This site is a resource hub for the National Trails System — a guide to the Congressionally-established trails of the United States. Most people have heard of the Appalachian Trail, but there’s a lot more involved: 32 National Historic and Scenic Trails across 55,000 miles of diverse scenery, all awaiting our discovery.
America’s Best Idea — Again
Writer Wallace Stegner spoke of the concept of national parks as the “best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best.”
Similar to national parks, national trails stand as symbols of America’s possibilities. These paths spread out across the country, serving to remind us of our cultural and natural heritage — they invite us to step outside our normal routines. Here are some examples:
- Continental Divide National Scenic Trail – a route extending 3,200 miles through majestic mountain ranges from the Canadian border in Glacier National Park all the way to Mexico.
- Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail – an ancient buffalo path that leads to Nashville from the Mississippi River, passing historic Indian villages — one of the epic American roadtrips.
- Oregon National Historic Trail – trace the wagon ruts of thousands of settlers who embarked from the Missouri River and emigrated west — many of their tracks are still visible.
Today we can visit a national trail and find ourselves transported through time. The routes profiled on this site honor the stories and struggles that together make up the American experience — the National Trails Guide will show you how to begin…
Experiencing the National Trails
Some of these adventures remain the best kept secrets in the USA. Why not escape your daily grind, go outside and start exploring?
- National Scenic Trails – beyond a typical day hike, these long-distance routes are journeys into America’s wild — far from outposts of civilization, an hour on a trail like the Appalachian can transform your outlook…
- National Historic Trails – typically accessed by motor vehicles, routes like the Lewis and Clark Trail traverse numerous parks and monuments, providing front row seats to the experiences of brave early explorers and indigenous people…
- National Recreation Trails are easy gateways to adventure within a day’s drive of most Americans. The National Trails Guide introduces “staycations” — if you don’t have time for a longer trip, there are still hundreds of routes nearby that lead to unforgettable journeys.
Explore the National Trails — hidden worlds of history and nature that inspire a sense of wonder… Whatever your passion — hiking, road tripping, camping, biking, climbing, kayaking, horseback riding or simple day trips — this guide, along with the National Park Service and its partners, will help you begin.