Browse Common Topics
Search our Website

NRT Designation Schedule

Hosted by


National Recreation Trail designation is an honor given to existing trails that have been nominated and meet the requirements for connecting people to local resources and improving their quality of life. The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorizes the NRT designations, which are now part of a continuing campaign to promote community partnerships and to foster innovative ways to encourage physical fitness.

arrow For year-by-year details of the annual designations and links to featured trails, please visit the NRT Annual Designations Index.


There are two procedures for National Recreation Trail applications— if your trail is on land administered by and associated with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Recreation Areas and associated lands) follow that process; if not, follow Department of Interior process. Details on designated trails are included in the online NRT database.


U.S. Department of the Interior
Annual Designation Process

For trails on private, city, county, or state land, or on Federal land NOT overseen by the Department of Agriculture

Nominations for NRT designation for the Department of the Interior is done through the Online NRT Application Form. For examples of the kinds of trails that are eligible, see the trails designated as NRTs in the Annual Designations Index since 2001.



November 1: Deadline for submittal of current year's online NRT applications to DOI NRT Coordinator in Washington, DC.

  • NRT Program Coordinator checks new applications
  • Sends e-mail confirming receipt of applications

December 15: Applications proceed to field review.

February 15: Regional NRT Manager or Federal agency NRT Manager provides recommendation to DOI NRT Program Coordinator.

March 15: DOI NRT Program Coordinator forwards the recommended trails for approval by the Secretary of the Interior.

End of May / Early June: New NRT designations announced before National Trails Day

  • Department of the Interior sends news release officially announcing new NRT designations
  • Local announcements and designation events
  • Trail descriptions and graphics are added to the state by state NRT pages
  • Newly designated trails are added to the on-line searchable database of NRTs
  • Plaque, Secretarial letter, and trail markers mailed to each newly designated NRT

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Designation Process

For trails on National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Recreation Areas and associated land

To nominate a trail on USDA land, contact your USDA Regional NRT Coordinator. See examples of trails on USDA lands that have been designated.



NRT applications (establishment report) with local support of District Rangers and Forest Supervisors are sent at any time to USDA Forest Service Regional NRT Coordinator (reference FSM 2353), (however applications should be submitted prior to February 15th to allow processing and designation prior to National Trails Day, annually).

  • Regional NRT Coordinator reviews draft establishment report, forwards draft to National NRT Coordinator for consistency.
  • Makes follow-up contact with applicants to request additional information and site visit if necessary

USFS Regional NRT Coordinator forwards application to Regional Forester.

  • Concurrence/endorsement from Regional NRT Coordinator
  • Includes support letters

Designations approved by Regional Forester.

New NRT designations announced with copy of signed NRT Designation and Establishment Report sent to National NRT Coordinator in Washington DC.

June – New NRT designations announced

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

arrow See the state-by-state index of Featured National Recreation Trails

The National Recreation Trails program is jointly administered by the federal land management agencies (National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) in conjunction with nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website at


trail noteEach year nominations for designation of new National Recreation Trails may be submitted. Details of the program may be found on the NRT website hosted by American Trails. The National Recreation Trail Program recognizes trails that provide opportunities for all Americans to enjoy the out-of-doors and improve the quality of life of our communities.



trail database


Facebook Twitter

Stay up to date on legislative issues for trails, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


trail database

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


The NTTP Online Calendar connects you with courses, conferences, and trail-related training


Promote your trail through the National Recreation Trails Program


PDF  Some of our documents are in PDF format and require free Adobe Acrobat Reader software.
  Download Acrobat Reader


section 508 logo American Trails and NTTP support accessibility with Section 508: read more.