Find the shortest path

You can find the shortest path between two starting points using the Trace tool with the Shortest path trace type set. The shortest path is calculated using a numeric network attribute such as shape length. Cost- or distance-based paths can be achieved with a shortest path trace.

For more information, see Trace network trace types.


To perform a shortest path trace, the following requirements must be met:

Discover the shortest path

To perform a shortest path trace, complete the following steps:

  1. Ensure that the trace network is added to an active map.

    This enables the Trace Network tab.

  2. Click the Trace Network tab.
  3. Ensure that two starting points exist in the map view. In the Tools group, click the Trace command to open the Trace pane. For Starting Points, set two starting points on network features to use in the trace.
  4. On the Trace Network tab, in the Tools group gallery, click Shortest Path.

    The Trace tool opens for the trace network in the active map using the shortest path trace type, as specified in the Trace Type parameter.

  5. For Shortest Path Network Attribute Name, specify the network attribute to be used to calculate the shortest path or cost of travel between the two starting points. Use a numeric network attribute such as Shape length.
  6. Configure additional parameters as needed. Refer to the Trace tool for a full list of parameters. .
  7. Click Run.

Features participating in the shortest path between the two starting points are returned in the trace result.