What is a National Historic Trail?

The National Trail System Act of 1968 created a national system of scenic and historic trails. More well-known trails in the System include the Appalachian Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail. Trails are managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, or the Bureau of Land Management. When a Trail is designated, the lands on which the Trail passes through stay in the same hands. The designation is a tool that enables the Federal government to work with state and local government and non-profit and for-profit partners to provide public access and interpretation. Participation in the activities of a national historic trail is strictly voluntary.

Trails are not national parks. Most are not in public ownership. Instead, trails follow the regulations of the National Trails System Act, which includes protections for landowners and mandates close cooperation with affected landowners, be they public or private institutions.

To learn more about the national scenic and historic trails, click here.

To read the National Trails System Act, click here.

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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