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TRAILS Planning Support Tool – What Is It Meant For?

March 3, 2021

What and who was the TRAILS application designed for? 

Trail Routing Analysis and Information Linkage System (TRAILS) planning support tool is a web-based interactive tool for land managers to conduct geospatial analysis for identifying and prioritizing potential trail connections between existing trails and trail networks. The target user is usually a person involved in the initial trail planning process of new trails or improvements to existing trail routes or systems. Typically, participants work either directly for government land management agencies or partner with government land management agencies. Occupations may include landscape architects, land management planners, trail designers/builders, wildland fire and other emergency services experts. The TRAILS tool is also useful for collaboration with partners and communicating information about potential projects within your own agency. Although you must register to utilize the application, you can share your results in a dashboard view that anyone can access. The dashboard view contains all the projects details and results to explore.

TRAILS Dashboard View with sample project results
The image above shows an example of what a project dashboard view might look like. There are a series of existing trails shown by black dashed lines on a topographic basemap. Protected Lands of the US are highlighted by color. The view contains a list of proposed connector routes on the left. An elevation profile and a connector details are displayed for a selected connector.     

It is important to note that TRAILS is not a replacement for the fieldwork needed to finalize trail planning. Furthermore, the application offers terrain cost analysis rather than an actual cost in dollars to complete a project.