Trail Competency Framework

A group of nationwide trail professionals representing federal agencies, trail nonprofits, and the private sector initiated this project to develop a common trail competency framework, focusing on enhancing professionalism as well as a higher level of skill.

by The Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands at Indiana University

Trail professionals generally acquire their skills through training provided by a network of trail organizations and on-the-ground experience. This serves many people well, but a clear, cohesive path of skill and professional development is lacking. At the same time, trail work often requires training and skill that is not consistently recognized.

With this context, in the past year, a group of nationwide trail professionals representing federal agencies, trail nonprofits, and the private sector initiated this project to develop a common trail competency framework. American Trails, the coordinating organization, had identified the need for structure and methodological rigor in the approach and ultimately brought the opportunity to the attention of Indiana University’s Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands.

The result was a project focused on enhancing professionalism as well as a higher level of skill for those working in trails through shared language around trail skills and expertise. The purpose of the resulting project was to codify a competency framework that would create opportunities to align, integrate and coordinate trail trainings nationwide, communicate needs for technical trail expertise, and increase the overall skill level of the trail workforce.

Attached document published May 2022

About the Author


Eppley Institute for Parks and Public Lands provides online courses and onsite programs designed for those in the parks, recreation and tourism professions.

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