If you're keeping track of your travels along the national recreational trails in the National Trails System, you can add 28 more hikes or paddles to your to-do list.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis the other day announced the designation of 28 trails as national recreation trails, adding almost 650 miles of trails to the National Trails System.
"From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the great outdoors," said Secretary Jewell. "These 28 new national recreation trails, established through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, connect federal, state and local lands and waters to provide access to inexpensive, enjoyable outdoor activities for all Americans.”
The announcement came just before National Trails Day last Saturday.
“Today’s trails span 18 states and join a network of more than 1,200 previously designated trails that total more than 15,000 miles,” said Director Jarvis.
National recreation trail designation recognizes existing trails and trail systems that link communities to recreational opportunities on public lands and in local parks across the nation. Communities and other partners supporting the establishment of the new national recreation trails receive a certificate of designation, a letter of congratulations from Secretary Jewell, and a set of national recreation trail markers.
The national recreation trail program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the national recreation trails website.
The following 28 trails have been designated this year as national recreation trails:
Harvest Square Recreational Preserve Trail System - At the Land Trust of Alabama’s Harvest Square Recreational Preserve in Northwest Madison County, 2.3 miles of trail invite hiking, biking, running, nature viewing, and service. Boy Scouts cleared trail and installed benches for their Eagle Scout projects. The longest trail was developed and is maintained by the Sparkman High School cross country team. The preserve is home to deer, turkey, raccoon, fox, beaver, and a variety of amphibians and reptiles.
Phenix City Riverwalk - The 1.2-mile Phenix City Riverwalk offers bike riders, fitness enthusiasts, runners, and strollers a variety of settings. From the 3,000-seat amphitheater overlooking the Chattahoochee River, to sections shaded by great tree cover, to open areas, the trail is a great location for enjoying entertainment, viewing wildlife and whitewater, and soaking up southern sunshine.
The Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Trail System - Located within the Forever Wild Coldwater Mountain Doug Ghee Nature Preserve and Recreational Area in Anniston, 11.5 miles of trail provide beginner, intermediate, and advanced experiences for mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers. The International Mountain Bicycling Association’s Trail Solutions team designed the trails for maximum interest and long-term sustainable use.
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve Trail System - Three nature trails totaling 2.13 miles showcase the unique beauty of Turkey Creek Nature Preserve in Pinson. The paved Highland Trail provides walkers and bicyclists a moderate climb through the Highland Forest; the easy Boy Scout Trail takes hikers past some of the most scenic reaches along the banks of Turkey Creek; and the Thompson Trace offers some of the best opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Nadeau Trail - Within a Bureau of Land Management Special Recreation Management Area on the east side of the Argus Range in western Panamint Valley, the Nadeau Trail abounds with off-highway vehicle (OHV), wilderness hiking, and packing opportunities for history seekers and desert recreationists. The 28-mile trail is a piece of living history – it exists much as it did in the mid 1880s. Numerous four wheel drive routes off of the trail provide access to steep mountain slopes with expansive views and highly dissected desert canyons.
Junction and Breakwater Trail - In the southwestern side of Cape Henlopen State Park, this 4-mile rail-trail follows a section of the former Penn Central Railroad between Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. The trail is essential in connecting the two communities and gives residents and visitors an alternative to driving a vehicle. This in turn promotes physical activity and reduces traffic congestion, especially during the busy summer months. Interpretive signs along the way provide information about the area’s plant and animal life.
Northern Delaware Greenway Trail – Brandywine Creek - The 2.5-mile section of the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail in Brandywine Creek State Park plays an important role in connecting recreational, historic, and natural resources, while providing the community with a safe place to be active. Trail users can experience Piedmont wooded landscapes, spring wildflowers, and wildlife, view unique geologic features, and picnic, fish, and canoe along Brandywine Creek.
Northern Delaware Greenway Trail – Wilmington - The 7.22-mile Wilmington section of the Northern Delaware Greenway Trail links existing parks throughout northern New Castle County between the Delaware River and the Brandywine River. A regional recreational and transportation asset, the trail serves many people in the greater Wilmington area, giving residents in nearby neighborhoods easy access to park land. The trail also safeguards historic, cultural, and natural resources, sustaining and enhancing Delaware's scenic beauty.
