be sent to NTIR.
A Note About Sign Sizes and Reflective Quality
The national historic trail standard road sign size recommendation is 32 inches by 48 inches, except the Historic Site Name sign; it's generally 36 inches by 48 inches to accommodate the variety of potential site names.
Some signs have a secondary lower sign panel or arrows (refer to road signs in table below):
These signs are sized for low speed roads to accommodate a 4-inch minimum letter height in compliance with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is the primary guidance that governs all public roads in the United States. Conditions could exist in which local road jurisdiction may require a smaller or larger size sign. A larger sign will most likely be required for higher speed roads. Ultimately, the agency having jurisdiction over the road has the responsibility for providing direction on the size of the signs required.
They may also dictate the quality of reflective sheeting required for the signs, i.e. engineering or high intensity grade.
A Note About Sign Funding
Implementation of your sign plan will require finding funding to purchase the signs and installation hardware, and for labor costs associated with installation.
It is important to coordinate early with trail partners and NTIR to consider funding availability and options. Having a sign plan in place should facilitate funding.
Using Google Earth To Create Your Sign Plan
Google Earth combines satellite imagery and maps to help you see the world and beyond. The product is designed for use on newer computers with broadband or fast connections.
If you do not already have Google Earth on your computer, download the free Google Earth software from this link now:
Review these instructions. Once you complete this step in the process, you can click on the Google Earth icon (below) and make a sign plan with the KMZ file. It will help to have the instructions printed.
You have now loaded all the national historic trail standard sign symbols in the custom icons menu. You are ready to use them to add placemarks from the Add Placemark Button at the top of the Google Earth page. (While the default placemark is a yellow push pin, you will be using the sign symbols provided). Review the sign types to ensure you are using the correct type of sign at your location. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
SAVING YOUR SIGN PLAN FILE: