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Trail Design Guidelines - enough confusion to go around

There is enough confusion to go around about the difference between:

  1. 1)the new chapter on Recreation Facilities that are now part of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design 2010; and,

  1. 2)the Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas [GODA] which are still in draft mode [2007], and may still be a few years away from being published in the Federal Register.

The chapter on Recreation Facilities deals with specific design elements such as fishing piers and amusement parks and golf courses.  Other than accessible routes, it does not deal with hiking trails.

The Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas will deal with trails and beaches, etc. when they get adopted.  Note that even then, the first set of the Guidelines will apply to federal properties only.  There is no known date when non-federal sites will go into effect.  Therefore we have provided the relevant sections from The Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas on the next four pages.

The first excerpt, Chapter T203 of the Guidelines, deals with scoping - the applicability of trail conditions and their corresponding guidelines.  

The subsequent excerpt, Chapter T303 of the Guidelines, provides the specific design guidelines, but should not be referenced until one has read Chapter T203, to verify that they are applicable to one’s specific situation.

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Section 3c

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Please note:

Final Guidelines for Outdoor Developed Areas were published in the Federal Register on September 26, 2013, but after AR had written and published these Trail Guidelines. The GODA went into effect on November 25, 2013.

As of April 2020, the GODA still apply only to federal agencies, although local governments would be wise to adopt these excellent guidelines.

AR Team