2.2 Recreational Trails

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The Requirements in this Section apply to:
Government of Ontario, Legislative Assembly, and Designated Public Sector Organizations Private / Not-for-Profit Sector Organizations
Large Small
Yes Yes Yes
Regulation Reference:
80.6 - Trails

Creating accessible trails will help provide inclusive opportunities for people of all abilities and ages to enjoy the outdoors.


The Standard only applies to newly constructed and redeveloped recreational trails that are intended to be maintained. These types of trails provide pedestrians with a recreational or leisure experience, such as walking through a park to enjoy the natural environment.


The Standard strikes a balance between trails that are constructed to offer a specific experience such as a sport or physical challenge, and trails that offer a leisure experience that are usable by everyone, including people with disabilities. The Standard does not apply to:

  • Trails that are not intended for pedestrian use;
  • Trails that are solely constructed and intended for cross-country skiing, mountain biking or the use of motorized snow vehicles or offroad vehicles; and
  • Wilderness trails, backcountry trails and portage routes.

Some trails are used for different purposes at different times and are considered multi-use trails. Trails like these might be used for skiing in the winter months, but used by pedestrians at other times. Multi-use trails are covered by the Standard. The Standard does not apply to trails solely intended for snowmobiling, biking or cross-country skiing.

Consultation Requirements for the Design of Recreational Trails

Before developing a new recreational trail or redeveloping an existing one for pedestrian use, obligated organizations must consult with the public, including people with disabilities. Municipalities must also consult with their municipal accessibility advisory committee, if they have one.

Trails in Ontario offer a wide variety of experiences. Some people with disabilities will be able to use a trail regardless of the design specifications, including those with a steep running slope. The consultation process gives people with disabilities the opportunity to help determine the location and features for the design of accessible trails within their communities.

The consultation process must address:

  • Trail slope (cross slope, running slope or both), as applicable.
  • The need for and location of ramps on the trail.
  • The need for, location and design of:
    • Rest areas;
    • Passing areas;
    • Viewing areas;
    • Amenities along the trail; and
    • Any other pertinent feature.

It is important to note beach access routes do not have consultation requirements. Refer to Section 2.3 Beach Access routes.

Refer to Section 1.9 for further information on requirements to consult with the public and with people with disabilities.


Illustrated Technical Guide to the Design of Public Spaces