Strategic Plan Outline

Brief overview of the Strategic Partnership Plan for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail 2022–2027

Download (.PDF, 6.76 MB)

Strategic Plan 2022-27

Strategic Partnership Plan for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail 2022–2027

Download (.PDF, 4 MB)

Planning for the PHT happens at different scales and, most importantly, at local, regional and state levels: When the PHT is included in local and regional comprehensive plans; state comprehensive outdoor recreation plans; pedestrian and bicycle plans; and local, state and federal site plans, trail projects are more likely to be considered in the context of other plans (e.g., transportation planning); to become eligible for regional- and state-based funding (e.g., federally-funded Recreational Trails Program, Land and Water Conservation Fund, etc.); and to help address other goals (e.g., conservation, non-motorized transportation, heritage tourism). Planning processes are often a key to implementation.

At the scale of the PHT corridor, the following serve as guides for NPS staff and partners involved with PHT network planning and management:

  • A Foundation Document (2015) captures existing practices to administer the Federal interest in the PHT network; summarizes plans and policies to date; serves as a basis for coordination, site specific planning and PHT corridor-wide decision-making; and acts as a reference for NPS staff, partners, volunteers, and others. You can review the core components of the Foundation and contact us for a four-page overview and/or the full document.
  • Based on a series of meetings and discussions in 2004, an "Interpretive Concept Plan" for the PHT network articulated the significance of the PHT corridor; established interpretive themes; and described a set of actions to connect local resources with our national stories through outdoor recreation experiences.
  • "A Communications Approach for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail," a paper by the American Hiking Society, is based on interviews with and discussions among PHT advocates in 1997.
  • The Potomac Heritage Trail: A Proposed National Scenic Trail (1974), a "feasibility study" authorized in the National Trails System Act in 1968, is the basis for PHT authorizing legislation in 1983. Completed by the (former) Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, the study was based on a concept for the PHT in Trails for America: Report on the Nationwide Trails Study (1966) and an uppublished "reconnaisance study" in 1965. From the 1974 study:
The Potomac Heritage Trail would follow the course of the Potomac River from source to mouth, linking an astounding array of superlative historic, scenic, natural, and cultural features, and offering an out­standing recreation opportunity for the residents of the Potomac Valley and its annual millions of visitors. (p.3)

Contact us to request a hard copy of the study.


Related Planning and Plans

Local, regional, state and federal plans and planning processes address particular sections of the PHT corridor. Following are some examples:

  • The NPS Paved Trail Plan establishes a vision and goals for paved trails in the National Capital Region, identifying 121 capital and programmatic recommendations and priorities (2016);

  • Tidal Potomac Segment Plan for the Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT, Potomac Heritage NST and Star-Spangled Banner NHT & Sections (2015)

  • An assessment of opportunities and constraints to planning a trail in the vicinity of Piscataway Park, including Fort Washington Park, the National Colonial Farm and Marshall Hall in Prince George's and Charles counties, Maryland (2015);

  • A Maryland Dept. of Natural Resources study of hiking route options on DNR lands between Piscataway Park and Point Lookout (2015)

  • 2014-2019 Pennsylvania Outdoor Recreation Plan (2014)

  • Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan 2014-2018 (n.d.)

  • A Common Interpretive Strategy for the Religious Freedom National Scenic Byway, Potomac Heritage NST, Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT and Star-Spangled Banner NHT in Charles and Saint Mary's counties, Maryland (2014)

  • Virginia Outdoors Plan (2013)

  • Comprehensive conservation plans for national wildlife refuges within the Potomac River Complex (various years)

  • A PHT corridor analysis within Northern Virginia, completed through a cooperative agreement with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (2011);

  • The Federal Highway Administration re-design of Route 1 in southern Fairfax County, Virginia, in the vicinity of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Belvoir

  • Prince George's County Potomac Heritage Trail On-Road Bicycling Route Sign Plan (2011)

  • Feasibility study for a proposed segment of the PHT within the Broad Creek Historic District, Prince George's County, Maryland (2011)

  • District of Columbia Dept. of Parks and Recreation Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (2010)
  • Great Allegheny Passage Conservation and Development Plan (2009)
  • Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: Northern Virginia's Piedmont Region: Wayside Exhibits (2008)

  • A Development and Management Plan for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Virginia (2006) (for this document and a gap analysis, see Web page for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission)


Last updated: February 27, 2024

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
c/o Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park
142 W. Potomac St.

Williamsport, MD 21795


This phone will reach the main line for the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Contact Us