Many manuals and guidelines provide information for trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and management, and for signs. Below are several manuals and best practices guides and resources from government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Copies may be purchased or acquired from the sources indicated. U.S. Government publications may be purchased from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Superintendent of Documents, Mail Stop SSOP, Washington DC 20402-9328: https://bookstore.gpo.gov/.
U.S Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board: http://www.access-board.gov/. Documents include:
Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) (1991), sections 1-10 adopted as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards by the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) for buildings and facilities under titles II and III of the ADA, and the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) for transportation facilities under title II of the ADA, and by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for its Federal-aid projects; developed primarily for buildings and facilities on sites and poorly adapted to right-of-way or trail use.
Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS), adopted as Federal-aid standards by other operating administrations of the DOT. UFAS is also a permitted standard under title II; developed primarily for buildings and facilities on sites and poorly adapted to right-of-way or trail use.
ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines. Access Board guidelines completed in 2004, and currently pending adoption as ADA standards by USDOJ and USDOT. The General Services Administration (GSA) and US Postal Service (USPS) have adopted the new guidelines as Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) standards. They will replace UFAS and ADAAG when rulemaking is complete.
Public Rights-of-Way. Proposed accessibility guidelines for sidewalks, street crossings, and intersections, revised November 23, 2005. Recommended as good practice guidance by FHWA.
Accessible Sidewalks, Design Issues for Pedestrians With Disabilities (video): free on request to email@example.com.
Final Report of the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas. Proposes accessibility guidelines for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, beach access routes, and picnic and camping facilities.
More Access Board publications, handouts, and videos: http://www.access-board.gov.
The Access Board has a toll-free number for technical assistance on accessibility issues: 800-872-2253 or TTY 800-993-2822.
U.S. Department of Justice ADA Homepage: http://www.ada.gov/. The USDOJ has a toll-free number for technical assistance, including title II and title III technical assistance manuals: 800-514-0301 or TTY 800-514-0383.
Announcement of USDOT Accessibility Regulations: 49 CFR Part 37--Transportation Services for Individuals with Disabilities: Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 209 / Monday, October 30, 2006 / Rules and Regulations / Page 63263. HTML / PDF
Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access: A two-part report on pedestrian accessibility, produced for FHWA by Beneficial Designs Inc.
Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide (HTML / PDF), provides recommendations on how to design sidewalks, street crossings, intersections, shared use paths, and recreational pedestrian trails. See also Transmittal Memorandum, Detectable Warnings Memorandum (July 2004), Detectable Warnings Memorandum (May 2002), and Errata Sheet.
USDA Forest Service information: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/accessibility/.
Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines provide guidance for the USDA Forest Service to maximize accessibility while recognizing and protecting the unique characteristics of the natural setting of pedestrian trails.
Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines address outdoor developed recreation areas, including picnic and camping facilities, beach access routes, outdoor recreation access routes, and features commonly found at scenic viewpoints.
The Accessibility Guidebook on Outdoor Recreation and Trails is a user-friendly manual of best practices and design tips with photos and graphics on how to integrate accessibility into pedestrian trails and developed outdoor recreation areas.
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Accessible Intersections Toolbox and on-line course on accessibility.
FHWA National Highway Institute (NHI) Pedestrian Facility Design Course.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 1999 (AASHTO Bike Guide); $85.00 (AASHTO members $72). AASHTO, 444 North Capitol St NW, Washington DC 20001, phone 202-624-5800, fax 202-624-5806, https://bookstore.transportation.org/. The AASHTO Bike Guide is recommended as minimum guidelines for bicycle transportation facilities and shared use paths, but not for bicycle trails intended for rough terrain mountain bike use.
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Guide for the Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities, 2004 (AASHTO Pedestrian Guide); $90 (AASHTO members $75). AASHTO, 444 North Capitol St NW, Washington DC 20001, phone 202-624-5800, fax 202-624-5806, https://bookstore.transportation.org/. The AASHTO Pedestrian Guide is recommended as minimum guidelines for the construction and design of sidewalks and street crossings, and may be appropriate for pedestrian trails serving a transportation purpose.
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Trails and Waterways, Trail Planning, Design and Development Guidelines, 2006; $19.95, Minnesota's Bookstore, 660 Olive Street, St. Paul, MN 55155, phone 1-800-657-3757, fax 651-215-5733, http://www.comm.media.state.mn.us/bookstore/bookstore.asp. This publication is also available for download from the Minnesota DNR Trails & Waterways Publications page: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/trails_waterways/index.html. The result of several years of research, this manual contains guidelines for creating both motorized and non-motorized trails. This is a best practices guide for any local, county, regional or state government agency or private organization.
Pennsylvania Trail Design Manual for Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles:
HTML link to Pennsylvania Recreation Publications: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/publications/
PDF link to the Design Manual: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/PaTrailDesignManual.pdf
PDF link to So You Want to Build an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Facility?: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/brc/OHVfinal.PDF
United States Department of Agriculture--Forest Service, Accessibility Guidebook for Outdoor Recreation and Trails provides guidance on how to use the Forest Service Outdoor Recreation Accessibility Guidelines and the Forest Service Trail Accessibility Guidelines [note the disclaimers in these documents]. Documents available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/accessibility/.
United States Department of Agriculture--Forest Service, Equestrian Design Guidebook for Trails, Trailheads, and Campgrounds..
