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Graphic 2

The example above is a part of a well-developed trail map - click to see full map

Trail maps

Summary – Trail maps, whether posted on the web, available as printed materials, or available on site, are indispensable for people with disabilities to better plan for, and anticipate the hike.

Description – Trail maps can be used to convey information in a variety of ways. They can be used to pinpoint features, obstacles and amenities along the trail.  While maps generally provide a visual reference, alternative formats, such as tactile maps should be considered; even then, mapping alone will not satisfy all users.

Importance/Purpose – The disabled community is made up of a variety of sub-groups; each group receives and processes information in different ways.  It is important to show maps in a variety of formats and provide enough information about the trail to allow users to choose trails that meet their needs and abilities.  Providing access to trail maps/information along the trail as well as at the trailhead gives users basic information as they are experiencing the trail.  Knowing potential challenges in advance enables users to determine whether the trail meets their needs and desired experience.  Maps provide a way to convey to users the distance between points, such as the trailhead and an obstacle.  Incorporating elevation changes or trail profiles into the map is extremely useful.


  1. Accessible amenities such as restrooms, picnic areas, parking lots and viewpoints can be indicated on a trail map with the universal blue (accessible) symbol.  Amenities should not be considered accessible if they are not linked by an accessible route.  The universal blue symbol would not be used in this case.

  2. Distances between amenities or significant features should be indicated on a trail map.

  3. Trail elevation and degree of difficulty can be shown using a variety of methods such as color coded trail segments, elevation profiles or tactile maps.

  4. Color coding can be used effectively in mapping, but it should not be relied on as the only means of communicating information, as some users, for instance, people who are color-blind, will not be able to differentiate the colors.


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Photo 1

The photo above shows a trail map, at a trail head, that includes flora and fauna

Graphic 3

A trail profile may be as useful as the trail map itself

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