Skills and Competencies Upon Which to Build the Trails Industry

Categories, lists, and definitions of skills used in trails and greenways work, along with links to classes and resources for training.

by American Trails Staff


This area categorizes and defines the wide range of skills used in trails and greenways work. The goal is to comprehensively identify the range of competencies and knowledge used by staff and volunteers engaged in every kind of trail work. Web pages for the 12 topics provide a catalogue of skills, plus links to resources, publications, and training providers.

Compiled by Stuart Macdonald from resources provided by members of the National Trails Training Partnership. Many of the specific skills were identified by the task force for the National Scenic and Historic Trails Training Needs Assessment.

Skills Categories

Click on each category name to reach the expanded page with details of jobs, competencies, and skills for each topic.

1. Trail Design

Layout of trails; design for different trail activities; types of trails.

2. Facility Construction

Trail building; construction techniques; surfacing and materials; bridges and boardwalks; trailhead facilities; related structures; recreational facilities.

3. Trail Maintenance

Care and maintenance of trails, greenways, and bikeways; repair of various trail elements; maintenance of trailheads and related facilities.

4. Visitor and Trail Management

Managing trails for a variety of uses and visitor experiences while meeting trail objectives, monitoring activities and their impacts on natural, historic, and cultural resources.

5. Laws, Regulations, and Policies

Interpreting regulations and legislation; applying federal laws on environmental, historic issues; providing accessible routes under the Americans with Disabilities Act; developing and enforcing trail regulations; responding to legal issues.

6. Planning

Planning individual trails and greenways; identifying routes and experiences for park systems; developing plans for regional and statewide systems; developing goals and objectives for trail projects.

7. Program Administration and Funding

Budgeting; developing costs; managing grants and finding programs; managing staff and volunteers; managing projects; identifying funding sources; working with a variety of funding; writing grant proposals.

8. Organizational Development

Development of organizations for trails and greenways work: creating and building a nonprofit organization; managing boards and staff; recruiting, training, and rewarding volunteers; managing finances and legal issues.

9. Partnership and Collaboration

Creating and maintaining partnerships; interagency project management; structuring agreements among partners; nurturing cooperation among a variety of recreation and conservation interests; planning trail systems across jurisdictional lines.

10. Resource Protection and Monitoring

Management of natural resources that host trails and greenways: monitoring impacts of visitors and natural processes; acquisition and protection of trail corridors; conservation and restoration of habitat and natural areas.

11. Information Management

Database management; website development; trail and facility inventories; trail assessment and maintenance records; identifying and gathering needed information.

12. Public Outreach, Marketing, and Interpretation

Signs and public information; communicating regulations and etiquette; marketing of trails and recreation opportunities; environmental education; interpretation of historic and cultural features.

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