This Forest Service website will prompt you for a User name and Password. Type t-d for both.
United States Department of Agriculture--Forest Service, US Forest Service National Trail Drawings and Specifications.
United States Department of Agriculture--Forest Service, Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, 2004 Edition.
National Park Service, Sustainable Trails Website
United States Department of Transportation, Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned.
See more trail publications, including many from the USDA Forest Service, at https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/recreational_trails/publications/.
The National Trails System is the network of scenic, historic, and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968. See also the Bureau of Land Management National Scenic and Historic Trails Strategy and Work Plan.
Several private sector resources may be useful for trail design, construction, and maintenance (see Disclaimers). Below are several resources from nonprofit organizations:
The National Trails Training Partnership (http://www.NTTP.net) has resources on trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and management. It is hosted on the American Trails website.
The American Hiking Society has resources on trails, funding, volunteers, and National Trails Day.
The American Council of Snowmobile Associations has snowmobile resources.
The American Trails Cool Trail Solutions website is devoted to photos and graphics of SOLUTIONS to a wide array of trail-related problems: accessibility, bridges, highway and railroad crossings, water crossings, trail surfaces, trailside and trailhead facilities, and much, much more.
The International Association of Snowmobile Administrators has snowmobiling guidelines and safety resources.
The International Mountain Bicycling Association has a trails resources library.
The National Center for Bicycling and Walking has resources for pedestrian and bicycle transportation.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School has information on successful Safe Routes to School programs and strategies.
The National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council has resources for off highway vehicle recreation.
The Partnership for the National Trails System has resources on National Scenic and Historic Trails.
The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has resources for pedestrian and bicycle transportation.
The Professional Trailbuilders Association is North America's largest private sector group of trail specialists, professional trail contractors, designers, and consultants.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has resources on rail trails.
The Trails and Greenways Clearinghouse, a project of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy provides technical assistance, information resources, and referrals to trail and greenway advocates and developers.
Tread Lightly!® focuses its programs and efforts in education and restoration to further the goals of responsible and ethical recreation.
Park Guidelines for Off-Highway Vehicles, National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). ($45 plus $7 shipping and handling). NOHVCC, 427 Central Ave West, Great Falls MT 59404; 800-348-6487; Fax 406-454-9142.
Management Guidelines for OHV Recreation, National Off Highway Vehicle Conservation Council (NOHVCC). ($10, includes shipping and handling). NOHVCC, 427 Central Ave West, Great Falls MT 59404; 800-348-6487; Fax 406-454-9142.
Managing Mountain Biking: IMBA's Guide to Providing Great Riding, 2007, from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). $35 (IMBA Members 10% off). IMBA, PO Box 7578, Boulder CO 80306; 303-545-9011; fax 303-545-9026. Written for professional land managers, volunteers, and recreation providers alike, this 256-page book offers an essential collection of best practices for planning, designing, and managing successful trail networks and bike parks.
Recreational Horse Trails in Rural and Wildland Areas: Design, Construction, and Maintenance, by Gene W. Wood, with major contributions from 16 contributing authors from around the nation. Available from Clemson University's Forestry and Natural Resources web site at www.clemson.edu/forestres/. The order form is at http://www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/forestry/fnr_store.html.
Trails for the Twenty-First Century, 2nd Edition, 2001, available from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Bookstore, 1100 17th St NW 10th Floor, Washington DC 20036; Phone 202-331-9696. $29.95 plus shipping and handling. Guidelines for the construction and design of multiple-use trails, such as rail-to-trail conversions, other similar existing corridors, and bicycle transportation routes.
Trail Solutions: IMBA's Guide to Building Sweet Singletrack, from the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). $35 (IMBA Members $30). IMBA, PO Box 7578, Boulder CO 80306; 303-545-9011; fax 303-545-9026. Guidelines for sustainable backcountry trails, especially for mountain bike trails.
Wernex, Joe, Off-Highway Motorcycle & ATV Trails: Guidelines for Design, Construction, Maintenance, and User Satisfaction, 2nd Edition, Revised; 1994, American Motorcyclist Association, 13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington OH 43147; Phone 614-856-1900; Fax 614-856-1920.
The following manuals must be used for traffic control devices (signs, signals, and markings). Note that the ADA standards also include scoping and technical provisions for pedestrian signs.
United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Part 9 is for bicycle facilities, and is suitable for shared use paths.
United States Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Standard Highway Signs. This document provides detailed specifications for signs authorized in the MUTCD.
The International Association of Snowmobile Administrators (IASA) has developed standards for snowmobile trails based on research from the USDA Forest Service. The primary difference from the MUTCD is an allowance for smaller sized signs. See Guidelines for Snowmobile Trail Signing & Placement.
Conflicts on Multiple Use Trails, Federal Highway Administration, FHWA-PD-94-031. This report provides information about the causes of trail conflict and offers possible methods toward solutions.
The use of trade names and identification of firms, corporations, or sources is for the convenience of the reader; such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by the United States Government of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable.
The use of trade names and identification of firms, corporations, or sources does not constitute an endorsement or approval by the United States Government regarding liability for any claims, actions, demands, or suits which may arise by reason of any person relying on the information contained in their documents. Readers should note particular disclaimers in each publication.
The Department of Transportation/Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and other public agencies assume no responsibility for the interpretation or application of their respective manuals or guidelines by other than their own respective employees.
Resources from Nonprofit Organizations