National Scenic and Historic Trails

During a consistent set of messages throughout his presidency, Lyndon B. Johnson inspired a movement. His “Conservation and Preservation of Natural Beauty” messages led Congress to establish the National Trails System Act in 1968. Today, the BLM’s National Scenic and Historic Trails (NSHT) Program connects people to the land, its natural and scenic wonders, the Nation’s heritage, and our diverse communities. These trails were first Indigenous sacred landscapes that echo the stories of ancient and present-day cultures. The BLM’s NSHT program acknowledges that these trails traverse stolen lands with a history of removal, genocide, forced assimilation, violence, and broken treaties.  See Native Lands National Trails for more information

There are currently 32 national trails in the system administered by the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and U.S. Forest Service.  The BLM administers, manages, and protects these trails as part of its system of National Conservation Lands. Through proper inventory, assessment, and monitoring these linear units can serve as a model to preserve history for future generations while providing for large landscape connectivity that supports ecological connectivity and wildlife corridors during turbulent changes in climate and increasing development.

The lands these trails traverse often have complex jurisdictions which requires immense partnering with other federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and dedicated volunteers.  The BLM currently protects nearly 6,000 miles of 19 designated trails in 15 States, in addition to thousands of miles of trails under study for potential designation. The BLM is the delegated trail administering agency for Iditarod National Historic Trail and co-administers the Old Spanish and El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trails with the National Park Service.  

The BLM offers many ways to explore national trails, ranging from accessible visitor centers that teach the often-difficult stories from our nation’s past to wild and remote locations delivering authentic and life changing experiences for the well-prepared adventurer. Access to trails offers visitors a safe and welcoming destination that increases stewardship of public land, provides an opportunity to learn, and can enhance physical, mental, and spiritual health.  In coordination with our trail partner organizations, the BLM is committed towards a trail community of diversity, equity, and inclusion on the National Trails System.

National Historic Trails follow a historic route of travel with national significance. The remnants, artifacts and landscapes along these routes and segments are identified and protected. National Scenic Trails have continuous tread and emphasize outdoor recreation along with the conservation of the resource qualities (scenic, historical, natural, and cultural) of the lands they traverse. National Recreation Trails (NRT) are also part of the system and are managed by BLM’s Recreation division.
Emigrant National Historic Trail, Wyoming
"Your imagination, your initiative, and your indignation will determine whether we build a society where progress is the servant of our needs, or a society where old values and new visions are buried under unbridled growth … Worst of all, expansion is eroding the precious and time-honored values of community with neighbors and communion with nature. The loss of these values breeds loneliness and boredom and indifference." Lyndon B. Johnson
Pacific Crest Trail California