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Apply for National Recreation Trail designation

Is your trail a National Recreation Trail?

By Cherri Esperson, National Park Service

Do you know if your trail has been designated as a National Recreation Trail (NRT)? NRTs recognize existing trails that connect people to local resources and improve their quality of life. Nominations come from communities throughout the United States that wish to highlight trails of local or regional significance. Over 1,000 trails have already been designated on federal, state, local, and privately owned land throughout the country.

The National Park Service's Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program and the USDA Forest Service jointly administer the NRT program, with support from a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails. The program is nonregulatory and provides assistance to trail managers and users in a variety of ways. An important benefit of NRT designation continues to be the publicity gained through the NRT website, the on line database, and the NRT News publication. The online database is a great way to learn about trails in your area, as well as in other parts of the U.S. If you'd like to see the list of current NRTs and find out more about how to nominate your trail to be a part of the NRT program, please contact us at (202) 354-6920 or visit the NRT website at

Photo contest for NRTs underway view the winning photos

American Trails sponsors a contest for photographs of National Recreation Trails across the country. We provide awards in several categories and show off entries on the NRT website. The goal is to highlight the diversity of the NRTs and to make more Americans familiar with these great trails. We're looking for good photos in every season of trail users, features of interest, signs, special facilities, management issues, construction, and volunteers. For details see the current NRT Photo Contest page. See the searchable database of NRTs for information on specific trails. If you're not sure if a trail is an NRT, or if you have questions about the contest, contact American Trails at (530) 547-2060 or

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photo of trail work

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