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How to Access or View USGS Trails Dataset

The USGS digital trails dataset is an ongoing effort to aggregate nationwide public domain geospatial data that can be easily viewed or accessed through the USGS as cartographic products, downloadable GIS files, or service endpoints. Learn more about accessing or viewing USGS Digital Trails below.  

USGS digital trails dataset is part of the USGS National Transportation Database and can be viewed or downloaded from the following sources: 

  1. For information about this project and links to data, visit the National Digital Trails website.  Either click on the previous link or search the web for “USGS National Digital Trails Project.” Next, click on “Data” to learn more about data sources.

National Digital Trails Website
The image shows the National Digital Trails Website with Data and Tools section highlighted.
  1. For an easy way to see if the trails that matter to you are part of the USGS digital trails dataset, visit the USGS Trails Explorer application. Trails Explorer offers a view of the USGS digital trails dataset over Protected Areas Database of the US (PAD-US) layer. Note: It is a large dataset so it may take a few seconds to load.  

In the Trails Explorer, you can also navigate directly to a map service by 1) clicking on the “Layers List” icon in the top right corner, 2) then click on the three dots next to the “USGS Aggregated Trails” layer, and 3) choose description (see image below).  

Trails Explorer Website
The image shows the Trails Explorer Website with digital trails data in the map view. The image also shows three steps users can take to access a link to the trails service endpoint. Step 1: click on the layers icon. Step 2: Click on the “more” icon (three dots) to the right of USGS Aggregated Trails. Step 3: click on “Description.” 

3.  A great way to access and view trails data is to download a US Topo map. You can customize, download, purchase, or view current or historical topographic maps using links on the Topographic Map page.  

Topographic Map page
The image shows the National Map Data Delivery Website. In the center it contains a launch button to access topoBuilder application.

4. Another way to view the nationwide trails dataset is through the National Map Viewer. The National Map Viewer includes map layers for water, elevation, transportation, structures, land cover, and others. The trails dataset is a feature class in the USGS National Transportation Database. You can view trails by 1) expanding the list of layers, then 2) expanding the “Transportation” group, and then 3) clicking on “Trails” under the “Large and Medium Scale” layers (see image below).

National Map Viewer Website
The image shows the National Map Viewer website with trails layer turned on under the Transportation group of layers.

5.  To download geospatial trails data, you have several options. The first option is to use the National Map Download Application. To obtain trails data, download the USGS National Transportation Database for your area of interest. From the “Find Products” section on the left choose 1) “Transportation;” 2) then check “National Transportation Database,” 3) choose “National” or “State” data extent, 4) and file format, “Shapefile” or “GDB.” See image below for more information. 

National Map Download Manager Website
The image shows the National Map Download manager website with the Transportation features selected for download.

6. Another option to download USGS trails data is to use the National Map Staged Products Directory.  Download a nationwide or state extract of the USGS National Transportation Database (“Tran” as noted in the image below) to access the trails dataset. Files can be downloaded in either shapefile or geodatabase format. Since “Staged Products” are updated periodically, it is a good idea to note the timestamp on the file.  


National Map Staged Products Website
The image shows the National Map Staged Products website with the Transportation group highlighted for download.

7.  For those needing a map or feature service, go to The National Map Services to pull trails data directly into a map or application.  Trails can be found in the “Theme Overlays” and under “Web Feature Services” as noted in the image below. 

National Map Service Endpoints
The image shows the National Map Service Endpoints website with Theme Overlays and Web Feature Services highlighted.