Potomac Heritage NST Route Marking & Graphic Identity

A route marker with the PHT Identity at a trailhead.

The PHT network 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 PHT segments is essential to create an experience of national and international significance: Without such continuity, the “PHT” is simply a list of unrelated outdoor recreational opportunities. The tools in the PHT route marking and graphic identity guidelines, designed to be clear, concise, and flexible, can be used by management partners and volunteers to support:

  • Local Experiences - Users can confidently and safely navigate between PHT segments managed by different partners.
  • Long-distance experiences - Users can confidently and safely navigate significant portions of, or the entire breadth of the PHT corridor between the mouth of the Potomac River and the Allegheny Highlands.
  • A sense of connection between lands and rivers and streams - Users are aware of intersections between land trails and launch and landing sites for canoes, kayaks, and other non-motorized craft. Various combinations of travel modes can provide opportunities for geographic continuity throughout the PHT network.
  • A sense of something larger - At key trailheads and destinations, users understand their current location in relation to the PHT network as a whole from both navigational and interpretive perspectives. This experience ties site-specific locations to local and regional histories.

An upright panel showing information about the Potomac Heritage Trail
A three-panel kiosk with local and regional information near Edwards Landing Park

NPS Photo

Use of clear, consistent, and recognizable graphics will help to develop and maintain an identity for the PHT network and establish a basis on which to promote PHT experiences and associated places to national and international audiences. With a consistent look and feel to the PHT network, users can more easily plan and execute travel, navigating and experiencing intended routes with a high level of confidence. To accomplish these ends, the guidelines are based on the following criteria:

  • PHT signage and information materials should be highly efficient to impress upon users the coherence of the unified trail system, providing continuity of experience.
  • The NPS should produce a set of general guidelines that provide a menu of options for NPS partners. The guidelines should be easy to implement and should recognize existing practices.
  • The guidelines suggest a family of signs composed of a limited range of images, materials, and colors intended to reduce complexity and clutter in the PHT corridor, to establish a clear identity and continuity of experience, and to account for the existing design guidelines of partner agencies and organizations.
  • The guidelines should complement a range of interpretive media; elements of the guidelines should be applied to other future media including Web pages, mobile phone and tablet applications, brochures, maps, guides and more.
  • Guidelines will incorporate best practices to enhance accessibility. Guidance from the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has been used to develop the guidelines and tools.

Significantly, these guidelines can be applied in a variety of contexts and respect the need for PHT segment managers to retain institutional identities and address organizational policies, goals and needs. Request a copy of the guidelines as a booklet by clicking on contact us, and review some basic graphic elements included in the guidelines.

Last updated: February 26, 2018

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Mailing Address:

Potomac Heritage NST Office
P. O. Box B

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


(304) 535-4014

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