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 2019
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?
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.
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.
posted Jul 15, 2022
This research investigates the influence of layout and design on the severity of trail degradation.