United States Department of Agriculture
Forest Service

  ROS Primer and Field Guide

access icon Access

Access includes type and mode of travel Highly developed access generally reduces the opportunities for solitude, risk, and challenge. However, it can enhance opportunities for socializing, and feelings of safety and comfort.

Cross-Country Travel Non-Motorized Trails Motorized Trails and Primitive Roads
(Traffic Ser D)
Controlled (2) TSL B&C Rds. Full Access
Primitive Norm Norm Unacceptable Unacceptable Unacceptable
Semi-Primitive Non-Motorized Compatible Norm Incon. Unacceptable Unacceptable
Semi-Primitive Motorized Compatible Compatible Norm Incon. Unacceptable
Roaded Natural Compatible Compatible Compatible Norm (1) Norm
Rural Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible Norm
Urban Compatible Compatible Compatible Compatible Norm

(1) Roaded Natural may be prescribed in certain circumstances with roads partially or fully closed.
(2) TSL = Traffic Service Level. In TSL-D primitive roads should provide challenge to 4-wheel drive and high clearance vehicles but discourage use by highway vehicles. By definition, they are "Single-use controlledtraffic roads. The surface is rough. Stable during dry weather. Rutting is controlled for protection of water only".

photograph: two people walking in the woods

Nonmotorized Trails are the norm in SPNM settings, but as here in North Carolina, "existing primitive" roads may sometimes be used as nonmotorized travelways.

photograph: a primitive road

As branches brush the sides of a jeep, and the wheel tracks become faint, this "primitive" road on the Cherokee NF offers the opportunity to feel some challenge and self-reliance.

photograph: a jeep driving along a narrow woodland road

The opportunity to feel more challenge and self-reliance on driving skills can be built into "primitive" roads on steeper terrain. This example was constructed to user specifications on the Wenatchee NF. The key is to provide challenging opportunities at different levels of difficulty where conditions permit.

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