National Scenic and Historic Trail Administration

This manual provides the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) policy and program guidance on administering congressionally designated National Trails as assigned by the Department of the Interior within the National Landscape Conservation System (NLCS) and this manual describes the BLM’s roles, responsibilities, agency interrelationships, and policy requirements for National Trail Administrators

by Bureau of Land Management


6250 NSHT Administration


National Scenic and Historic Trails (National Trails) are authorized and designated only by Act of Congress. Congress may authorize the BLM, through the Secretary, as the agency most likely to administer a designated trail, to make studies for the purpose of determining the feasibility and desirability of designating other trails as National Scenic or National Historic Trails (National Trail Feasibility Study).

The Secretary charged with National Trail administration following congressional designation of a trail executes requirements under the National Trails System Act (NTSA), which may include establishing an advisory council for each trail, completing a trailwide Comprehensive Plan, and leading efforts to develop the trail in coordination with land managing agencies. National Trail administration responsibilities are fulfilled as directed in the NTSA in coordination with tribes; other National Trail Administrators; National Trail managing agencies (including all BLM public land managers along the congressionally designated National Trail); other Federal, state, and local government agencies; private and nonprofit organizations; willing landowners; land users; and individuals (herein referred to as tribes, affected agencies, willing landowners, partners, and interested parties).

One of the purposes of the NTSA is to encourage public/private partnerships as a founding principle. Interested publics or grassroots organizations work on, help identify the location of, and assist in managing a subject trail along with the agencies responsible for administration and management of the trail area.

Published July 13, 2012

About the Author


The Bureau of Land Management in the US Dept. of the Interior sponsors many courses and workshops through a variety of training opportunities. Trails, recreation, land management, technical training, and public involvement are topics that are frequently covered. The BLM has also been a leader in establishing and developing the National Trails Training Partnership.

More articles by this author

More Articles in this Category

2020 Annual CRT Achievement Awards

The Coalition for Recreational Trails is pleased to announce the winners for the 2020 Tom Petri Annual Achievement Awards in recognition of outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program (RTP) funds.

30 New National Recreation Trails Have Been Designated

On October 22, 2020 U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt announced 30 new national recreation trails in 25 states, adding more than 1,275 miles to the National Trails System.

Recreational Trail Program Funds Help Create Sign Language Program

Kartchner Caverns State Park provides tours that see over 150,000 people annually and the information that rangers provide on the tours is crucial to the experience. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community has been missing out on a vital part of the experience, until now.

Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails Comprehensive Management and Use Plan / Final Environmental Impact Statement

This Comprehensive Management and Use Plan / Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, and Pony Express National Historic Trails is shaped, in part, by the planning requirements found in section 5(f) of the National Trails System Act. It focuses on the trails’ purpose and significance, issues and concerns related to current conditions along the trails, resource protection, visitor experience and use, and long-term administrative and management objectives. Elements of the proposed plan have been developed in cooperation with federal, state, and local agencies, as well as nonprofit trails organizations — the entities that form the core of any partnership for national historic trails.