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The list of publications and other resources found on this page has been compiled to help provide quick access to valuable trail references. You will find links to publications that provide insight into the planning and decisionmaking process common to building a successful recreational trails program that focuses on accessibility, safety, and good environmental practices.
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On this page:
The Federal Highway Administration is cooperating with the U.S. Forest Service to provide Forest Service publications and videos to the public. Please see the Trail Publications Order Form to order those publications and videos which are available in hard copy.
Technology & Development Program Trail Publications
Available in HTML and PDF formats
Forest Service Technology & Development Program Recreation Publications Search
Available in PDF format; some available in HTML format
Mechanized Trail Building Equipment Web site
Designed to provide useful information about small mechanized equipment to trail designers, builders, and maintenance personnel.
Trail Bridge Catalog
Log on and follow link to Pubs then to Recreation. This website is intended to help land managers and engineers select trail bridge types, decks, rail systems, abutment systems, and materials.
Trail Fundamentals include five concepts that are cornerstones of effective trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, and management.
Manuals and Guides for Trail Design, Construction, Maintenance, and Operation, and for Signs
This document lists many manuals and best practices guides and resources for trail planning, design, construction, maintenance, operation, and management (including for signs).
A Guide to Transportation Decisionmaking
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) created A Guide to Transportation Decisionmaking to answer transportation project-related questions.
Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access
FHWA's two-part report on pedestrian and trail accessibility, produced for FHWA by Beneficial Designs Inc.
Note: these two reports were published in 1999 and 2001, respectively. Accessibility guidelines and practices, and construction and maintenance techniques have evolved, and more current information may be available in other reports. For example, related information is provided in the US Access Board's Special Report: Accessible Public Rights of Way Planning and Designing for Alterations and other reports available at http://www.access-board.gov/guidelines-and-standards/streets-sidewalks/public-rights-of-way.
Part 1, Review of Existing Guidelines and Practices (1999), lays out the history and the practices of applying accessibility concepts to sidewalks and pedestrian trails. (Out of print, available online only)
Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide (2001), provides recommendations on how to design sidewalks, street crossings, intersections, shared use paths, and recreational pedestrian trails. (Out of print, available online only)
See also Transmittal Memorandum, Detectable Warnings Memorandum (July 2004), Detectable Warnings Memorandum (May 2002), and Errata Sheet.
Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings – an informational guide;
Providing Accessible Sidewalks and Street Crossings Brochure
These two related documents summarize the information found in Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access. They focus on some of the emerging accessibility issues and design parameters that affect sidewalk and street crossing design and operation. To order, see http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/ped_bike/ped_bike_order/.
The Final Report of the Regulatory Negotiation Committee on Accessibility Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas
Proposes accessibility guidelines under the Americans with Disabilities Act for trails, outdoor recreation access routes, beach access routes, and picnic and camping facilities.
Recommends accessibility guidelines for sidewalks, street crossings, and intersections.
ADA and ABA Accessibility Guidelines
Accessibility guidelines for buildings.
National Trail Surfaces Study
The National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University-Bloomington has released a report that evaluates and compares the firmness and stability of different trail surface materials, as proposed by the US
Characteristics of Emerging Road and Trail Users and their Safety
Design professionals can use the results of this study to design roadway and shared-use path facilities to meet the operational and safety needs of this growing and diverse group of users.
Conflicts on Multiple Use Trails
A synthesis of research on trail conflicts, produced in 1994 for FHWA by Roger L. Moore, North Carolina State University. It has 12 principles to minimize trail conflict. (Out of print)
Federal Surface Transportation Programs and Transportation Planning for Federal Land Management Agencies-A Guidebook
The guidebook is designed to assist Federal land managers, staff, and partners in developing relationships and in maximizing participation in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Transit Administration (FTA) surface transportation programs.
FHWA Bicycle and Pedestrian Program Publications
This webpage has resources for pedestrian and bicycle facility planning, design, construction, and operation; information on highway and street crossings; accessibility information; pedestrian and bicycle safety education; and pedestrian and bicycle best practices.
National Trails Training Partnership
Links to training opportunities.
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 website at www.clemson.edu/forestres/. The order form is at www.clemson.edu/cafls/departments/forestry/store/book_form.htm.
Snowmobile Safety Resources
From the International Association of Snowmobile Administrators and the American Council of Snowmobile Associations.
Conservation Corps and Transportation: Making the Connection
This is a guide to transportation funding programs for service and conservation corps.
Office of Highway Safety Bicycle and Pedestrian Resources
Order Copies of Brochures, CDs and Other Resources
Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System
This report provides information on 47 engineering countermeasures or treatments, along with education and enforcement programs, that may be implemented to improve pedestrian safety and mobility.
Roadside Use of Native Plants
Reference book on restoring and managing native plants.
A comprehensive resource center to fit the needs of all involved in trail development, from first-time citizen advocates to more experienced planners and trail managers.
Trail Planning, Design, and Development Guidelines, from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
The result of several years of research, this manual contains guidelines for creating both motorized and nonmotorized trails. This is a best practices guide for any local, county, regional, or State government agency or private organization.