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Is your trail a good candidate for National Recreation Trail designation? This page will tell you the requirements and how to nominate your trail.
USDOI APPLICATION for NRT designation (for all trails EXCEPT those on National Forests and Grasslands)
USDA PROCESS for NRT designation (for land administered by the US Department of Agriculture: National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Recreation Areas, and associated lands)
Learn about National Water Trails System designation
Any public or private trail manager, operating a trail that meets the definition and criteria below may apply for NRT designation.
A trail is a travel way established either through construction or use and is passable by at least one or more of the following, including but not limited to: foot traffic, stock, watercraft, bicycles, in-line skates, wheelchairs, cross-country skis, off-road recreation vehicles such as motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs, and four-wheel drive vehicles.
Roads and highways suitable for passenger car travel are not eligible for NRT designation. Other programs are more appropriate for their recognition, such as the National Scenic Byways Program: see http://www.byways.org or call (800) 429-9297.
For examples of the kinds of trails that eligible, see descriptions of trails designated as NRTs in NRT designations year by year.
Lena Lake Trail in Washington's Olympic National Forest
The trail must be open to public use and be designed, constructed, and maintained according to best management practices, in keeping with the use anticipated. Trails that demonstrate state-of-the-art design and management are especially encouraged to apply for NRT designation.
The trail is in compliance with applicable land use plans and environmental laws.
The trail will be open for public use for at least 10 consecutive years after designation.
NRT designation must be supported by the landowner(s), public or private, whose property the trail crosses.
The Painted Desert National Recreation Trail in the
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge
There are two procedures depending on whether the trail is on land administered by the US Department of Agriculture (typically National Forests), or on any other land.
If your trail is on federal land administered by (or associated with) the US Department of Agriculture:
The USDA Forest Service has authority for designating NRTs on land administered by the Department of Agriculture (National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Recreation Areas) and associated lands.
See the list of Regional Contacts for NRTs for the USDA Forest Service
See the details of the US Forest Service designation process for NRTs.
Contact the USFS National Recreation Trails Program Coordinator, Jonathan Stephens, USDA Forest Service, (202) 205-1701 - Fax (202) 205-1145 - Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If your trail is on other federal land (outside the Department of Agriculture) or on state, local, or private land:
The Secretary of the Interior is the designating official for NRT's on all other federal lands and on state, local, and private lands, and has delegated responsibility to the National Park Service for the overall administration of the NRT program under that department's jurisdiction.
See the schedule and timeline for Department of Interior designation process for NRTs.
Online Application Process: Nominations for NRT designation for the Department of the Interior are done online through the NRT Database. See a checklist of the information and documents required. Supporting materials, such as maps, brochures, photos, and letter of support must be in electronic format and are uploaded as part of the online submission process.
Note that trails on state, local government, or private land (anything other than Federal) should submit a letter of support from the appropriate State Trails Administrator/Coordinator. See a Sample Letter of Support.
See the list of Regional Contacts for NRTs for assistance by National Park Service staff.
The Washington, DC contact is the Department of the Interior's NRT Coordinator at National Park Service: (202) 354-6910 or email: email@example.com
National Recreation Trail applications are processed by both departments on an annual cycle.