We want paths that are durable (for high-traffic), low-maintenance, water permeable, and economical. Always looking for locally available materials, we decided to go with woodchips, a resource that is available in plenty each spring as a byproduct of the tree pruning the local power company performs around the power lines. Big thanks to UPPCO and Asplundh for the primo chips and the free delivery.
After some belly-aching about using a petroleum-based product, we decided to go with a commercial-grade weed barrier made from recycled plastic bottles. It took some searching online to find one made from recycled materials but we did and we were able to order it through our local hardware store (Risto's Hardware) for cheaper than we could buy it online.
Being careful to lay the weed barrier with adequate overlap at the seams and around the edges we secured it in place using landscaping staples. Then the woodchips are piled on, and on, and on in a 4-6 inch layer.