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2008 NRT designations by USDA

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THE NATIONAL RECREATION TRAILS (NRT) program works to preserve and celebrate our nation's pathways. We invite you to explore America’s great national system of trails and greenways.

arrow See the year by year Annual NRT Designations page

arrow Search over 1,000 National Recreation Trails in the online database

arrow See the 2003 U.S. Department of Agriculture NRT Designations page for additional trails on National Forests and Grasslands


Ozark Trail designated as National Recreation Trail

Map of Alabama

A 262 mile stretch of the Ozark Trail in southeastern Missouri became the newest addition to the National Recreation Trails System with the signature of Eastern Region Deputy Regional Forester Forest L. Starkey on May 28, 2008. The Ozark Trail traverses clear Ozark streams, dry granite barrens and panoramic mountaintops, travels near wetlands and fens (a fen is a bog-like area, generally with peaty soils, that is kept constantly moist or wet by spring-fed groundwater and dominated by sedges, forbs and some shrubs), and through deep Ozark forests, providing an opportunity for trail users to experience the variety of the Ozarks.


grahpic photo of river and trees
Current River – Steve Kaub, Photographer

The Ozark Trail (OT) began in 1977, when a group of public land managers, trail users, and private landowners envisioned a long-distance (550 mile) trail from St. Louis to the Arkansas border, connecting with the 200 mile long Ozark Highlands Trail in Arkansas.

Of the proposed 550 miles, 360 miles have been constructed, including approximately 225 miles of trail located on and managed by the Mark Twain National Forest. Over 200 of the 262 miles of National Recreation Trail are on the Forest. Though not all sections are completed or connected through at this time, the longest stretch of through trail is over 215 miles in length.

The OT can be used for long distance backpacking, weekend trips, day hikes or half-hour strolls; many segments can be enjoyed by equestrians and mountain bikers, while others are restricted to foot traffic only.


photo of many people along trail with tools
Making the Connection – Ceremonial Completion of
the Middle Fork Section


Volunteers have been involved in the construction, maintenance and operation of the OT from the beginning, and their roles have become increasingly important over the past few years.

The Ozark Trail Association (OTA) was formed in 2002 as a volunteer non-profit organization whose mission is to develop, maintain, preserve, promote and protect the rugged, natural beauty of the Ozark Trail. Since that time, the OTA, working with the land managers and other interested members of the Council, has become a leader in construction, maintenance, and promotion of the Ozark Trail, and have donated tens of thousands of hours of labor.

The National Trail System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543) authorized creation of a national trail system comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails. National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails designated by Congress, National Recreation Trails designated by the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture (through Regional Foresters) to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance.


graphic photo of bikes on trail
Taking a break to chat with mountain bikers who
couldn’t wait until construction was complete to start
riding new section of trail. – Middle Fork Section

National Recreation Trails benefit from the prestige and increased visibility of being a part of the National Trail System, which promotes special and outstanding trails across the nation.

The National Recreation Trails program recognizes and commemorates the diversity of our nation's trails and facilitates numerous healthy recreational activities in a variety of settings and landscapes. They are an important part of America's recreation, conservation, and transportation environment. NRTs:

For more information:

Visit the Ozark Trail Association website


trail noteWhat makes a trail a National Recreation Trail? Learn more about the NRT program and the effort to preserve and celebrate America's greatest trails.


For more great photos of NRTs, see the photos and dozens of entries in the NRT Photo Contest, sponsored by American Trails.

Visit some of the wide variety of designated NRTs in Bureau of Land Management areas.

See how to update online trail information in the National Recreation Trails online database or send changes by e-mail to




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The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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Promote your trail through the National Recreation Trails Program


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