Find out more about the National Recreation Trail program and the steps needed to apply.
The National Trails System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543) authorized creation of a national system of trails comprised of National Recreation Trails, National Scenic Trails, and National Historic Trails.
While National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may only be designated by an act of Congress, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance. Through designation, these trails are recognized as part of America's national system of trails.
The National Recreation Trails Program supports designated NRT's with an array of benefits, including promotion, technical assistance, and networking. Its goal is to promote the use and care of existing trails and stimulate the development of new trails to create a national network of trails and realize the vision of "Trails for All Americans."
The application deadline for designation is November 1 of every year and designated trails are announced the following June during National Trails Month.
American Trails is the non-governmental organization responsible for supporting the NRT program. We manage the national database of NRTs, carry NRT signs in our online store for purchase, and work in a number of ways to promote NRTs to the general public. This includes managing the NRT Ambassador Program, which connects volunteers from across the nation with trails in their region to collect data, help create maps, and keep database information current. Additionally we create material for download and to distribution at conferences, including a yearly downloadable calendar which featured all newly designated National Recreation Trails.
American Trails has provided a guide to the application process which can be found here.