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10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge

A trail along the mountain ridge in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Image by Matthew Tharp.
Call to Action!

You are invited to join others in the trail community, including Forest Service employees, partners, volunteers, contractors, permittees, communities, and Indian Tribes, to help care for trails.

What is the Trail Challenge?

The Trail Challenge helps carry out the National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System and the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act. It is also a framework that focuses the collective energy and resources of the trail community over the next 10 years to care for trails. We believe that by working more closely together, we will achieve greater capacity to manage and maintain trails, and ultimately more miles of well-designed, well-maintained, and well-suited trails that support recreation use today and into the future.

Trail Challenge Goals

  1. Increase collective trail workforce capacity.

  2. Increase trail sustainability.

Three people wearing yellow hard hats moving large stones with a net across rocky terrain.

Why is the Trail Challenge needed?

The Forest Service manages 160,000 miles of trails, including the thousands of miles of nationally designated scenic, historic, and recreation trails. Despite the great work happening in support of trails, current agency staff, partners, and volunteers can’t keep up with required maintenance or satisfying community demand. In addition, many National Forest System trails are historically not well-designed or well-located. These unsustainable trails—and the proliferation of unauthorized or user-created routes—are draining agency resources.

How is the Trail Challenge structured?

Graphic of trails phases in the shape of a mountain, with phase 1 being at the bottom, phase 2 in the middle, and phase 3 at the top

Implementation is divided into 3 phases: Launch and Learn, Hitting Our Stride, and Peak Performance. Progress is measured by Forest Service employees, partners, and volunteers working together to accomplish annually updated action items and nine metrics.

The action items are described in the Trail Challenge guidebook and will be updated each year.

How to get involved?

Forest Service employees are encouraged to talk with their line officers (or agency decision makers) to gain support and prioritize action items. Other trail community members are encouraged to join a local trail club or volunteer organization to get involved. If a trail club or volunteer organization isn’t available in the area, this might be a good opportunity to start one or help bring various groups together.

cover for FY 24 Guidebook
Download the Guidebook 1.86MB pdf 


Cover page of 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge
Download the 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge, An Overview (.pdf, 915KB)

Key Elements and Concepts

Click the thumbnail images below to see larger versions of the graphics and tables from the Trail Challenge documents.

For More Information

If you have questions or comments, please contact Forest Service Trail Management.