National Recreation Trails are existing land-based and water-based trails that provide close to home recreation opportunities on Federal, State and local lands. National Recreation Trail designation promotes some of our country's highest-caliber trails with the intention of providing recreation access to rural and urban communities, economic development through tourism, and healthy recreation opportunities. National Recreation Trails are recognized by the federal government, with the consent of any Federal, State, Tribal, local, nonprofit, or private entity having jurisdiction over these lands. Today over 1,300 of these trails have been designated throughout the country. They are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized creation of a national system of trails comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails.
National Recreation Trail applications are processed on an annual cycle. Applications to the Department of the Interior must be submitted by November 1. Applications on US Department of Agriculture lands have their own, separate application process. Applications to the National Water Trails System follow the Department of Interior schedule.
National Water Trails are a sub-set of the National Recreation Trails Program.
The 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.
Your assistance will help ensure that your designated
National Recreation Trail (NRT) or National Water Trails (NWT) is accurately reflected, and the NRT database
and associated records are complete and accurate.
webinar: Fundamentals of National Recreation Trails
Learn about the benefits to designating your trail(s) as a National Recreation Trail (NRT), the history of NRTs, the process for trails to become NRTs, and more.
webinar: National Water Trails
This webinar will dive in deeper on the process for trails to become designated National Water Trails, which are a subset of the National Recreation Trails.
American Trails sponsors the annual Photo Contest for designated National Recreation Trails. In celebration of these great trails, we are presenting awards in several categories to highlight the diversity of NRTs, from backcountry trails to urban greenways.