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Featured National Recreation Trails

Hosted by AmericanTrails.org

Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.

 

USDA designates Missouri’s Ozark Trail as a National Recreation Trail

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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. 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.

 

photo of river and trail

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, 346 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 people 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.

 

photo of bikes on dirt 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:

 


 

trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Trail managers can update online trail information in the NRT database. You may also e-mail information on minor changes or to update Featured NRT pages.

 

 

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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: www.AmericanTrails.org

 

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

 

Promote your trail through the National Recreation Trails Program

 

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