New Trails Part of Administration’s Effort to Increase Outdoor Recreational Opportunities, Access to Public Lands

WASHINGTONContinuing his work to expand recreational opportunities on public lands, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has designated 19 national recreation trails in 17 states, including River's Edge Trail in Great Falls, adding more than 370 miles to the national recreation trails system of more than 1,000 trails in all 50 states.

“By designating these new national trails, we acknowledge the efforts of local communities to provide outdoor recreational opportunities that can be enjoyed by everyone,” said Secretary Zinke. “Our network of national trails provides easily accessible places to exercise and connect with nature in both urban and rural areas while boosting tourism and supporting economic opportunities across the country.”

The footbridge that separates Giant Springs from the Missouri River is part of the River's Edge Trail in Great Falls, MT. (Photo Credit: Anne Wiens)

On Saturday, June 2, hundreds of organized activities are planned as part of National Trails Day, including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications. Trails of the National Recreation Trails system range from less than a mile to 485 miles in length and have been designated on federal, state, municipal and privately owned lands.

“The network of national recreation trails offers expansive opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors,” said National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith. “As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System, I hope everyone will take advantage of a nearby national trail to hike or bike.”

One of spectacular views of the Missouri River from the River's Edge Trail, Great Falls, MT. (Photo Credit: Anne Wiens)

While national scenic trails and national historic trails may only be designated by an act of Congress, national recreation trails may be designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture in response to an application from the trail's managing agency or organization.

The National Recreation Trails Program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with a number of Federal and not-for-profit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website.

Secretary Zinke designated the following trails this year as national recreation trails:


River's Edge Trail

The 53 miles of the River's Edge Trail in Great Falls is the perfect venue for biking, jogging, inline skating, running, and walking. Nineteen miles of fully accessible paved urban trails link many local parks and attractions along both sides of the scenic Missouri River. Connecting to the urban trails are over thirty miles of natural trails on the South Shore and North Shore for the best mountain biking and hiking in the region.

Cliff Swallows nest in the outcropping along the Rivers Edge Trail, Great Falls, MT (Photo Credit: Anne Wiens)


Mt. Umunhum Trail

The Mt. Umunhum Trail offers 3.7 miles of moderate terrain to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians as it passes through chaparral, pine and oak woodlands, over the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek, and climbs to one of the few publicly accessible peaks in the Bay Area. Views reveal the valley below, ridgelines, and nearby peaks. The trail emerges near the rocky summit where rare plants, lizards, birds, butterflies, and 360-degree vistas can be seen.


Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park Trail System

In the City of Jacksonville’s Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, 20.85 miles of hiking and biking trails provide a variety of experiences for all skill levels: from easy hiking and biking on the 1.1-mile Service Road, to hiking the 6.0-mile Wellness Trail, to biking the very difficult 3.9-mile off-road Z-Trail. The trail system provides access to the shoreline, the extensive dune system, and maritime hammocks.


Fort Larned Historic Nature Trail

On the grounds of Fort Larned National Historic Site, this 1.1-mile loop trail highlights history and nature. Fort Larned is located on the historic Santa Fe Trail and on the Central Flyway, a major bird migration corridor. There are fifteen stops along the trail corresponding to detailed information in the trail guide. A variety of habitats provide opportunities to view numerous species of birds.


Fort River Birding and Nature Trail

Designed and constructed through the teamwork of multiple youth, community, and Refuge partners, the 1.1-mile Fort River Birding and Nature Trail is located in Hadley at the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The trail is universally accessible and functions as an outdoor visitor center, connecting people to nature by immersing them in diverse habitats from grasslands, riparian areas, and upland forests.


Iron Ore Heritage Trail

The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a 47-mile, multi-use, year-round trail that connects the sites and stories of the Marquette Iron Range, a significant historical area where iron mines operated to serve the country during the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, World War I, and World War II. The rail-trail connects Marquette to Republic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

North Western State Trail

The 32 miles of the North Western State Trail connect the resort communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Alanson, Pellston, and Mackinaw City in northern Michigan. Most of the universally accessible trail is located on the former Grand Rapids and Indiana line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is open year round to non-motorized users and to snowmobilers in winter.


Cannon Valley Trail

Paralleling the Cannon River, this 19.7-mile trail runs through diverse and spectacular scenery on a former Chicago Great Western Railroad line connecting the cities of Cannon Falls, Welch, and Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. The trail is open in all seasons for bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, hiking, walking, and cross-country skiing.


Wilson's Creek Greenway

The 5-mile Wilson’s Creek Greenway is the newest extension of a growing urban trail network in Springfield that is powered by a long list of diverse partners. The trail is a vital connection between neighborhoods, schools, businesses, and shopping areas; it plays a role in boosting social interaction, community pride, and mental health. People of all ages and abilities can access the woods and pastureland of the Ozarks for active transportation, bicycling, walking, running, skating, and wheelchair use.


Climax Canyon Nature Trail

This easy to moderate 3-mile, figure 8 loop trail overlooking downtown Raton is named after the now abandoned Climax Mine. Schools use the trail as a field trip location to teach students about ecology, biology, geology, and natural science. With its historic significance and fantastic views of mountains, mesas, and New Mexico's high plains, the trail is one of Raton’s outdoor recreation treasures.


Guadalupe Ridge Trail

Starting in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 100 miles of trail traverses the rocky peaks of the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak), Chihuahuan Desert terrain, mixed coniferous forests, riparian woodlands, and rocky canyons. The trail continues through the landscapes of the Lincoln National Forest. An optional loop includes Last Chance Canyon and the desert oasis of Sitting Bull Falls. The trail then crosses Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Bureau of Land Management property, with stunning views of the rugged Guadalupe Ridge. The trail ends in White’s City, New Mexico. The trail in places can include use by equestrian and stock, motorized vehicles, and bikes.


