National Trails System & the BLM


The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages over 6,000 miles of public use trails classified within the National Trails System. This total includes the following: 4,877 total miles along 10 National Historic Trails in 10 western states, including Alaska; 608 miles of National Scenic Trails in six western states; and 461 miles along 31 National Recreation Trails in 10 western states. The BLM also manages seven major trail-related visitor centers, often in partnership with State or local agencies and groups.

Congress designated three classifications of trails for public use under separate criteria established in the National Trails System Act of 1968, Sec. 3(a).  The three classifications are:
  • National Historic Trails – These trails tell stories of an expanding nation and the challenges and hardships faced by people, both immigrant and native, who struggled to adapt themselves to the land and to each other. Designation of the National Historic Trails identifies and protects historic routes, historic remnants, and artifacts for public use and enjoyment. The BLM is responsible for more miles of National Historic Trails than any other Federal agency.
  • National Scenic Trails – National Scenic Trails are intended to provide for maximum outdoor recreation potential, and for the conservation and enjoyment of nationally-significant scenic, historical, natural, and cultural qualities of the areas through which these trails pass. The Bureau of Land Management is responsible for over 600 miles of the Continental Divide, Pacific Crest, and Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trails.
  • National Recreation Trails – The trails provide for a variety of outdoor recreation uses in or near urban areas. BLM-managed National Recreation Trails encompass incredibly diverse terrains and range in length from one-half mile to 150 miles.
Follow the links below for additional detailed trail-related information: