The popular 59km track follows the route of a disused railway, running from Guildford to Shoreham by Sea, and is used by cyclists, walkers and horse riders.
The grant came from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the resurfacing work – using lime chippings – should be finished by November 2020.
The council had placed a bid for £612,000.
The £588,000 will be match-funded using Section 106 money secured from developers and highways maintenance money received from the government.
The five West Sussex sections due for resurfacing are:
• A 1,330metre section between Rudgwick and Slinfold
• A 1,700metre section from Nuthurst footpath number 1815 to the south end of the tunnel at West Grinstead
• A 1,800metre stretch from the West Grinstead tunnel to Needs Bridge
• A 2,000metre stretch between Needs Bridge West Grinstead and the B2125, and
• A 300metre section at Henfield car park, along with car park repairs.
This adds up to 7.13km of the 38km of the Downs Link which runs through West Sussex.
At a County Hall meeting, Liberal Democrat councillor Morwen Millson said that, while she was ‘absolutely delighted’ with the grant, she was ‘slightly perturbed’ that the entire Downs Link would not be resurfaced.
When the funding news was announced, Deborah Urquhart, cabinet member for environment, said: “This funding is superb news, enabling us to improve the Downs Link so we can do even more to encourage sustainable transport and provide a boost for the county’s rural economy, too.”
She added: “The improved off-road route will provide an excellent, family-friendly, free facility so people can get outside and enjoy the benefits of the West Sussex countryside.
“Once completed, the upgraded route and interlinking towns, villages and businesses will be promoted to attract visitors from outside of the usual tourism season of May to October and benefit the local economy.”