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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Trail Type A and J Standards

Trail Type A

Trail Type J

Definition: These trails are steep, narrow, irregular routes that may include steps and obstacles such as rocks and roots. They are located where accessible trails would have unacceptable impacts to the site and where the natural setting lends itself to a low impact trail. This type of trail may not be appropriate in areas where the resource value of the site is exceptionally high. Although used in limited hillside settings, they require higher physical exertion and increase the diversity of trail experience.

Definition: Shared hiking and biking trails have surface and slope for both mountain bike and hiker. Additional width allows side-by-side hiking or riding or room for on-coming or overtaking trail users. There are no barriers such as steps, rocks or roots although the natural surface may have some irregularities. The goal is to provide access to natural settings without adding paving.

Users: The high challenge hiking trail is strenuous and requires good balance and moderate to high fitness

Users: The hiking and biking trail requires moderate balance and fitness. Walkers, mountain bikers, and runners are desired users. Since this trail does not have the obstacles desired by expert riders, it is more suitable for beginning and less experienced mountain bikers. Wheelchairs (motorized or human-powered) and mobility scooters may be used, but the surface is not as reliably firm and slip-resistant as on a paved walking trail.

Accepted Materials: Native soil and rock are most common although steps, railings, and boardwalks are used as needed.

Accepted Materials: Native soil and rock are most common although crushed rock and boardwalks are used as needed. Curves may need to be superelevated (banked) and reinforced to resist soil displacement. Trail beds can also be armored with larger rocks in braking sections to reduce formation of brake bumps. Curve radii and sight lines should be adequate to serve two-way travel. Path width is minimized unless high use is expected or maintenance vehicle access is needed. Hand or guard railing may be added in some areas for safety. Seasonal trail closures to mountain bikes may be needed to prevent erosion.



PBOT adheres to the trail standards outlines in Trail Type A and Type J as defined by the Portland Parks & Recreation most recent Trail Guidelines booklet.

There are "Trail Exemptions" that will reduce or potentially eliminate the needs for environmental permitting (Title 33.430, Environmental Zones). The requirements to meet these exemptions include: 

  • Trails must be confined to a single ownership or be within a public trail easement; 
  • Trail widths must not exceed 30 inches, stair width must not exceed 50 inches, and trail grade must not exceed 20 percent except for the portion of the trail containing stairs; 
  • Plant trimming must not exceed a height of 8 feet and a width of 6 feet
  • No native trees 6 or more inches in diameter and no native shrubs larger than 5 feet tall may be removed; 
  • Trails must not be paved; and
  • Trails must be at least 15 feet from the top of bank of all water bodies.

These exemptions, if applicable, will be confirmed by the Bureau of Development Services before construction can begin. 

Looking for additional resources? Visit our Community Partners page and the Portland Parks and Recreation Trail Design Guidelines Document