Preview and Checklist for online NRT application


National Recreation Trail applications are processed on an annual cycle. For the designation to be announced for the following National Trails Day (celebrated first Saturday each June), applications to the Department of the Interior must be submitted by November 1.

Preview and Checklist for online application

This is a preview of the online NRT application process, to inform trail managers of the information and documents required. You may use this as a checklist to gather data for the online application. Basic information is entered on the database website, and supporting materials (maps, photos, etc.) in standard electronic formats can then be uploaded.

This application process is for trails on state, local, or private land, OR on federal land (outside the US Department of Agriculture). If your trail is on National Forest, National Grassland, or other land managed by the Department of Agriculture, see the USDA Application Process for NRTs.

Please note: This preview is for your own information only. All applications for NRT designation through the Department of the Interior must be made online through the Online Application Process.


Best Practice: in addition to the stated requirements we strongly recommend at least one high-resolution photo, centerline data, at least one support letter, and, in addition to applicant confirmation of land owner concurrence, provide a list of landowners.

Section 1 of 6: Trail Information


Trail Name

Trail Location

  • examples: “In Brandon State Park near Springfield, IA.” or “Railtrail that connects Millerville with Fort Claremont along the south shore of the Blue River northwest of Clark City.”



Directions to Trail

  • example: “From Springfield, take SR 897 west c. 6 miles to park entrance.” or “Many access points between Tampa and Fort Myers off of US 36.”

City(ies) / Township(s) crossed by the trail:

  • Separate multiple cities/townships with commas: Chicago, Oak Park, Forest Park


  • Separate multiple Counties with commas: Klamath, Lane


  • Use two-letter abbreviation
  • Separate multiple States with commas: CA, OR, WA

Congressional District(s)

  • Separate multiple Districts with commas: 1, 3

Short Description of Trail

  • A quick “snapshot” for news releases, 75 words is the recommended maximum.

Long Description of Trail

  • For use on the NRT website. 500-800 words recommended. State how your trail is nationally significant, what sets your trail apart from others. Highlight the trail’s main features, emphasizing such factors as connection with other trails, health and fitness benefits, youth involvement, service to diverse communities and urban populations, innovation, quality of design and construction, maintenance plan, cost-effective management strategies, partnerships and support, outstanding resources, and even relevant art installations and interpretive facilities and services. As appropriate, describe the trail’s history and evolution including concept, lay-out, partnerships, historic uses, political issues, and special events. Also describe current management direction: protection, safety program, maintenance, rules and regulations, signs, and associated recreation features.


Length of Trail Open to Public Use:

  • Miles
  • Loop?

Other Designations

  • Additional National Designations
  • Additional State Designations

Trail Type:

  • Backcountry Trail, Equestrian Trail, Fitness Trail, Greenway, Mountain Bike Trail, Nature Trail, Rail Trail, Snow Trail, Urban Trail/bikeway, Water Trail
  • Other Type


Allowed Uses - Check all that apply:

  • Bicycling (on pavement)
  • Bicycling (off pavement)
  • Boating, Motorized
  • Boating, non-motorized: Canoeing
  • Boating, non-motorized: Kayaking
  • Boating, non-motorized: Rafting
  • Boating, non-motorized: Sailing
  • Camping
  • Caving
  • Dogs - Mushing
  • Dogs - Off leash
  • Dogs - On leash
  • Equestrian - Riding
  • Equestrian - Pack trips
  • Equestrian - Other stock
  • Fishing
  • Heritage and History
  • Hunting
  • Ice Skating
  • Land Sailing
  • Motorized vehicles - ATV riding
  • Motorized vehicles - Four wheel drive
  • Motorized vehicles - Motorcycling
  • Motorized vehicles - OHV driving
  • Motorized vehicles - Snowmobiling
  • Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
  • Rock Climbing
  • Roller/Inline Skating
  • Sand Sailing
  • Skateboarding
  • Snow - Cross-country Skiing
  • Snow - Downhill Skiing
  • Snow - Snow Play, General
  • Snow - Snowshoeing
  • Swimming
  • Swimming - Diving/snorkeling
  • Wildlife Observation
  • Other Uses / Notes



