Trails Across America (secondary 8th-12th)
- Grade Level:
- Eighth Grade-Twelfth Grade
- Colonial History, Commerce and Industry, Community, Design, Entrepreneurs, Geography, Government, Health, Hispanic or Latino American History and Culture, Historic Preservation, History, Immigration, Landscapes, Mexican War, Military and Wartime History, Physical Education, Physical Fitness, Pioneer America, Planning/Development, Recreation / Leisure / Tourism, Recreation Ecology, Social Studies, Sociology, Westward Expansion
- 2 or more class periods
- Group Size:
- Up to 36
- National/State Standards:
- 8th Grade:1, 4
MS Studies: 1, 3, 4
World History 1750- Present: 1, 3,4
US History 1877 to Present: 3, 4, 5
World Geography: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
- trails, historic trail, scenic trail, human migration, recreation, outdoor recreation, Healthy Parks, healthy parks healthy living
OverviewStudents will work in pairs to research National Historic and Scenic Trails and develop a compare and contrast report of two trails. Students will work in pairs to research and compare two scenic trails or two historic trails (see list). They will present their reports orally to the rest of the class. Visual aids are to be encouraged. If display boards are used as part of the assignment, the teacher should obtain permission to display them in the school or at a public library.
For the complete lesson plan, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-305-7417. Please indicate whether or not you need an accessible lesson plan.
Enduring Understanding: The United States Government provides services that preserve and protect our cultural and natural resources.
Essential Question: What can we learn from, and enjoy about our National Scenic Trails and National Historic Trails?
The students will:
1) research National Trails System
2) research and develop a comparison and contrast of two National Trails
3) learn how national trails connect to the past and present histories of our country
4) present an oral report
The National Trails System was legislated in 1968. These trails provide for outdoor recreation needs, promote the enjoyment, appreciation, and preservation of open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources, and encourage public access and citizen involvement.
There are four trail designations in the National Trail System, National Historic Trails (NHT) and National Scenic Trails (NST) are established by Congress. National Recreation Trails (NRT) and connecting/side trails are recognized by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture. The trail designations are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
National Scenic Trails are continuous protected scenic corridors that offer superlative recreational experiences. National Historic Trails commemorate prominent routes of exploration, migration, trade, communication, or military action. Today they generally consist of remnant sites, trail segments, or associated structures. Most are linked together by auto tour routes. National recreation trails recognize existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life.
These trails are legislated by the federal government and managed by the National Park Service under the executive branch of the United States government.
1.) "National Trails System Map and Guide" (found at https://www.nps.gov/hfc/carto/nps-trails.htm or call 1800-305-7417 to check hard-copy availability)
2.) Information about the National Trail System (on the back of the map or online at www.nps.gov/nts or available upon request from each trail management unit
3.) Materials to produce a written report
4.) Option: materials to produce visual aids
Student Task: Students will research information about their assigned pair of National Trails. They will write a report, develop visuals and report orally.
1.) Students will work in pairs to research and write a 3-5 page report that compares and contrasts two trails.
Pick from the list:
Appalachian National Scenic Trail vs. Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Ice Age National Scenic Trail vs. Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail vs. Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
Florida National Scenic Trail vs. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail vs. New England National Scenic Trail
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail vs. California National Historic Trail
Iditarod National Historic Trail vs. Pony Express National Historic Trail
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail vs. El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail vs. Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
Oregon National Trail vs. El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail vs. Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Nez Perce National Historic Trail vs. Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail vs. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail vs. Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
2.) They should contact the National Park units that manage those trails. Contact may be made via email, phone call or letter.
3.) Students should recall, relate and utilize information that they previously learned throughout their school careers.
4.) After they have completed their reports they will present the report to the remainder of the class.
Students should include:
• Trail names, locations, cardinal directions and lengths
• What the trail represents (factually and/or aesthetically)
• History of the Trail
• Past use of the trail
• Present use of the trail
• Climate and terrain
• Environmental features
• Types of human habitations, terrain, and environments surrounding the trail (urban, rural, forest, desert, etc)
• By whom and how the trail is maintained and managed
• Any special management or use concerns
Visual aid should include:
• Map of the US or region illustrating the location of the trails
o Table of Comparisons
o Photos of the trail
o Display board posted with information
Teacher Closure: The teacher should explain that these trails are preserved and protected as they are important to the formation and preservation of our country. If we paved over every historic place, our country would not have a physical connection to those important icons of our past. Preserving scenic trails provides places for people to experience the beauty and the environmental framework of our land. Our National Trails connect the concrete with the aesthetic, our physical with our intellect and our history with our future.
AssessmentStudents will be graded on the completeness and quality of their reports.
Park ConnectionsThe Natchez Trace Parkway encompasses the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail.
1.) Visit the Natchez Trace Parkway and if possible walk on sections of the National Scenic Trails and the historic Old Trace.
2.) Whenever studying a historical culture, location or event, relate any relevant National Trail.
3.) Have the students develop a hypothetical plan to make a "historic" or "scenic trail" or "recreational trail" on their school grounds or neighborhood.
The mock- plan should include:
1. Trail designation
2. Justification for choosing the trail
3. Who would use the trail?
4. What changes in the environment need to be made to build the trail?
5. The length of the trail.
6. A map showing the location of the trail.
7. Who would need to be contacted for permission to make the trail?
8. Option: How much would it cost to build this trail?
List of National Scenic Trails:
Appalachian National Scenic Trail
Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
Florida National Scenic Trail
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail
New England National Scenic Trail
North Country National Scenic Trail
Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail
Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
List of National Historic Trails:
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail
California National Historic Trail
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail
El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail
Iditarod National Historic Trail
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail
Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail
Nez Perce National Historic Trail
Old Spanish National Historic Trail
Oregon National Trail
Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail
Pony Express National Historic Trail
Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail