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.

Trails50 Celebration

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

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