  • Lowest elevation in feet
  • Highest elevation in feet

Width of Tread

  • Average width in inches
  • Minimum width in inches

Grade of Trail

  • Average %
  • Maximum %
  • Average cross-slope (side slope) %

Accessibility Information if available

  • Trailhead signage
  • Brochure
  • Website
  • Other


Primary Trail Surface

Additional Surfaces - Check all that apply

  • Asphalt
  • Boardwalk
  • Bituminous treatment
  • Bricks
  • Concrete
  • Crushed Rock
  • Grass or Vegetation Gravel
  • Paver Blocks
  • Puncheon
  • Rock, boulders
  • Rock, smooth
  • Sand
  • Snow or ice
  • Soil
  • Soil, compacted
  • Soil with stabilizer
  • Water, moving
  • Water, still
  • Wood chips
  • Wood, running plank


Open Dates

  • Enter mm/dd to mm/dd
  • Open From / to /
  • Seasonal Closures

Times of Operation

  • Open 24 Hours
  • Open Hours From / to /

Fees - Yes or No:

  • Admission Fee
  • Parking Fee
  • Permit Fee
  • Visiting and Fee Notes

Section 2 of 6: Contact Information

If the trail is designated as an NRT, the Trail Managing Agency or Organization will appear on the NRT certificate, along with the trail's name.

You will be given the opportunity to add additional contacts if there are multiple agencies or organizations that manage the trail. You will also designate a public information contact.


Trail Managing Agency or Organization

  • e.g. Smith County Parks and Recreation Agency Unit

Agency Unit

  • e.g. Jones Lake Park

Trail Manager's Name

  • First: Middle Initial: Last:
  • Title
  • Position

Mailing Address

  • City, State, Zip
  • Street Address for deliveries (if different from Mailing Address)

Phone and Fax

  • Use format: (xxx) xxx-xxxx



Designation Letter

If the trail is designated as an NRT, a letter of designation will be delivered along with the NRT Certificate to the street address of the managing agency/organization. The Trail Manager's name will be on the letter. However, if you would like a different name (e.g. department head, mayor, president of the organization, etc.) and/or address to appear on the letter, please enter the information below.

  • Name First: Middle Initial: Last:
  • Title
  • Position
  • Street Address for Deliveries
  • City, State, Zip
  • Phone

Section 3 of 6: Owner Consent and State Support

Directions: Upload the appropriate documents to address the following requirements if they apply to your trail:

1. All public and private property owners of trail lands or waters must give written consent to this application. (*Not required if the applicant is the sole owner of the property).

2. Trails on State, local government, or private land (anything other than Federal) must have a statement of support from the State Trails Administrator/Coordinator.

Documents must be in one of these formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx

Best Practice: in addition to confirmation of land owner concurrence, it is recommended to provide a complete list of all affected landowners.

Section 4 of 6: Primary Trail Photo and Primary Trail Map

Directions: In this section, please upload the appropriate documents to enable reviewers as well as the public to find the trail.

Please Note: When you upload a photo you affirm that you have secured the rights for the photo to be used for publicity and promotion of National Recreation Trails and are giving us permission to do so. This includes use on the websites of the NRT Program, American Trails, and cooperating agencies and organizations, as well as their noncommercial publications. This also includes use by and ViewRanger in promotion of National Recreation Trails through agreements with American Trails. You retain all other rights to your photos.

The photo must be a .jpg, and will be resized to 500 pixels wide. A horizontally-oriented photo will look best.

The map must be a .pdf or .jpg

Best Practice: We strongly recommend at least one high-resolution photo (at least 2,000 pixels wide).

Section 5 of 6: Additional Supporting Materials (optional)

Directions: In this section you may upload more photos and maps, brochures, letters, or resolutions of support, and additional websites. Photographs especially help convey a sense of the trail experience, the setting, and special facilities.

Materials to be uploaded must be in one of these formats: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .jpg, .kml, .kmz, .gpx

Best Practice: in addition to the stated requirements we strongly recommend uploading centerline data for the entire trail section to be designated.

Section 6 of 6: Print, Sign, and Upload the Signature Page

To complete the application process you must submit a signature page.

Step 1. Download the signature page.

Step 2. Print, Sign and Scan the Signature page.

Step 3. Upload the signature page using the form on this screen of the online application screen