Federal Trail Data Standards

Document number


Maintenance authority

not applicable


Trails of all kinds, including Congressionally and secretarially-designated trails, are strongly recognized by the public and governmental agencies as important recreational and cultural resource corridors. The National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the United States Forest Service (USFS) have worked for many years with each other and with States, local governments and trail organizations to promote and develop trails for the benefit of the public. 

Universal trail data standards will enable national, regional, state, and trail-level managers and the public to use mutually understood terminology for recording, retrieving and applying spatial and tabular information. Data standards will make it easier for trail information to be accessed, exchanged and used by more than one individual, agency or group. Ease in sharing data increases the capability for enhanced and consistent mapping, inventory, monitoring, condition assessment, maintenance, costing, budgeting, information retrieval, and summary reporting for most internal and external needs. 

The collection, storage, and management of trail-related data are important components of everyday business activities in many Federal and State land-managing agencies, trail organizations, and businesses. From a management perspective, trails data must often mesh closely with other types of infrastructure, resource, and facility enterprise data. For the public using paper maps, the internet, GPS or other instrumentation, standard data formats enable users to consistently and predictably identify specific trails and a core set of corresponding information. Today, digital trail data are a necessity throughout a trail data management life cycle, from trail planning through design, construction, operation, and maintenance. 

Automating, sharing, and leveraging trail data through a widely-accepted standard can provide a variety of important benefits: 

Efficiency – creating and gathering trail data that are standardized and readily usable. 

Compatibility – compiling data from one project or discipline that can be compatible with other applications; 

Consistency – using the same standards, meshing data produced by one organization with that developed by another; 

Speed – hastening the availability of data through a reduction in duplicative efforts and lowered production costs (Applications can be developed more quickly and with more interoperability by using existing standards-compliant data); 

Conflict resolution – resolving conflicting trail data more easily if compliant to the same standards; 

Reliability – improving the quality of shared trail data by increasing the number of individuals who find and correct errors; and 

Reusability – allow maximum reuse across agencies and support objectives of E-Government (E-Gov) initiatives and enterprise architecture. 


The functional scope of the standard includes the definition of a core set of trail data attributes, corresponding values, and definitions. These standards reflect tabular and spatial trail data applicable only to trails within the United States, including all U.S. territories and outlying possessions.

Sponsored by

Federal Interagency Council on Trails

Project history

Document Version Date Custodian
2007/02/01 FGDC Standards Working Group
Committee draft    2007/11/29  FGDC Standards Working Group 
Comments by Julie Binder Maitra   2008/01/09  FGDC Standards Working Group 
Comments by Sharon Shin    2008/01/10  FGDC Standards Working Group 
Public review draft    2008/05/19  FGDC Secretariat 

Final draft

Adjudication of public review comments

  2010/09 FGDC Standards Working Group 
FGDC-STD-017-2011 FGDC-endorsed standard   2011/11

National Park Service

Forest Service 

Related information

Federal Trails Data Standards