Laws & Policies

Establishment of a National Trails System

The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorized a feasibility study for a "Potomac Heritage Trail," subsequently completed and published by the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in 1974. In 1983 an amendment to the Act (P.L. 98-11) recognized a corridor for development of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail based on the narrative and a generalized map in the feasibility study. Such "authorizing" legislation for the Trail states that, initially, the Trail will be "within the external boundaries of federal facilities." The Act also authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into agreements with various entities for management of Trail segments. The Departmental Manual delegates responsibility for administration to the National Park Service.


Creating Continuity of Experience throughout the Trail Network

The Trail embodies a wide range of resource types, management interests and users. The need to establish and maintain physical, graphic and interpretive continuity between and among Trail segments is essential to experience the Trail as a network with national significance.

Identity Guidelines for Trail Partners: Trail segment managers are encouraged to review and use a set of guidelines to develop graphic and interpretive continuity between and among Trail segments. Click here to download a set of the guidelines (PDF, 19.3 MB). Assistance is available from the Trail Office.

Trail Route Marking: Use of the official Trail marker (i.e., logo) is the most common element to establish continuity throughout the Trail network and to provide users with a measure of confidence that they have located and/or are following an intended route. Trail managers are encouraged to use the Trail marker at trailheads and at major transitions between trail types and trail corridor attributes. In places where blazes are used to mark routes, Trail segment managers are encouraged to use a color that complements the Trail logo-- white; a dark blue (Pantone Color Management System 299); or black--to establish and maintain a graphic identity and to ensure adequate contrast between route markers and background colors.


National Park Service, A Foundation for Planning, Administration, Management and Interpretation of Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail Segments and for Coordination among Trail Segment Management Partners, Federal Register Volume 77, Number 7, Page 1723 (Wednesday, January 11, 2012, from the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office []; FR Doc No: 2012-280; and under "Park Planning" on this site.

Aries Arditi, Ph.D., "Effective Color Contrast: Designing for People with Partial Sight and Color Deficiencies" (Lighthouse International,, accessed 20 August 2012).


Firearm Regulations

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law makes possession of firearms in national parks subject to local and state firearms laws.

It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearms laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please visit the following websites.

West Virginia

West Virginia State Law

See sections 61-7-1 to 61-7-15 and 20-2-6a

West Virginia Attorney General


Maryland State Law

See Maryland Code, Public Safety, Title 5

See also Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 4

Maryland Attorney General

District of Columbia

District of Columbia Law

See Division I, Title 7, Subtitle J, Chapter 25

See also Division IV, Title 22, Subtitle VI, Chapter 45

District of Columbia Attorney General


Virginia Law

See sections 18.2-279 through 18.2-312

Virginia Attorney General

Federal law continues to prohibit firearms in federal facilities in this park. Those federal facilities are marked with signs at public entrances.

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