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National Scenic and Historic Trails

The Bureau of Land Management is one of several agencies responsible for management of National Historic or Scenic Trails. In 1968, Congress established the National Trails System and designated the first national trails. 

National Historic Trails are extended trails that closely follow a historic trail or route of travel of national significance. Designation identifies and protects historic routes, historic remnants, and artifacts for public use and enjoyment. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for over 4,500 miles of 10 National Historic Trails.

National Scenic Trails are extended trails that provide maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of the various qualities – scenic, historical, natural, and cultural – of the areas they pass through. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for over 600 miles of the Continental Divide, Pacific Crest and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trails.

National Scenic and Historic Trails are a component of National Conservation Lands.

California National Historic Trail

The California National Historic Trail was a mid-19th century highway for human movement to lures of gold and farmland in California. Numerous routes emerged in attempts to create the best available course. These fostered commerce and encouraged the development of transportation and communication networks. There were many changes in cultures of Native Americans along the way as hundreds of thousands of people and animals used the trail. Designated in 1992, this trail commemorates that which brought the country closer together and today offers auto touring, educational programs and visitor centers to present-day gold seekers and explorers.

Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail

Juan Bautista de Anza, Captain of the Royal Presidio at Tubac, Sonora, (now southern Arizona), set out on an important expedition in the fall of 1775. This journey had its meager beginnings in the Mexican towns of Culiacán and Horcasitas, where tradesmen and their families joined the company. Viewed in Colonial New Spain as an important colonizing effort, Anza provided military escort for more than 240 people and 1,000 head of livestock moving from Tubac to San Francisco, California. This was an expedition of more than 2,700 miles, with most of the company mounted on horseback and other pack animals. Anza is credited with opening an overland route from Sonora to the missions and settlements of Alta California, and recording valuable information on his exploration of the San Francisco Bay area as an excellent harbor for further Spanish use.

BLM in California manages 50 miles of the Juan Bautista de Anza National  Historic Trail.

Old Spanish National Historic Trail

The trail takes its name from the old Spanish colonies in northern New Mexico and southern California that were linked by this rugged route. The Spanish outpost of Santa Fe, New Mexico was founded in the early 1600's and the pueblo of Los Angeles, California was founded in 1781. But it was not until 1829 when Santa Fe merchant Antonio Armijo led 60 men and 100 mules northward on the known trails blazed by native peoples that a suitable land passage between these colonies became established and regularly used. On the return trip, Armijo backtracked along the route Spanish padres Dominguez and Escalante recorded as they returned to Santa Fe from southern Utah more than fifty years earlier. Portions of both the Northern Route and the Armijo Route pass through the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Arizona Strip District.

Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail

The BLM in California manages over 180 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST).  The trail crosses four designated wildernesses - the Bright Star, Kiavah, Owens Peak and Domelands.

Elevations range from 4,000 feet in the south at Tylerhorse Canyon to 7,600 feet in the north at Bear Mountain. Temperatures in the summer months can range from 32°F. to over 100°F. Summer thunderstorms are common, bringing lightning and the possibility of flash floods on some segments of the trail. Winters can be bitterly cold, however, this section of the PCNST is usually free of snow by the middle of May. Sudden and severe storms can occur from September through May at any location above 6,000 feet in elevation. Expect strong winds in the spring and fall, especially on the Cameron Ridge and Cache Peak segments of the trail. Wind speeds of 60 to 80 miles per hour are common!

Map of National Scenic and Historic Trails  (JPEG)   (PDF) 

Detail Table - National Scenic and Historic Trails  (Excel File)   (PDF)