Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe

Special Quality Certification for Walking Trails.

Walking is very popular. All over Europe more and more people tie their boot laces during their holidays and leisure time, and discover a variety of natural beauties on foot.

The special quality certificate of ‘Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe’ offers a transparent system of criteria for the improvement of trail quality throughout Europe.

How is it possible to ensure this?

Through the creation of a system of assessment that takes into account the needs of walkers!

The use of the criteria system ‘Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe’ renders the attractiveness of routes measurable and guarantees a high quality walking experience.

Such a system has to capture the complexity of different landscapes, infrastructures and route character in comparable dimensions. To allow for the variety and uniqueness of the landscapes and walking routes in the different regions of Europe, the criteria system has been constructed with maximum flexibility. It uses the years of practical experience in countries that already use quality criteria to plan and upgrade walking trails.

The rating/grading as ‘Leading Quality Trails- Best of Europe’ is an award as well as a transparent method to optimise the overall route infrastructure. The criteria can be used as a checklist and help countries that have to build up their walking route network. In countries that already have a functioning route network, such a system can strengthen walking tourism further.

The logo ‘Leading Quality Trails- Best of Europe’ is used on national as well as international trails. Certification is only available for complete trails. Prerequisite is a distance of at least 50km with three daily stages. Exceptions to the rule are the European Long Distance routes. They can be certified in part, as long as the minimum length is given.

With the “Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe“, the ERA sets a European standard bringing multiple uses for walking tourism:

  • giving the walking tourist an overview and decision aid
  • giving regard to ecology and nature preservation
  • involvement of all affected/interest parties in the quality process 
  • trained and competent trail experts in the area e.g. from walking groups, wildlife reserves and tourism
  • competitive edge for the walking region in marketing   

 More about the LQT-BE: https://www.era-ewv-ferp.org/lqt/

Step by Step

The process

  • An interested region (tourism body, National Park, walking group, etc.) contacts the ERA secretariat to start the quality process.
  • ERA offers a 2-day European-wide uniform course for assessors in the region.
  • The trained persons gather the data necessary for the quality assessment on the trails and assess them initially (analysis of strength and weakness). Thus shortcomings in the quality of the route can be identified quickly and possibilities for upgrades can be found. 
  • When the route fulfills the ‘Quality route’ criteria, an application for certification can be applied for with ERA. 
  • The data gathered on the route are independently assessed and analysed by ERA. Qualified ERA personnel carry out spot checks on the route locally. 
  • When the results of the checks are positive, the route gets the certification ‘Leading Quality Trails’ for the period of 3 years. After this time, the quality of the route has to be tested again. The quality mark can be used in printed matter and on the internet to market the walking route.

ERA have appointed the Deutscher Wanderverband Service Ltd. with the implementation of the ‘Leading Quality Trails – Best of Europe’.


Nature conservation The proposer confirms that the route of the walking trail complies with all environmental protection regulations (particularly in sensitive areas like natural reserves, biotopes, etc.).

Maintenance The proposer guarantees for the complete period of use of the certification that maintenance of the trail – surface and furniture – is ensured. The ongoing regular inspections and care has to be documented and sent to the ERA. The fundamental principles of ERA way marking apply.

Validity period The certification period starts with the handing over of the certificate and runs for 3 years.

Co-operation All affected interest groups that are part of the quality process in the trail region have to be involved by the proposers from the very start. Interested parties can include forest services, NPWS, tourism groups, mountaineering organisations, walking clubs, land owners, local authorities and communities.

European Ramblers‘ Association (ERA) 
Kleine Rosenstr. 1-3 
34117 Kassel  

phone +49 (0)5 61 / 9 38 73 – 0
fax +49 (0)5 61 / 9 38 73 – 10

Other LQT programs: