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Trail Management Tools

Forest Service trail managers apply standardized concepts and tools to administer the over 160,000 miles of National Forest Service system trails. These concepts help trail managers across all forest and grasslands to design, construct, and maintain trails in a similar way that provides a consistent user experience.

The trail management tools also support implementation of the Forest Service’s National Trail Strategy and 10-Year Trail Shared Stewardship Challenge.

Additional trail management resources are available on the Forest Service Technology and Development publication page and through our partners at American Trails.


Trail Fundamentals and Trail Management Objectives

A trail through a forest of aspen trees during the fall season.
Courtesy photo by Eric Greenwood

Trail Fundamentals include five key concepts that are cornerstones of Forest Service trail management: Trail Type, Trail Class, Managed Use, Designed Use, and Trail Design Parameters. Trail Fundamentals are individually prescribed for each National Forest System Trail via Trail Management Objectives (TMOs), which document the intended purpose and management of each trail.




Forest Service Saw Program

Two people using a long crosscut saw on a fallen tree.
Courtesy photo by Cherry Deirdre.

The Forest Service National Crosscut and Chainsaw Program manages the use of chainsaws and crosscut saws on National Forest System lands. Forest Service employees, volunteers, partners, and other cooperators can now access consistent training, evaluation, and certification. A highlight of the new policy enables volunteer, partner, and cooperator groups to train, evaluate, and certify their members.




Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys (TRACS)

Two people standing in front of four snowmobiles reviewing a map. Two others in the background with one sitting on a green and black snowmobile.
Courtesy photo by Edward Klim.

TRACS is the Forest Service’s required methodology for conducting trail inventory, condition assessment and prescriptions for National Forest System trails. TRACS provides standardized terminology, business rules and data fields which are integrated with the agency’s corporate database and used for planning, management, cost estimation, and reporting.




Standard Trail Plans and Specifications

An improved gravel covered trail in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
Courtesy photo by Jeffrey Wickett.

The Forest Service Standard Trail Plans and Specifications are intended for use in the design, construction, and maintenance of National Forest System trails and trail bridges. These plans and specifications are also available for use by other federal, state, and local agencies, communities, trail partners, volunteers, and other entities.




For More Information

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