This document is designed for National Trails System partners: Federal trail administrators, local land managers and landowners, volunteer partners, and State and Tribal agencies. It focuses on America’s national scenic and historic trails with only brief mention of national recreation trails and connecting-and-side trails. It provides background to Director’s Order #45, National Trails System (see Section 2.6).
As an orientation guide, this reference manual is intended to serve both new staff and "old hands," providing a ready-reference manual to their many responsibilities. It documents several decades of experience in administering and managing components of the National Trails System.
America’s national scenic and historic trails form a remarkable network of well over 50,000 miles of trails that protects and links together many of America's most significant natural, cultural, and recreational resources. They provide opportunities for millions of Americans to enjoy the outdoors. National scenic and historic trails are the backbone of the National Trails System. Both kinds are planned and administered under the authorities of the National Trails System Act (NTSA, 16 U.S.C. 1241-1251). These trails are unique among Federally administered areas, for they typically:
However, little is standard about these trails. From the Appalachian National Scenic Trail to the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail, each national trail has its own unique identity and management
challenges. Practices vary widely. The suggestions of this reference manual should be considered generic, aiming for servicewide and systemwide consistency, and may be varied to suit the needs of individual trails.
This reference manual links the authorities of the National Trails System Act to the other authorities, practices, regulations, and procedures of the agencies that administer and manage them.
Published February 06, 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.