Pomeroy and Newark Rail Trail - This rail-trail provides a crucial connection between Newark's central business district, city parks, the University of Delaware, and White Clay Creek State Park. One million people live within 20 miles of the trail, from families who want to take a trip to the park to students who want to get to class on time. The 4.18-mile trail improves pedestrian safety and mobility, promotes cycling and non-motorized transportation, relieves traffic congestion, and encourages physical fitness.
Chipola River Greenway - Butler Trail - Owned by the State of Florida and managed by the city of Marianna, the Chipola River Greenway features unique rock formations, caves, sink holes, and wetlands. Rare habitats, plants, and animals thrive along the trails. Diverse grade and elevation changes offer a variety of fitness opportunities for walkers and bikers. The northern section of the greenway, the 3.5-mile Butler Trail, provides scenic views within the dense forest.
Chipola River Greenway - Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area Trail System - Like the Butler Trail section, the 4 miles of trails in the Hinson Conservation and Recreation Area at the southern end of the Chipola River Greenway are maintained by the Florida Trail Association, Chipola Greenway Volunteers, and local Boy Scouts. The majority of improvements were funded by local businesses and residents. The greenway is truly the product of a community effort to preserve the natural environment for all to enjoy.
Sugar Bottom Mountain Biking Trail System - Set in rugged terrain surrounding the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coralville Reservoir on the Iowa River, 13 miles of trail are arranged as a one-way system of loops to create an extended continuous riding experience and serve riders of all skill levels. For sustainability and reduced maintenance, soil and high water challenges have been addressed with careful design. Sugar Bottom is essentially the birthplace of mountain biking in Iowa, inspiring trails and clubs throughout the state.
Volksweg Trail - Volksweg is a Dutch word meaning “people’s path,” and this trail serves as a path connecting the picturesque city of Pella to the recreation areas of Lake Red Rock on the Des Moines River. The trail traverses timbered areas, restored prairies, pine plantations, and open fields while offering spectacular views of the lake. It is maintained through a combined effort by the Marion County Conservation Board, the city of Pella, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
General Dacey Trail - This 4-mile multipurpose trail at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Shelbyville is a premiere attraction for physical fitness, family gatherings, educational opportunities, and wildlife viewing. The success of the General Dacey Trail would not have been achieved without community involvement and ownership. The trail has proved to be a catalyst for developing relationships between volunteers, contributors, and partnering organizations.
Timber Point - On the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge near Biddleford Pool, a scenic 1.4-mile lollipop trail with an elevated platform takes visitors past freshwater wetlands, fringing salt marshes, cattail marshes, mixed deciduous forest, mudflats (used by feeding shorebirds), coastal shrublands, rocky shores, and views of the Little River Estuary and Atlantic Ocean. For extra adventure, Timber Island is accessible from the end of the trail via a land bridge at low tide.
Hellcat Interpretive Trail - At the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island, the two branches of the 1-mile Hellcat Interpretive Trail meander through dunes, shrub thickets, vernal pools, maritime forest and brackish marsh habitats. Observation platforms and a mile of elevated boardwalk enhance wildlife viewing opportunities while protecting the habitat of this Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Site. Over 120,000 visitors enjoy this trail annually.
North Eastern State Trail (NEST) - Natural resources are abundant along the 71-mile NEST, connecting Alpena to Cheboygan. The trail passes along lakes and ponds, crosses rivers and streams, and connects to Aloha State Park and thousands of acres of state forest lands. The NEST is part of the over 220-mile state rail-trail network in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula and is part of the state-designated snowmobile trail network. It is open to all non-motorized use throughout the year and to snowmobiles from December 1 to March 31.
Pomme de Terre Multipurpose Trail - This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers trail, located in Bolivar Landing on the southern portion of Pomme de Terre Lake, provides enjoyment for horseback riders, mountain bikers, and hikers. The looped trail has several smaller loops, adding up to nearly 20 miles. The scenic trail winds through various types of terrain. The Show-Me Missouri Back Country Horsemen keep the trail traffic flowing by contributing countless hours of volunteer labor.
