Wilderness Connect, housed on the University of Montana campus, acknowledges that we are on the traditional lands of the Salish and Kalispel peoples, who have stewarded this land throughout many generations and are its past, present, and future caretakers.
Trail Condition Monitoring
This toolbox provides an overview of trail condition monitoring in wilderness areas. It includes agency policy, definitions, and features a trail condition monitoring program development process along with training resources, and references for more information. Contact us to suggest new material for inclusion.
The Wilderness Act does not specifically mention trails or monitoring but it does indicate that wilderness areas are "...for the use and enjoyment of the American people..." and they offer "...outstanding opportunities for solitude or a primitive and unconfined type of recreation..." in settings where wilderness character is preserved and natural conditions protected. Trail condition monitoring and the necessary management of trail systems help ensure that opportunities for wilderness experiences are preserved while adverse impacts to the biophysical components of the wilderness resource are minimized.
Trail condition monitoring is the systematic collection and evaluation of trail inventory and condition data to establish a baseline and/or identify changes and trends over time. This information is used for visitor use management and resource protection and helps managers prioritize trail maintenance and construction needs. The primary purpose of trail condition monitoring in wilderness is to provide essential information for identifying and minimizing the biophysical impacts of both user-created (social) and designated trails.
General Trail Condition Monitoring Program Development
- Visitor Use Management: Monitoring Visitor Impacts and Use E-course
An on-line training course that contains modules on Monitoring Plan Development and Trail Impact Monitoring
- Recreation Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) Mobile Application The Colorado Mountain Club’s Recreation Impact Monitoring System (RIMS) mobile app will allow trail users, volunteers, and staff to gather data on trails, signage, camping, visitor use, and more.
- High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process a trail assessment process that enables a single individual the ability o collect detailed and accurate trail and feature data in a timely manner.
- National Forest System Trails
- FS Infra Trails Required & Recommended Data Work 2007
- FS Trail Assessment & Condition Surveys User Guide 2009
- FS Minimum Protocol for Social Trail Monitoring in Wilderness
Other Relevant Toolboxes
- Marion, J.L., Y.F. Leung, and Nepal, S.K., 2006. Monitoring Trail Conditions: New Mythodological Considerations. George Wright Forum. Volume 23, Number 2.
- Svajda, J., Korony, S., Brighton, I., Esser, S., and Ciapala, S., 2016. Trial Impact monitoring in Rocky Mountain National Park, USA. Solid Earth, 7, 115-128.
- Marion, J. L. and Y. F. Leung. 2001. Trail Resource Impacts and An Examination of Alternative Assessment Techniques. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 19(3): 17-37.
- Marion, J. L., Wimpey, J. F. and L. O. Park. 2011. The science of trail surveys: Recreation ecology provides new tools for managing wilderness trails. Park Science, 28(3): 60-64.
- Wimpey, J. and Marion, J. L. 2011. Formal and Informal Trail Monitoring Protocols and Baseline Conditions: Great Falls Park and Potomac Gorge. Research Report. USDI, U.S. Geological Survey.
- Leung, Y. F., Newburger, T., Jones, M, Kuhn, B, Woiderski, B., 2010. Developing a Monitoring Protocol for Visitor-Created Informal Trails in Yosemite National Park, USA. Environmental Management, 47:93-106.