Laws & Policies provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs...and to promote the preservation of...the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation...

Legislation: In 1968 the National Trails System Act 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 (PHT) based on the narrative and a generalized map in the feasibility study. Such "authorizing" legislation for the PHT states that, initially, the PHT will be "within the external boundaries of federal facilities." Section 7 of the Act authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to enter into agreements with various entities for management of PHT segments. in addition, Public Law 99-500 (Omnibus Appropriations Act, 1986) directed the Secretary of the Interior to recognize the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail as a segment of the PHT network (which is achieved through a "memorandum of understanding"). Today the evolving PHT network is managed by various governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations; users should be aware of policies, rules and regulations associated with various PHT segments.

Administration: In the Departmental Manual, administration of the PHT is delegated to the National Park Service, and Director's Order 45: National Trails System and a companion Reference Manual provide guidance for NPS staff and partners.

Route marking: The official PHT insignia (logo) is registered as a "Federal mark"; authorization for use must be obtained from the Trail administrator. The official blaze is 2 inches by 6 inches in Pantone CMS 299. For more information see the route marking and graphic identity guidelines.


Firearms Regulations: As of February 22, 2010, 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 a national park. As a starting point, please visit the following websites:

Pennsylvania State Law

Maryland State Law

See Maryland Code, Public Safety, Title 5
See also Maryland Code, Criminal Law, Title 4

Maryland Attorney General

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, and such are marked with signs at public entrances.


Last updated: March 11, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
National Park Service
1100 Ohio Drive SW

Washington, DC 20242



Contact Us