According the 1966 study proposing the National Trails System, “Trails for America,” National Scenic Trails are to be "a standard for excellence in the routing, construction, maintenance, and marking… Each should stand out in its own right as a recreation resource of superlative quality and of physical challenge."
National Scenic Trail designation is a rare and prestigious achievement that has been awarded only 11 times since 1966. Trails hoping to receive a National Scenic designation must be contiguous and are typically more than 100 miles in length. Each trail will undergo a thorough process that takes, on average, between six and 15 years to achieve designation. The most recent designations were in 2009 which added the Pacific Northwest Trail, the Arizona Trail, and the New England National Scenic Trail. These were the first trails designated as National Scenic Trails since 1983—a drought of 26 years.
According to the National Park Service (the agency which oversees the designation process), “A trail is most likely to succeed in designation if there is a strong, well-organized, citizen-based organization working on behalf of the trail.”
National scenic trails require four steps to become fully established:
Program Lead, National Trails System
Department of the Interior
National Park Service
1849 C Street, NW, Rm 1344
Washington, DC 20240
On behalf of the thousands of diverse trail users our collective organizations represent, we urge appropriators to adequately invest in our nation’s trails.
Specific skills used in Interpreting regulations and legislation; applying federal laws on environmental, historic issues; providing accessible routes under the Americans with Disabilities Act; developing and enforcing trail regulations; responding to legal and liability issues.
Every year hundreds of projects across the country use Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funding to complete new projects and improve existing infrastructure. These are two recent highlights of how those funds are being used on the ground.
Have questions about funding your trail? Check out these answers from presenters that have successfully courted private foundations to give you a holistic view of how projects can be pushed to the next level by engaging the private sector.