Why YOU Should Submit Your Trail for National Recreation Trail (NRT) Designation

Find out more about the National Recreation Trail program and the steps needed to apply.

by Taylor Goodrich, Communication and Media Specialist, American Trails

What is a National Recreation Trail?

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.

Where does American Trails come in?

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. Additionally we create material for download and to distribution at conferences, including a yearly downloadable calendar which featured all newly designated National Recreation Trails.

Why should you apply?

  • You already know your trail is amazing, but NRT designation is a way to show everyone that your trail is amazing.
  • By being part of the National Trails System you are helping to show the world the United States invests in trails.
  • If your trail is picked to be an NRT you will receive national news coverage as a part of press releases from both American Trails and from the federal U.S. government.
  • Letters of support for fundraising and trail protection efforts.
  • Some state funding programs also consider NRT designation in allocating Recreational Trails Program, Transportation Enhancements, and other funding administered through the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
  • Access to networking and training opportunities.

American Trails has provided a guide to the application process which can be found here.

About the Author

Taylor Goodrich started with American Trails in January 2018 as Communication and Media Specialist. Taylor has worked with the National Recreation Trail (NRT) Ambassadors since the beginning of the program and has helped shape the program to where it is today. Taylor currently lives in Dallas, Texas, which is also where she grew up and where she attended the University of North Texas receiving her degree in History. While in college she started doing freelance work editing and writing, and also got into graphic design and discovered she loves the creativity and craft of digital arts. After college she traveled quite a bit, and lived in both the Pacific Northwest and in New Mexico, and while in both of those places took full advantage of what the outdoors had to offer. After moving back to Texas she started moving towards doing graphic design, social media, and communications work full time, and she has contracted with several companies from tech startups, to music festivals, to law firms, to grow their social media and digital communications presence. Taylor loves hiking and kayaking especially, and is glad to be working with an organization that fights for further accessibility and stewardship of our nation’s trails. She feels very lucky that in this position she will be able to use her professional skills and passion for something she is also very personally passionate about, and in helping to grow American Trails.

Contact: [email protected]

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