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HOW TO APPLY for NRT Designation

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Is your trail a good candidate for National Recreation Trail designation? This page will tell you the requirements and how to nominate your trail.

arrow USDOI APPLICATION for NRT designation (for all trails EXCEPT those on National Forests and Grasslands) -- Deadline is November 1st

arrow USDA PROCESS for NRT designation (for land administered by the US Department of Agriculture: National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Recreation Areas, and associated lands)

arrow Learn about National Water Trails System designation


Who can apply for National Recreation Trail designation?

Any public or private trail manager, operating a trail that meets the definition and criteria below may apply for NRT designation.


What kinds of trails are eligible?

photo of hiker in woods

Lena Lake Trail in Washington's Olympic National Forest


What are the criteria for NRT designation?


How do I apply for National Recreation Trail designation?

photo of trail in desert

The Painted Desert National Recreation Trail in the
Imperial National Wildlife Refuge

There are two procedures depending on whether the trail is on land administered by the US Department of Agriculture (typically National Forests), or on any other land.

If your trail is on federal land administered by (or associated with) the US Department of Agriculture:

If your trail is on other federal land (outside the Department of Agriculture) or on state, local, or private land:


When can I apply for NRT designation?

National Recreation Trail applications are processed by both departments on an annual cycle.

Details of National Recreation Trails in different states are on line at the NRT State-by-state page and the searchable NRT database.


trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Update trail/contact information by sending us a completed update form (PDF format). You may also e-mail this information.



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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:


The NTTP Online Calendar connects you with courses, conferences, and trail-related training


Promote your trail through the National Recreation Trails Program


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