According to the Australian War Memorial:
There has been a considerable debate about whether the difficult path that crosses the Owen Stanley Range should be called the "Kokoda Trail" or the "Kokoda Track". Both "Trail" and "Track" have been in common use since the war. "Trail" is probably of American origin but has been used in many Australian history books and was adopted by the Australian Army as an official "Battle Honour". "Track" is from the language of the Australian bush. It is commonly used by veterans, and is used in the volumes of Australia's official history. Both terms are correct but "Trail" appears to be used more widely.
From an historians point of view most WWII Diggers that you speak to will refer to the path across the Owen Stanley Range as the "Kokoda Track" the word "Track" is also more prevalent in the Australia vocabulary, especially the generation that went off to war in 1942. The term "Fire Trail"was introduced during the 1960's and 70's and was based largely on North American mapping practices and hence the wordTrail has slowly crept into the Australian language. Walking within National Parks you will often see signs referring to walking trails, again this is due to the adoption of American geographical terms.
The Papuan Government use the official title The Kokoda Trail although the authority which controls the trekking is called the Kokoda Track Authority.
Official accounts during the war show the path referred to as both Trail and Track. Funnily enough different routes in Papua New Guinea have always been referred to as tracks . With Australia 's long presence in New Guinea other paths across the country retain the term track for example the Bulldog Track and the Jaure Track. Before the Second World War all paths and tracks etc were called by the direction in which one was going, eg. Kokoda Road, Moresby Road, Buna Road.
On the Isurava Memorial the termTrack and Trail are both used.
In the interest of preserving Australia's spoken heritage and that of the spirit of the bush, Kokoda Historical refers to the path over the Owen Stanley's as the Kokoda Track but acknowledges the use of both the term Track and Trail.