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2003 NRT designations

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THE NATIONAL RECREATION TRAILS (NRT) program works to preserve and celebrate our nation's pathways. We invite you to explore America’s great national system of trails and greenways.


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National Recreation Trails designated on National Forests

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2003 - Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the designation of four new national recreation trails in national forests and grasslands located in California, Nevada, North Dakota and Virginia— adding 288 miles to the system of nationally significant and recognized trails (see the National Recreation Trails database).

photo of canoeing under trees

Conservation Corps workers on the Tahoe Rim Trail

"These designations contribute to President Bush's Healthier US Initiative by providing more opportunities for the public to exercise in the great outdoors," said Veneman. "America's national forests and grasslands offer a wide range of recreation opportunities, including more than 133,000 miles of trails for hiking." Veneman said that some of the new trails are available today due to the important work of volunteers.

"The President's USA Freedom Corps encourages every American to get involved in strengthening America's communities. Providing more opportunities for the public to enjoy our Nation's forests is a great example of what can be accomplished by volunteers." These four new national recreation trails were selected based on their historic value and the way they have enriched the public's lives.

The four newly designated trails (all non-motorized) are:

Pioneer Trail (Tahoe National Forest, Calif.)
Volunteers constructed all but two miles of the 25-mile Pioneer Trail, which follows one of several emigrant trails that were used to travel to California following the discovery of gold. Historic uses of the land are evident throughout it, including mining areas, logging railroads and wagon roads. The Forest Service has plans to connect the trail with the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Partners include Bicyclists of Nevada County, CalTrans, Folsom-Auburn Trail Riders Action Coalition, Gold Country Trails Council, Nevada Irrigation District and Pacific Gas & Electric.

Tahoe Rim Trail (Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Calif. and Nev.)
The Tahoe Rim Trail makes up 96 miles of the 165-mile trail that encircles Lake Tahoe along the ridges and mountaintops that form the Lake Tahoe Basin. It offers spectacular views of Lake Tahoe and surrounding mountain peaks, forests and meadows that form the Lake Tahoe Basin and shares 49 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail. Partners include Nevada State Parks and Tahoe Rim Trail Association.

Maah Daah Hey Trail (Dakota Prairie Grasslands, N.D.)
Winding its way through the rugged badlands and rolling prairies of western North Dakota is the 96-mile Maah Daah Hey Trail. It passes by Theodore Roosevelt's original ranch site on the Little Missouri River and is full of unique geological formations and cultural resources. Its name is derived from the Native American Mandan language meaning "grandfather" or "long lasting" and is used to describe an area that has been around for a long time and deserving of respect. Partners include Maah Daah Hey Trail Association, North Dakota State Park and Recreation and Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Massanutten Trail (George Washington and Jefferson National Forest, Va.)
The 71-mile trail offers overlooks with vistas that peer into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great North Mountain area. The Civilian Conservation Camp constructed much of the east side of the Massanutten Trail. Visitors can explore rocky creeks passages and hollows hidden by this mountainous terrain and pass old charcoal hearths and mining operations. The name Massanutten may have originated from a Native American word for either sweet potatoes or the baskets that the American Indians wove. Partners include Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts, Old Dominion 100-Mile Ride Club, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and Virginia Happy Trails Running Club. The national trail designation is part of a continuing campaign to promote community partnerships and to foster innovative ways to encourage physical fitness.

The National Trails System Act of 1968 allows the Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior to recognize existing community trails that qualify as additions to the National Trails System. The Act promotes enjoyment and appreciation of trails and greater public access. Along with inclusion in the National Recreation Trails System, each of the four trails will receive a certificate of designation and National Recreation Trail markers. Throughout the country there are now more than 900 National Recreation Trails throughout the United States, totaling more than 9,000 miles (see the Online NRT Registry).

The National Recreation Trail program provides technical assistance and support for outreach efforts. The Forest Service and National Park Service administer the program with help from a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trail Web site:


trail noteWhat makes a trail a National Recreation Trail? Learn more about the NRT program and the effort to preserve and celebrate America's greatest trails.


For more great photos of NRTs, see the photos and dozens of entries in the NRT Photo Contest, sponsored by American Trails.

Visit some of the wide variety of designated NRTs in Bureau of Land Management areas.

See how to update online trail information in the National Recreation Trails online database or send changes by e-mail to





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The on-line database has details on the currently designated National Recreation Trails. The NRT Program online is hosted by American Trails:


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