In 1968, the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail were established as the nation’s first National Scenic Trails in the National Trails System Act of 1968. The purpose of the legislation was stated in the opening paragraph of the act:
In order to provide for the ever-increasing outdoor recreation needs of an expanding population and in order to promote the preservation of, public access to, travel within, and enjoyment and appreciation of the open-air, outdoor areas and historic resources of the Nation, trails should be established (i) primarily, near the urban areas of the Nation, and (ii) secondarily, within scenic areas and along historic travel routes of the Nation which are often more remotely located.
Over the past 50 years, nine more National Scenic Trails (as well as a number of National Historic Trails and National Recreation Trails) have been added to create a network of culturally and recreationally significant resources throughout the country.
The National Park Service, US Forest Service, the U.S. Department of the Interior and other key partners are celebrating the economic and health benefits of our trails throughout 2018 by hosting a number of events nationwide and urging everyone to share their own trail stories. Learn more at Trails50.org.
Featuring a new trail every month.
Because I have spent decades walking on National Scenic Trails (in particular the Pacific Crest Trail, Appalachian Trail and most recently the New England Trail), I will be highlighting the NST system in my blog throughout the upcoming year. From February to December, I’ll be posting a comprehensive article about each trail and how to get started exploring them.
What are the National Scenic Trails?
Here is a list of the eleven current National Scenic Trails along with their mileage, date added to the trail system and a link for further information. I hope you get a chance to explore these wonderful national treasures in 2018 and beyond. I know I will!
|Trail||Mileage||Year added to NST system|
|Appalachian National Scenic Trail||2,181||1968|
|Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail||2,650||1968|
|Continental Divide National Scenic Trail||3,100||1978|
|North Country National Scenic Trail||4,600||1980|
|Ice Age National Scenic Trail||1,200||1980|
|Florida National Scenic Trail||1,300||1983|
|Potomac National Scenic Trail||700||1983|
|Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail||695||1983|
|Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail||1,200||2009|
|Arizona National Scenic Trail||807||2009|
|New England National Scenic Trail||220||2009|