National Trails System Program

Photo image of the Albert Bierstadt painting
"When you start over these wide plains, let no one leave dependent on his best friend for anything; for if you do, you will certainly have a blow-out before you get far." - John Shivley, 1846

Before railroads or automobiles, people in America had to travel by foot, horse, boat or wagon. Some of these routes from our nation's early days still remain today as reminders of our historic past. A National Historic Trail (NHT) such as the Oregon NHT is an extended trail that follows original routes of travel of national historical significance.

In 1995, the National Park Service established the National Trails System Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Salt Lake City Trails Office administers the Oregon, the California, the Mormon Pioneer and the Pony Express NHTs.

The National Trails System program does not manage trail resources on a day-to-day basis. The responsibility for managing trail resources remains in the hands of the current trail managers at the federal, state, local and private levels.

The Office was established to improve interstate and interregional coordination. Specific responsibilities of this trails office include coordinating and supporting the protection of trail resources, marking and interpreting the trails, designating and marking an auto-tour route and identifying and certifying high-potential sites.
Image map of the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, & Pony Express national historic trails across the United States.
Routes of the Oregon, California, Mormon Pioneer, & Pony Express National Historic Trails.

NPS Image

In 1968, Congress enacted the National Trails System Act and in 1978, National Historic Trail designations were added. The National Historic Trails System commemorates these historic routes and promotes their preservation, interpretation and appreciation.

National Historic Trails recognize diverse facets of history such as prominent past routes of exploration, migration, trade, communication and military action. The historic trails generally consist of remnant sites and trail segments, and thus are not necessarily contiguous. Although National Historic Trails are administered by federal agencies, land ownership may be in public or private hands. Of the 11 National Historic Trails, nine are administered by the National Park Service, one by the USDA Forest Service and one by the Bureau of Land Management.

Click here to learn more about the National Trails System, including National Historic and National Recreation Trails.

Cartographers, from the National Park Service Interpretive Design Center, have created a map of the entire system of national historic and scenic trails. You are welcome to view or download a PDF version of the National Trails System map.

Last updated: November 13, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

National Trails Intermountain Region
Oregon National Historic Trail
PO Box 728

Santa Fe, NM 87504


(801) 741-1012

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