Martin Van Buren Nature Trails

This 3.7-mile system of trails is on 70 acres of land across from the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. The trails are ideal for hiking, walking, families, dog walkers, environmental education, and youth activities. Features include meadow, stream, marsh, forest, farm, rolling hills, and historic right of way.


Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail

Named for a local conservationist, the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail is a 3.1-mile urban rail-trail on the east end of the City of Johnstown. The trail offers views of the Stonycreek River, abundant bird-life and wildflowers, picturesque Buttermilk Falls, and serenity within an urban setting. As part of the local vision to make recreational trail use more accessible in the Greater Johnstown area, the trail provides opportunities for wellness, enhanced recreational experiences, and connections to other trail systems.


Blackberry Trail

The Blackberry Trail is located entirely within Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This one-mile gravel trail connects with the Centennial Trail in the Black Elk Wilderness, a part of the Black Hills National Forest. Mainly used by equestrians as a spur trail to access Mount Rushmore, visitors have the opportunity to ride or hike in solitude, enjoying the trees, birds, and geology.


Bays Mountain Park Trail System

Rising above the City of Kingsport, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium features roughly 40 miles of trails suitable for all levels of hiking and mountain biking expertise. From scenic, fun, single-track trails to old service roads leading to the ridgetop fire tower, 31 named trails provide a great escape to the natural world.


Salado Creek Greenway

The Salado Creek Greenway is a 15-mile scenic multi-use trail along Salado Creek within the northern part of the City of San Antonio. It has brought together people from all walks of life to share in health, recreation, wellness, and community. The trail connects the natural environment with the people who live near it and enhances the quality of recreation for the surrounding neighborhoods.


Corona Arch

This trail on Bureau of Land Management land leads to Corona Arch’s impressive 140 by 105-foot opening and the adjacent Bow Tie Arch. Approximately 14 driving miles from Moab, the 1.5-mile out-and-back trail provides visitors with striking views of the Colorado River and a large slickrock canyon.


Wright’s Mountain Trails

This 7.2-mile network of paths and old logging roads provides recreational access to the forest land and wildlife habitat of Wright's Mountain, Bradford's highest peak. At the summit visitors enjoy a wonderful view in all seasons of the Waits River Valley. The pedestrian trails were constructed and are maintained by volunteers.


Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail

The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail is a 15.7-mile converted rails-to-trail located in King George County. The beautiful corridor with its continuous gravel and stone dust surface serves walkers, runners, and bikers. The trail is an official part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.

Each of the newly designated trails will receive a certificate of designation, a set of trail markers, and a letter of congratulations recognition from Secretary Zinke.

“Bringing these trails into the National Recreation Trails system will increase Montanans’ access to their public lands,” said Congressman Greg Gianforte. “I appreciate Secretary Zinke’s recognition of River’s Edge Trail, which connects Great Falls with some of the best mountain biking and hiking through nearly 60 miles of trails. The collaborative effort among the city of Great Falls, Cascade County, state agencies, Northwestern Energy, and others made this important designation possible.”

“The Blackberry Trail is an example of what a dedicated community can do to expand access to the Black Hills’ incredible landscapes,” said Congresswoman Kristi Noem. “Especially after the recent rehabilitation efforts, I am thrilled Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration have designated it as a National Recreation Trail.”

“The designation of the Guadalupe Ridge Trail as a National Recreation Trail will provide hikers and recreationalists the opportunity to see some of the most picturesque landscapes in New Mexico,” said Congressman Steve Pearce. “The trail itself will run 100 miles from Guadalupe Peak through the Lincoln National Forest and ends at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Increasing access to our public lands is absolutely essential and something that I will continue to push for. I am happy to have helped work with local communities to make this come to fruition and applaud all those involved for their hard work.”

“An avid outdoorsman, I often take advantage of the parks and trails in East Tennessee,” said Congressman Phil Roe. “In addition to being a great place for East Tennesseans to spend time outdoors, our beautiful lands also help the local economy. I know these new trails will benefit Kingsport, and I thank Secretary Zinke for expanding recreational opportunities in the First District.”

“The great state of Minnesota is home to an incredibly vast landscape of nature—countless lakes, trails, rivers and native trees and forests define the Land of 10,000 Lakes,” said Congressman Tom Emmer. “Thanks to Secretary Zinke, whose designation of the beautiful Cannon Valley Trail as a national recreation trail is great news for all Minnesotans who appreciate this attraction year-round, sunshine or snow for everything from hiking to cross-country skiing.”

“Millions of Americans utilize our National Trails System to enjoy the great outdoors and understand our nation's heritage,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President & CEO, The Corps Network. “Whether it's hiking, biking, camping, hunting, or fishing - trails also provide access to our nations most treasured landscapes and recreation opportunities. The nations 130 Conservation Corps and 24,000 Corpsmembers are proud to help construct and maintain our National Trails System and we applaud Secretary Zinke's commitment to expanding trails and access to recreation opportunities in honor of the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act.”

“Congratulations on the 50th anniversary of the National Trails Act,” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Trails are exceedingly important to tourism and recreation in America’s State Parks, and we continue to grow the trail systems in response to the many types of users. Outdoor recreation opportunities include not only hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, but also a place for snowmobilers and OHRVs. Waterway trails are also an integral part of the outdoor recreation experience. Whether it is biking the most difficult terrain or taking a leisurely hike along a natural path, the trails provide healthy activities everyone can participate in and enjoy. The National Trails Act led the way for the majority of the states to enact support for trails such as Tennessee, among one of the first in April of 1971 to enact their State Scenic Trails Act. National and state designations highlight the unique significance trails offer in this most popular of outdoor recreation activities.”

More From K96 FM