Great Photos of America’s Trails

Bring a camera on the trail!

by Stuart Macdonald, Trail Consultant, American Trails

Jonathan Voeltz on the Tunnel Hill National Recreation Trail, Illinois

In 2003 somebody came up with the idea of a photo contest for pictures of National Recreation Trails (NRT). It has become a fascinating annual event for those of us who watch the entries come in, and then try to sort out some winners from the remarkable collection of images.

Because American Trails is the lead nonprofit for promoting and nurturing the NRT recognition program, we’re always looking for ways to make more people aware of these great trails. We’re also involved because of our role in representing ALL trails interests, from urban to Wilderness to motorized to water trails. The National Recreation Trails include the same variety of activities among the roster of designated trails.

Since these trails are so different and cover the entire country, we came up with 19 categories for our winning pictures. We’d like to recognize Rob Grant, State Trails Coordinator for Alabama. Because he has made a point of promoting the NRT program as well as the contest in his state, close to 100 of the 275 photos show trails in Alabama.

A special thanks also goes out to our friend and star volunteer John Ansbro, who has pored over every one of the contest photos since the first year. John, a city planner in Evansville, IN, cheerfully finds ways to complicate the process while making it all more fun.

We’d like to see some new trails, so check out the NRTs when you’re heading outdoors, and bring your camera!

— Stuart Macdonald, National Recreation Trails program manager for American Trails

About the Author

Stuart Macdonald spent 19 years as Colorado's State Trails Coordinator. He is the editor of American Trails Magazine. During 1998-99, he represented State Trail Administrators on the national committee that proposed regulations for accessible trails. He chaired the National Recreational Trails Committee, which advised the Federal Highway Administration in the first years of the Recreational Trails Program. Stuart grew up in San Diego and his main outdoor interest besides trails is surfing. He has a BA in English from San Francisco State and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Utah State.

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