Discover the shortest path

The shortest path between two starting points can be identified with the Trace tool using the Shortest path trace type. 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.

To learn more, see Utility network trace types.


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

  • Two starting points must be placed on network features.
  • The network topology must be enabled.
  • When working with an enterprise geodatabase, the Input Utility Network parameter must be from a utility network service.

Trace the shortest path

  1. Ensure the utility network is available in an active map view and click the Data tab under Utility Network on the ribbon.
    Utility Network contextual tab set

    The Utility Network Data tab is activated.

  2. Ensure that two starting points exist. In the Tools group, click the Trace Locations command to open the Trace Locations pane. Set two Starting Points to use in the trace.
  3. On the Data tab, in the Tools group, click Shortest Path in the tools gallery.
    Tools group

    Use the down arrow to browse within the tools gallery for Shortest Path.

    The Trace tool opens for the utility network in the active map using the specific Trace Type.

  4. Specify a Shortest Path Network Attribute Name 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.
  5. Apply additional configuration parameters as needed. Reference the Trace tool for a full list of tool parameters. Also see Configure a trace.
  6. Click Run.

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