A trailhead is the point at which a trail begins,[1] where the trail is often intended for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or off-road vehicles. Modern trailheads often contain restrooms, maps, signposts, and distribution centers for informational brochures about the trail and its features and parking areas for vehicles and trailers. The United States Access Board states, "A trailhead is defined as an outdoor space that is designated by an entity responsible for administering or maintaining a trail to serve as an access point to the trail."[2] The intersection of two trails is a trail junction and does not constitute a trailhead.[2]

Trailhead for Dike Trail no. 1389, in the San Isabel National Forest, Colorado
Trailhead sign
Kiosk at a trailhead

Historically, the cities located at the terminus of major pathways for foot traffic, such as the Natchez Trace and the Chisholm Trail, were also known as trailheads.[citation needed]

For mountain climbing and hiking, the elevation of the trailhead above sea level is posted to give an idea of how high the mountain is above the average terrain. A trailhead may also feature a trail grade, which determines the walking difficulty of the trail.


  1. ^ "trailhead". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 2020-01-20. Definition of trailhead: the point at which a trail begins.
  2. ^ a b "Outdoor Developed Areas: a summary of a summary of accessibility standards for Federal outdoor developed areas" (PDF). United States Access Board. May 2014. p. 29. Archived (PDF) from the original on Aug 13, 2021. Retrieved 19 July 2021.
  • Trailheads, a crowd-sourced database of trailheads in the United States