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Our National Trails Systems

National Trails System

The National Trails System Act, Public Law 90-543, became law on October 2, 1968. The Act and its subsequent amendments authorized a national system of trails, and defined four categories of national trails:

  • National Scenic Trails (NST)
    provide outdoor recreation and the conservation and enjoyment of significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities
  • National Historic Trails (NHT)
    follow travel routes of national historic significance
  • National Recreational Trails (NRT)
    are in, or reasonably accessible to, urban areas on federal, state, or private lands
  • Connecting or Side Trails
    provide access to or among the other classes of trails

Visit the National Park Service's National Trail System website.
Visit the Bureau of Land Management's National Scenic and Historic Trails website.
Visit the U.S. Forest Service's National Trail System website.

Current National Trails

Since the designation of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail and the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in 1968, the system has grown to now include 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails as listed below. The Old Spanish National Historic Trail is an important part of this impressive group of trails representing the history of our country.

National Historic Trails

National Scenic Trails

Partnership for the National Trail System

The Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) connects member not-for-profit trail organizations and Federal agency partners to further the protection, completion, and stewardship of the 30 National Scenic and Historic Trails within the National Trails System.

The PNTS advocates on behalf of the National Trails System as a whole for land preservation and stewardship resources. Other major roles of the PNTS include the collection and dissemination of National Trails news and the development of outreach initiatives and youth programming.

Since 1997, the Partnership has embodied the collaboration of the National Trails System Act and has advocated for the trails. The Partnership continues to seek new partnerships and relationships both within and outside the trails community to foster a strong National Trail System well-connected to communities, businesses, and civic groups.


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