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An overview of the federal Recreational Trails Program

New federal funding for trails, greenways, parks, and bike/ped projects, FY05-09

From Federal Surface Transportation Programs and Transportation Planning for Federal Land Management AgenciesŅA Guidebook (Oct. 2007)
Download the full 111-page booklet (PDF 1.8 mb)


The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides funds to the States to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both nonmotorized and motorized recreational trail uses. Examples of trail uses include hiking, bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, off-road motorcycling, all-terrain vehicle riding, four-wheel driving, or using other off-road motorized vehicles.

Web Site -

Authorized Funding - SAFETEA-LU Sec. 1101(a)(8)

FY 2005: $60 million

FY 2006: $70 million

FY 2007: $75 million

FY 2008: $80 million

FY 2009: $85 million

Subtotal: $370 million

Eligible Activities

Under 23 U.S.C. 206(d)(2), eligible projects include:

  • Maintenance and restoration of existing trails.
  • Development and rehabilitation of trailside and trailhead facilities and trail linkages.
  • Purchase and lease of trail construction and maintenance equipment.
  • Construction of new trails (with restrictions for new trails on Federal lands, such as "approved by the Federal agency having jurisdiction over the affected lands").
  • Acquisition of easements or property for trails.
  • Assessment of trail conditions for accessibility and maintenance.
  • Development and dissemination of publications and operation of educational programs to promote safety and environmental protection related to trails (including supporting non-law enforcement trail safety and trail use monitoring patrol programs, and providing trail-related training) (limited to 5 percent of a State's funds).
  • State administrative costs related to this program (limited to 7 percent of a State's funds).

Where to Apply

Contact the State agency responsible for the RTP. See contact information for State trails program administrators at

Each State has its own process to solicit and select projects. States may make grants to private organizations, or to municipal, county, State, Tribal, or Federal government agencies. Some States require applications to come through a State or local government agency. Some States do not provide funds to private organizations. States are encouraged to enter into contracts and cooperative agreements with qualified youth conservation or service corps. See

Fund Distribution

Half of the funds are distributed equally among all States, and half are distributed in proportion to the estimated amount of off-road recreational fuel use in each State: fuel used for off-road recreation by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, off-road motorcycles, and off-road light trucks. See


The RTP is an 80 percent Federal share, with sliding scale for States with large proportions of Federal lands (see the sliding scale rates at

Federal agency project sponsors may provide additional Federal share up to 95 percent. Funds from other Federal programs may match RTP funds. RTP funds may match other Federal funds. States may allow a programmatic Federal share. Some States require a 50-percent non-RTP match. See

FLMAs may provide the non-RTP share for projects on Federal or Indian lands using FLHP and/or FLMA appropriated funds.


States must use at least 40 percent of the RTP funds for diverse trail use, 30 percent for motorized use, and 30 percent for nonmotorized use. (Diverse may include diverse motorized, diverse nonmotorized, and diverse mixed motorized and nonmotorized.) RTP funds are intended for recreational trails, and may not be used to improve roads for general passenger-vehicle use. Projects may be on public or private land; projects on private land must provide written assurances of public access.

RTP funds may not be used for:

  • Property condemnation (eminent domain).
  • Constructing new trails for motorized use on national forest or BLM lands unless the project is consistent with resource management plans.
  • Facilitating motorized access on otherwise nonmotorized trails.

See project examples in the RTP database at

See the RTP website at:

Download the full 111-page booklet (PDF 1.8 mb)

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