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Mapping

Every day, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) uses GIS mapping technology to work with local communities, individuals and our partners to map trails—promoting trail use and building healthy, active communities.

RTC has taken GPS units in the field to collect line and important point information along the route (restrooms, parking lots, drinking fountains, etc).

All spatial data received is processed and improved by overlaying it with aerial photography to correct for the varying levels of accuracy, then saved in a geospatial database.

These spatial representations of trails are attached to a trail record containing basic trail facts, descriptions and access information all available to the public for free on TrailLink.com.

TrailLink users can interact with the site by:

  • rating the trails
  • submitting photos
  • sharing reviews
  • adding new trails to the site

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Teams with Google

We are proud to announce that RTC is an official content provider for Googleâ„¢. Through this partnership, RTC is donating its entire database to Google to ensure that trails are available to millions of Google Maps users every month.

RTC's extensive trails data also has played an important role in making Google's new Biking Directions a reality—a feature that goes a long way toward putting RTC's Active Transportation work, quite literally, on the map.

RTC's trail data will help to ensure that millions of users now will be able to find safe routes using non-motorized and public transit modes of transportation.

Mapping Trail Systems: RTC's Mapping Future

To date, our mapping work has been focused on rail-trails. However, to fully demonstrate and support communities' active transportation systems, we need to make trail mapping information available to the public for all multi-use trails.

To that end, we're undertaking a massive effort to map multi-use trails across the country—with a specific focus on trail systems in urban areas. This requires ramping up our efforts, as there are untold miles of additional multi-use trails and trail systems across the United States still to be mapped.

These trails benefit all of us—and everyone can lend a hand in mapping them. Whether you're a local bike/ped coordinator, community planner, trail manager, or an outdoor trail enthusiast, you can help RTC by:

  • submitting a new trail
  • submitting GPS data for your trail
  • drawing your trail using our interactive trail mapping tool

For details and instructions, please visit the Trail Mapping page at TrailLink.com.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and the TrailLink.com website are funded through the generosity of RTC members and supporters. In addition to sharing your map data, we hope that you will consider making a tax-deductible donation to RTC to support TrailLink.com and our ongoing mapping efforts. Thank you!

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037
+1-202-331-9696