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

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.

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.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

The strategy described here provides guidance for the administration of the entire trail and a vision to be fulfilled through future, specific resources studies, and site and segment management plans. Much of the basis for the “Comprehensive Administrative Strategy” was developed during the earlier comprehensive management plan efforts.

National Scenic and Historic Trails Strategy and Work Plan

The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) National Landscape Conservation System Office is pleased to provide you with the National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHT) Strategy and Work Plan. The purpose of this national-level strategy is to provide a 10-year framework for the development of program guidance and direction for improved management of the BLM’s NSHT Program.