assess better

trail assessment tools and products

assess better

trail assessment tools and products

trail assessment methods

Our trail assessment tools are specially designed to enhance, simplify, and speed the assessment process. Each of our assessment methods offers different tools to best meet the needs of the project. Beneficial Designs offers two main trail assessment methods in addition to our surface testing procedure. An additional app assessment is currently being developed. Feel free to read more about each process or scroll down to see all of our trail assessment products.

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the tools

Trail assessment requires the best tools for the job. Beneficial Designs has been developing and perfecting trail assessment tools since the early nineties, providing everything necessary for a complete, accurate, and efficient trail assessment. Please take a look at our products below.

beneficial tools

streamlining trail assessment

HETAP software

The High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP) software has been used on endless trails. Designed to increase accuracy, expedite assessment, and minimize costs, HETAP enables a single assessor to collect precise trail and feature data at an average of one mile per hour. Data is automatically stored and sorted, providing accurate and detailed summary trail reports for analysis.

Beneficial Designs also offers an optional laptop along with the software. Contact BD for more information regarding the best laptops to use for an assessment.

HETAP cart

The HETAP Cart is the perfect vehicle for wider trails and urban routes. Able to carry everything necessary for any assessment, this cart makes the entire process lightweight and fast.

HETAP wheel

The state-of-the-art High Efficiency Trail Assessment Process (HETAP) wheel, designed for any trail, is equipped with automated GPS, distance, and slope sensors, along with a camera for features. Data saves directly into the database, minimizing time and effort.

Digital Tread Squared

The Digital Tread Squared is the next upgrade from the base model UTAP wheel. Equipped with two perpendicular Smart Tool levels to measure grade and cross slope, the DT2 eliminates the need to manually measure slopes at each station, thus streamlining the assessment process.

UTAP wheel

The UTAP wheel is our base model digital measuring wheel. Manufactured by Keson, “the MP401E is Keson’s only electronic wheel with a steel frame. It is the world’s sturdiest electronic measuring wheel and the easiest and most comfortable to use. It will stand up to the harshest conditions.” This digital wheel is water-proof and unaffected by the elements, making a perfect choice for outdoor assessment.

SmartToolTM Level with SmartFeet

Waterproof, dustproof, backlit, and more, the SmartToolTM digital level is the most accurate, reliable, easy to use, and durable level on the market. The SmartFeet add-on supplied by Beneficial Designs  provides additional benefits for the assessment process.

The first benefit of adding feet is to provide a wider stance to reduce the possibility of tipping over on trails. Since trails are often bumpy, uneven and have steep grades and cross slopes, the feet help keep the smart level upright. A smart level without feet will have difficulty staying upright on uneven surfaces and steep terrain.

In addition, SmartFeet average out imperfections between the feet. When a level without feet is placed flat on a surface, small rocks or bumps can offset the level providing an inaccurate reading. Adding feet reduces the surface area of the level exposed to these imbalances.


Using the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP) manual assessment method, preferably two clinometers can be used by two assessors to determine typical grade. The typical grade of a trail segment provides information about the steepness of a trail between assessment stations. More instruction on how to use a clinometer for a trail assessment is included in the UTAP/HETAP Training Guide.


As an optional manual method of determining the direction of a trail from one station to the next using the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP), two compasses may be operated in a similar manner as the clinometer. More instruction on how to use a compass for a trail assessment in included in the UTAP/HETAP Training Guide.

station marker flag

Trail Access Information (TAI) stations serve as reference points along the trail during an assessment. These stations identify points where the characteristics of the trail change or represent regular intervals if no apparent changes are evident. Station marker flags identify these stations when performing a manual assessment using the Universal Trail Assessment Process (UTAP). Each flag also provides a section for recording the current station distance.

tape measure

Last but not least, a tape measure is an essential tool for any trail assessment–whether automated or manual–providing dimensions of tread width, features, obstructions, and more. Though we include a tape measure in our UTAP package, any typical tape measure is sufficient.