National Recreation Trail
National Recreation Trail (NRT) is a designation given to existing trail
A trail is a path with a rough beaten or dirt/stone surface used for travel. Trails may be for use only by walkers and in some places are the main access route to remote settlements...
s that contribute to health, conservation, and recreation goals in the United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
. Over 1,000 trails in all 50 U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...
s, available for public use and ranging from less than a mile to 485 miles (780.5 km) in length, have been designated as NRTs on federal
Federal lands are lands in the United States for which ownership is claimed by the U.S. federal government.-Primary federal land holders:*Bureau of Land Management*United States Forest Service*United States Fish and Wildlife Service*National Park Service...
, state, municipal, and privately-owned lands. Trails may be nominated for designation as NRTs each year. The NRT online database includes information on most designated trails. National Recreational Trails are part of the National Trails System
National Trails System
The National Trails System was created by the National Trails System Act The Act created a series of National trails "to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation." Specifically,...
Most NRTs are hiking trails, but a significant number are multi-use trails or bike paths. A few are water trail
Water trails or Blueways are marked routes on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, canals and coastlines for people using small non-motorized boats such as kayaks, canoes, rafts, or rowboats. Some trails may be suitable for float tubing...
The National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...
(part of the United States Department of the Interior
United States Department of the Interior
The United States Department of the Interior is the United States federal executive department of the U.S. government responsible for the management and conservation of most federal land and natural resources, and the administration of programs relating to Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native...
) and the United States Forest Service
United States Forest Service
The United States Forest Service is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation's 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass...
(part of the United States Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...
) jointly administer the National Recreation Trails Program with help from a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, the lead nonprofit
Nonprofit organization is neither a legal nor technical definition but generally refers to an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals, rather than distributing them as profit or dividends...
for developing and promoting NRTs.
The National Trails System Act of 1968 (Public Law 90-543) authorized creation of a national trail system composed of National Recreation Trails and National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail
National Scenic Trail is a designation for protected areas in the United States that consist of trails of particular natural beauty.National Scenic Trails were authorized under the National Trails System Act of 1968 along with National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails...
s. National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail
National Historic Trail is a designation for a protected area in the United States containing historic trails and surrounding areas. They are part of the National Trails System....
s were added in 1978. While National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails may only be designated by an act of Congress
Act of Congress
An Act of Congress is a statute enacted by government with a legislature named "Congress," such as the United States Congress or the Congress of the Philippines....
, National Recreation Trails may be designated by the Secretary of Interior
United States Secretary of the Interior
The United States Secretary of the Interior is the head of the United States Department of the Interior.The US Department of the Interior should not be confused with the concept of Ministries of the Interior as used in other countries...
or the Secretary of Agriculture
United States Secretary of Agriculture
The United States Secretary of Agriculture is the head of the United States Department of Agriculture. The current secretary is Tom Vilsack, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on 20 January 2009. The position carries similar responsibilities to those of agriculture ministers in other...
to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance in response to an application from the trail's managing agency or organization. Through designation, these trails are recognized as part of America's national system of trails.
The National Recreation Trail Program supports designated NRTs with an array of benefits, including promotion, technical assistance, a newsletter, email alerts, 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." A state-by-state index provide photos and details on featured trails. The first-ever NRT Photo Contest was sponsored in 2003 by American Trails and is continuing each year. A Request for Proposals for art projects on National Recreation Trails was also undertaken.