Running River Trail - Located in Outlet Park just below Pomme de Terre Dam, this 3.1-mile looped trail meanders along the Pomme de Terre River and through a fine stand of timber. Designed for walking, jogging, and biking, the trail is a Healthy Active Community collaborative effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hermitage School District, Hickory County Health Department, and Hickory County Community Improvement Coalition to promote healthier lifestyles.
Mud Pond Trail - On the Pondicherry Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, visitors walk through a forest community uncommon to the Connecticut River Valley to a beautiful pond and a boreal forest fen deep within the refuge. Mud Pond is home to three carnivorous plant species and unusual wildlife for this part of New England. The 0.6-mile universally accessible trail has 900 feet of raised boardwalk with rest stops that offer extraordinary views of the boreal forest and wetland communities.
Sierra Vista Trail - Built by the Bureau of Land Management, local mountain biking and running groups, and many volunteers for mountain biking, hiking, and equestrian use, this 29-mile trail runs the length of the west side of the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces. The trail provides spectacular views of the mountains jutting majestically above the desert floor, and is a safe, convenient, and relatively easy way to explore the Chihuahuan Desert.
Kings Mountain Gateway Trail - The city of Kings Mountain has developed five miles of multipurpose trail for walking, hiking, and biking. Several scenic overlooks offer excellent views of Kings Mountain and Crowder’s Mountain. More than 12,000 walkers use the fitness loop in the trailhead park each month. Cleveland County, Carolina Thread Trail, two corporations, two state parks, a national park, and a number of private citizens are key trail partners. Over $800,000 in trail easements were donated to the county by four large corporate landowners.
Kiski-Conemaugh Water Trail - This 88-mile water trail runs through Cambria, Indiana, Westmoreland, and Armstrong counties. Once degraded by pollution from the very industries that built the economic viability of the area, the Kiski-Conemaugh is now experiencing a spectacular recovery. Paddlers travel past historic sites such as the Johnstown Inclined Plane and the Conemaugh River Bridge, and through natural features such as the 1,560-foot deep Conemaugh Gorge – the third deepest river gorge in PA – as it cuts through Laurel Ridge.
Three Rivers Greenway - One of the River Alliance’s greatest accomplishments is the Three Rivers Greenway, an America’s Great Outdoors initiative recently named by the Department of the Interior as one of the country’s most promising ways to reconnect Americans to the natural world. Along six miles of beautiful pathways where the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree rivers meet in Columbia, visitors can relax, picnic, stroll hand-in-hand or hand-to-leash, jog, bike, blade, fish, and access the water for canoeing, kayaking, and inner-tubing.
Brownsville Historic Battlefield Trail - This nine-mile hike and bike path runs through the middle of Brownsville and ends north of the city at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park. Trail users experience the natural environment of South Texas, observing up close the beauty of the resacas (former Rio Grande River tributaries), palm trees, mesquites, and wildlife. The trail connects significant historic and cultural resources, provides healthy lifestyle benefits, and gives residents a safe transportation alternative.
High Bridge Trail State Park - High Bridge Trail State Park is a 31-mile multiuse rail-trail in Central Virginia ideally suited for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Its centerpiece is the majestic High Bridge, on the National Register of Historic Places and a Virginia Historic Landmark. At 2,422 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River, High Bridge is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the 10 longest recreational bridges in the United States. The trail is wide and level, making it easy to use by all ages and skill levels.
Tobacco Heritage Trail - South Boston - Along this 2.6-mile segment of the Tobacco Heritage Trail in South Boston, history and nature are close at hand. Featured historic sites on the rail-trail include the remains of a cotton mill, the Prizery (once a tobacco warehouse, now a community theatre, museum, and events venue), Diamond Hill (a former slave cemetery), and Berry Hill Plantation. Nature enthusiasts enjoy birding, scenic views of the Dan River, and plenty of fresh air.
Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail - Stretching diagonally across Wisconsin for 280 miles from Green Bay in the northeast, through the city of Portage, and on to the convergence of the Wisconsin with the Mississippi River in the southwest, this water trail traverses 15 counties and more than 40 municipalities. Significant as the exploration route of Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, the trail celebrates how the Lower Fox, Upper Fox, and Lower Wisconsin Rivers have shaped the State’s journey through significant historical events, industrial breakthroughs, cultural advances, enjoyment of recreational riches, and environmental recovery.