More than 160 miles are being added to the U.S. National Trails System in celebration of National Trails Day.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the initiative last week, highlighting 10 new national recreation trails in eight states. The newly designated trails will join a network of more than 1,300 existing areas found across the country.
“As COVID-19 vaccination rates increase and our nation takes a collective and cautious sigh of relief, we need recreational resources now more than ever to strengthen physical, social and mental health across our country,” Haaland said. “National recreation trails boost local economies and provide communities with safe, equitable access to the outdoors. This National Trails Day, I hope everyone finds time to enjoy the great outdoors.”
The national recreation trails program is administered by both the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with multiple federal and nonprofit partners. A trail designation can be completed by either the Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture on an existing trail with the consent of state, local, nonprofit or private entity that has jurisdiction over the trail. The area’s managing agency or organization must apply for the distinction.
“Trails connect neighborhoods, literally and figuratively,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said. “These newly designated national recreation trails recognize the incredible efforts of local trail stewards and enthusiasts to provide the public with close to home outdoor access for strolling, pedaling or paddling.”
The National Trails System, which includes national scenic, historic and recreation trails, offers opportunities for travelers to “experience the majestic landscapes” of the country and build historic event awareness. A U.S. recreation trail database is maintained through American Trails, a national nonprofit working on behalf of all trail interests, including hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, water trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail motorcycling, ATVs, snowmobiling and four-wheeling.
“American Trails applauds this new slate of secretarial designations from the Department of the Interior, and is excited to continue to promote our country’s national recreation trails,” American Trails Executive Director Mike Passo said. “These trails connect the gems of our National Trails System to the places where Americans live, work and play. The national recreation trail program uniquely highlights trails that are accessible, relatable and serve a wide diversity of our nation’s public.”