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National Scenic Trails Frequently Asked Questions

What is a National Scenic Trail (NST)?

National Scenic Trails are extended trails designated by Congress which provide non-motorized outdoor recreation potential and the conservation and enjoyment of the scenic, historical, natural, and cultural qualities through which they pass.

How are NSTs established?

NSTs are designated by acts of Congress.

What is the status of NSTs in New Mexico?

There is one NST in New Mexico: the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. Much of this trail is located on public lands managed by the BLM. Three sections of this trail are currently on temporary alignments while the BLM secures easements.

What recreation activities occur on NSTs?

Recreational uses on NSTs include a wide variety of non-motorized activities including hiking, horseback riding, camping, nature study, photography, and in some cases mountain biking.

Are motor vehicles allowed?

Typically, motor vehicles are not allowed on NSTs other than to cross it. However, there are some cases where the trail is located on a portion of road. In most of these cases, BLM is working to relocate the trail to a more appropriate setting.

Can I ride my bicycle on a national scenic trail?

The BLM portion of the trail is typically not established to a standard that would make riding a mountain bike possible. However, there are some sections of the trail where it would be possible and allowable. Visitors should check with the local BLM field office ahead of time. 

Are guides and outfitters allowed to operate on NSTs?

Yes, when consistent with the managing office’s resource management plan. Guides and outfitters are required to be permitted by the BLM. 

Is grazing permitted?

Yes. Grazing is permitted on the lands NSTs pass through, subject to standard management standards and guidelines applied to BLM grazing allotments.

Can roads, power lines, or pipelines be constructed?

Various sections of the trail will prohibit or allow for construction that crosses the trail, as identified in the managing office’s resource management plan. Such occurrences are mitigated so as to not substantially interfere with the trail. 

Are fires allowed to burn?

In cases where fire plays a key function in the area’s ecology, BLM will work to maintain the role of fire. However, all fires must be controlled to prevent loss of human life or property within the NM or on lands adjacent to the NM.