The new signage is intended to help give hikers peace of mind that they have not inadvertently switched trails.

While the majority of visitors to the Sodalis Nature Preserve are familiar with its paved trail, only the more adventurous investigate its approximately 6 miles of off-road trails that weave their way through the hillsides. This winter the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Department is taking steps to make the unpaved trails more appealing to even the casual hiker.

“This winter we’ll be working on signage on the off-road trail,” said Andy Dorian, director of the department, during the Park Board’s November meeting. “All of them (off-road trail signs) will be color coded and correspond with the color on a map.

“We are building them in-house and expect to have them up in early spring.”

The new signage is intended to help give hikers peace of mind that they have not inadvertently switched trails.

“The color coding will help so you’ll know you’re still on (the) ‘red’ (trail),” said Dorian.

Sodalis’ off-road trail system presents some unique challenges to the Parks Department, according to Dorian.

“The off-road trails thing is complicated because when you’re developing a trail system you’re usually blazing a path. Not very often do you get a trail system where there’s trails literally everywhere, so it’s somewhat complicated,” he said. “As you block one thing off then you get people aggravated at you. But we’re blocking it off on purpose because you don’t want people going off property and into somebody’s back yard. It is somewhat of a challenge.”

Not every path in Sodalis will be marked.

“Some of those areas are pretty steep. Not everybody is going to be able to go up and down those,” said Dorian. “Safety is our biggest concern.”

In addition to being different colors, all the arrow signs on the marked off-road trails are going to be numbered as well.

“If God forbid something happened on one of the off-road trails you’ll be able to say ‘I’m just past sign two,’” said Dorian.

Signage won’t be limited to just the most popular unpaved trails.

“We are going to do the back of the woods as well,” said Dorian. “Most people don’t go back there, but just in case. There’s really no reference back there at all if you were to fall and get hurt.”

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com