National Trails Fund Guidelines

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What is the National Trails Fund?

American Hiking Society’s National Trails Fund is the only privately funded, national grants program dedicated solely to building and protecting hiking trails. Now in its Sixteenth year, the fund has awarded $679,000 to more than 170 outdoor organizations (209 projects) all over the nation working to establish, protect and maintain foot trails in America. Awards range from $500 to $3,000 per project.

What types of projects will be considered for the grants?

  • Those that have hikers as the primary constituency, though multi-purpose human-powered trail uses are eligible
  • Those that secure trail lands, including acquisition of trails and trail corridors and the costs associated with acquiring conservation easements.
  • Projects that will result in visible and substantial ease of access, improved hiker safety and/or avoidance of environmental damage. Higher preference is often given to projects with volunteer labor.
  • Projects that promote constituency building surrounding specific trail projects – including volunteer recruitment and support.


Funding Details and Grant Accountability

  • Award amounts range from $500 to $3,000.
  • Applicants must be a current member of AHS’s Alliance of Hiking Organizations to apply.
  • Applicants must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and must submit their IRS designation letters to receive funding.  The use of a 501(c)3 fiscal agent is acceptable.
  • Except for land acquisition programs, acceptable projects should be completed in one year. Multi-year projects will be considered only in exceptional cases.
  • Grants will not be awarded to (a) religious organizations for religious purposes, (b) private foundations or (c) political causes, candidates or legislative lobbying efforts.
  • The grantee must complete a final report on the project’s progress, successes and failures, funds dispersal and what role the grant played in the project, due November 30, 2017.
  • A declined request does not imply that the applicant’s program is not needed or valued, but simply that it does not fall within our giving guidelines or priorities, or that funds are not available.
  • An Alliance Member may only apply for 1 grant per year of dues paid.  If you signed up as a member mid-application cycle, then you will have to renew your membership before you may apply again.


Application Procedures

  • Visit here to apply for the National Trails Fund. Follow all instructions before opening the application.
  • Once you begin a National Trails Fund Grant Application, you will NOT be able to save your progress.
  • All applications MUST be submitted electronically. Submit your application by 4:00 p.m. (EST) on February 17th , 2017. Late applications will not be accepted under any circumstances.



  • January 16, 2017: Application is available online here.
  • February 17th, 2017: Application must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. (EST)
  • May 2017: Board of Directors approves American Hiking Society Trail Grant recipients and applicants are notified.
  • November 30, 2017: Final Report due to American Hiking Society.


All applicants must be members of AHS’ Alliance of Hiking Organizations to apply.

I have read the National Trails Fund Grant Guidelines and am now ready to view the grant application checklist.