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

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.

Attached document published July 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

Trails For All Americans

posted Aug 23, 2023

What would it take for all Americans to be able to go out their front doors and within fifteen minutes be on trails that wind through their cities, towns or villages and bring them back without retracing steps?

Public Lands and the Continental Divide Trail Study

posted Feb 14, 2023

The primary goal of this study was to understand who uses the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), how they use it, their preferences, and the economic impact of the CDT in the region. Additional data were also collected regarding protecting public lands and using the Continental Divide Trail in Colorado.

Pacific Crest Train Assn. Crew Leadership: Managing Volunteers

posted Aug 17, 2022

For students with moderate to extensive trail building experience who want to lead trail crews and work parties. Not a construction techniques class; this is about effective leadership. Students will have classroom and field work in the following topics: work day responsibilities, risk assessment and safety, tool safety and tool talk, leadership and team building, practical experience leading volunteers.

The Influence of Layout on Appalachian Trail Soil Loss, Widening, and Muddiness

posted Jul 15, 2022

This research investigates the influence of layout and design on the severity of trail degradation.

167 views • posted 08/17/2020