Healthy Shorelines for Healthy Lakes

Pathway or Stairs?

What’s the Best Way to Access my Shoreline


We need to access our shorelines for a number of reasons, from swimming, boating and fishing to relaxing on the dock. But did you know that how we access our shorelines is important in protecting them against erosion? Limiting foot traffic to one area can help to protect a shoreline’s often sensitive soils and banks.

You should also consider whether the slope to your shoreline is fairly gentle, moderate or quite steep. This will determine if you should build a pathway, what you should use to cover the pathway or if you should build a set of stairs.

Determine if you should build a pathway or stairs based on shoreline slope.


Gentle Slope

Pathway can be curved or straight. Tread materials could be pine needles/leaves, woodchips & crushed gravel, or erosion control mix.


Moderate Slope

Pathway should be curved. Tread materials could be woodchips & crushed gravel and/or erosion control mix.


Steep Slope

Pathway should be curved. Tread materials should be erosion control mix, although in this situation it’s better to have stairs that are raised with open backs.


If the slope to your shoreline is steep, then stairs offer a safe and easy way to access your shoreline.

But once again, there’s more to know!

Tread Spacing

Your stairs should be raised with open backs and the tread boards should be about 2.5 cm apart. This will allow rain to fall between the boards instead of running off your stairs and into your lake.

It will also allow sunlight to reach the vegetation below so it can grow and protect against erosion.


You can also add a few landings to offer a place to rest and enjoy the beautiful view!

All it takes are a few simple “steps” to improve your shoreline access while benefiting nature!

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