RTP Recreational Trails Program


$3.6 million


Grant Limit



Match Requirement

20 percent


The Recreational Trails Program provides federal funds to rehabilitate and maintain trails that provide a backcountry experience.

A backcountry experience means that the user will experience nature instead of seeing or hearing human development and activity. While backcountry trails may be near cities or roads, or even offer views of cities and towns, the trail’s physical setting should be predominately natural.

This grant program invests in all types of trails, including those for riding off-road vehicles, bicycling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, hiking, horseback riding, motorcycling, water trails, and more.

Grant Application Schedule

Item Date

Application Webinar, Applications Open

August 7, 2024 

Application Due

October 31, 2024 

Technical Review (Staff Review)

November 1, 2024 - December 16, 2024 Estimate

Technical Completion Deadline

January 15, 2025 

Project Evaluation (Written)

February 3, 2025 - March 3, 2025

Board Approves Preliminary Ranked Lists

April 30, 2025 Estimate

Grant Award History

Most recent grants and evaluation results, listed by the application year.

Application Resources

Grant Manual


Application Webinar

Watch the 2022 Application Webinar here!

Project Celebrations

Read the article: “Outstanding State Trail Program” in a national competition.

Typical Projects

  • Clearing overgrown brush and fallen trees from trails
  • Repairing trail damage from floods and fires
  • Replacing bridges and drainage structures

Who May Apply?

  • Local agencies
  • Special purpose districts, such as park and recreation districts, public utility districts, and port districts. These districts must be legally authorized to develop, operate, and maintain recreational facilities.
  • Native American tribes
  • State agencies
  • Federal agencies
  • Trail-related, nonprofit organizations


Every six years, Congress passes the nation’s surface transportation bill. Since 1991, this massive funding authorization law has included provisions for these cooperative, state-administered grants.

Funding comes from federal gasoline taxes and is awarded every other year.

Grant Limits

General projects:  $150,000

Education projects: $10,000 each year

Match Details

Applicants must provide 20 percent minimum match.

Match may include the following:

  • Appropriations or cash
  • Bonds
  • Donations of cash, land, labor, equipment, and materials
  • Federal, state, local, and private grants
  • Applicant’s labor, equipment, and materials

Environmental Requirement

Grant applicants must show compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Eligible Projects

  • Development: Development of trailside facilities, trailheads, and trail links for recreational trails.
  • Maintenance: Maintenance and restoration of trails, trailside facilities, and trailheads. Minor trail relocations.
  • Education: Programs to directly convey a safety or environmental protection message for recreational trails.

Ineligible Projects

  • New trail development not directly related to an existing trail
  • Land acquisition
  • Law enforcement
  • Projects facilitating motorized use on national forest or Bureau of Land Management land unless the land is not designated wilderness and construction is consistent with the management direction in the forest or Bureau plans.
  • Projects facilitating motorized use on or access to recreational trails on which, as of May 1, 1991, motorized use was prohibited or had not occurred.
  • Planning, feasibility studies, master plans, and wildlife impact studies
  • Roads or bridges unless specifically designated for recreational trail use, not accessible to or maintained for cars, or closely associated with a campground or trailhead project
  • Sidewalks and other paths that provide an urban trail experience
  • Those that severely restrict public use, such as deed provisions that have a significant negative impact on public recreational use of the property; projects may be on public or private land, but must provide written assurances of public access
  • Those on property bought under a conditional sales contract, unless the grant applicant has title to the property

Long-term Commitment

Trails and facilities developed with these grants must be open and available for twenty-five years.

Projects that maintain trails must be open and available during the active period of the project agreement; however, those that entail capital work to build new trails or facilities or make significant, long-term renewal improvements to existing facilities must be open and available for twenty-five years. For details, see the grant manual.