|Secretary Norton Announces Designation of 37 New National Trails in 23 States
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton announced the designation of 37 new National Recreation Trails in 23 states, as part of the National Trails System, in celebration of National Trails Day on Saturday, June 4th.
“The Interior Department plays a vital role in the public land recreation network, managing one-fifth of the land in the nation,” Norton said. “National trails are a significant part of that outdoor network, providing an excellent opportunity for visitors to reconnect with nature and stay active and healthy in the process.”
Today’s announcement of 37 National Recreation Trails in 23 states totals about 580 miles. Since becoming Interior Secretary in 2001, Norton has designated 128 National Recreation Trails at a total of approximately 3,400 miles.
Along with inclusion in the National Recreation Trails System, each of the 37 trails announced today will receive a certificate of designation and National Recreation Trail markers. There are now more than 900 National Recreation Trails that have been designated throughout the United States, totaling more than 10,000 miles.
“Since its inception in 1993, National Trails Day has continued to showcase the health benefits of outdoor recreation on trails--whether it’s walking, jogging or bicycling,” said Norton. “National Trails Day has become an important event each year for promoting trails nationwide, especially National Recreation Trails and other components of the National Trails System.”
This year, National Trails Day is expected to bring one million trail enthusiasts out to events happening nationwide. Planned activities include guided hikes, bike rides, volunteer trail clean up projects and other trail celebrations. This year’s theme “Take the Path to a Healthier You,” continues to target the health benefits of outdoor recreation. Together with American Hiking Society (AHS), the National Park Service (NPS) and other agency partners, businesses, organizations, and individuals are putting on events aimed at highlighting the health benefits of enjoying the country’s trails. National Trails Day offers a variety of activities for all ages and encourages families to get ready for summer by hitting the trails together.
National Recreation Trail designation is an honor given out to those existing trails that have been nominated and meet the requirements for connecting people to local resources and improving their quality of life. The national trail designation is part of a continuing campaign to promote community partnerships and to foster innovative ways to encourage physical fitness. The National Trails System Act of 1968 encourages the Secretary of the Interior to recognize existing community trails that qualify as additions to the National Trails System. The Act promotes enjoyment and appreciation of trails and greater public access.
The Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service and the USDA Forest Service administer the program in conjunction with a number of other federal and nonprofit partners, notably American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trail Web site: www.americantrails.org/nationalrecreationtrails .
The Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program, also known as the Rivers & Trails Program or RTCA, is a community resource of the National Park Service. RTCA staff provide technical assistance to community groups and local, State, and federal government agencies so they can conserve rivers, preserve open space, and develop trails and greenways. More information is available online at http://www.nps.gov/rtca.
Norton designated the 37 National Recreation Trails listed below as part of the National Trails System:
The Perseverance Trail - Located in Juneau, this 3-mile backcountry trail started out as the first road in Alaska, linking the Gastineau Channel with various mines and mills in the Silverbow Basin. Today, it is considered one of Alaska’s most historic and recreationally significant trails. Trail users enjoy relics of the gold mining era intermixed with a diversity of vegetation, waterfalls, snow slide gulches, and majestic views of the rugged mountains. In addition to its scenic and historic features, the trail serves as a link to area trails and allows for recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, and rock climbing.
The Arivaca Cienega Trail - Located on the eastern edge of Arivaca, this wheelchair accessible, backcountry trail extends over a mile in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. Cienegas, Spanish for “a hundred waters,” are spring fed marshes particularly rare in the deserts of Arizona, attracting a variety of birds and other wildlife. In addition to its scenic features, this trail allows visitors the opportunity to observe a wealth of unusual subtropical species, including tropical kingbirds, green kingfishers, and the yellow-billed cuckoo.
The Arivaca Creek Trail - Located in Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, this backcountry trail is a naturalist’s paradise, meandering one mile through lush vegetation and giant cottonwoods. The trail allows visitors the opportunity to observe owls, coatimundi, and over 320 species of birds in their natural habitat. Given the opportunities for hiking and wildlife observation, it is easy to see why this scenic trail is a valued local treasure.
The Painted Desert Trail - This backcountry trail extends over a mile through Imperial National Wildlife Refuge. The unique name comes from the pink, orange, and brown mounds of ash flow created by volcanoes thousands of years ago. Home to unique desert plants and animals, the trail is a naturalist’s paradise. Visitors enjoy the opportunity to observe beavertail cactus, desert bighorn sheep, and lizards amidst unusual rock formations. Given the opportunities for natural history interpretation and wildlife observation, it is easy to see why this scenic trail is a valued local treasure.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR Interior Trail System - This trail system covers over 4 miles and offers nearby residents a natural haven in the midst of the rapidly developing Denver metro area. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) is an urban refuge of more than 16,000 acres of open space and provides a window for fascinating wildlife observation. In addition to its scenic features, trail users can enjoy recreational activities such as hiking and fishing.
The Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR Wetlands Loop Trail - Located in the midst of the rapidly developing Denver metro area, this interpretive trail spans almost two miles amidst prairie wetlands in the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). This refuge is comprised of more than 16,000 acres of open space and acts as a natural haven for area residents. The trail offers a diversity of visitors the opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife (such as prairie dogs and eagles) in their natural habitat.
The Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Trail - Located near downtown Denver, this 1.5-mile trail serves an urban population yet provides visitors an opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife amidst wetlands and prairies. The Two Ponds NWR, extending over 72 acres, is a natural treasure for area residents, hosting beavers, herons, and over 113 bird species. In addition to its scenic features, this trail is heavily used for environmental education programs, which draw school children from throughout the area.
The Big Bend Saltwater Paddling Trail - Located along the Gulf Coast of Florida, this 105-mile water trail embraces one of the longest and wildest publicly owned coastal wetlands in the United States. There seems to be something for all trail users to enjoy - from abundant wildlife to historical sites to beaches. In addition to its scenic and historic features, this trail offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including kayaking, hiking, and swimming. Through its array of partners and connections to coastal towns and other state trails, this trail is connecting Florida in a distinctive way.
The Cress Creek Nature Trail - Located over a mile along the scenic South Fork of the Snake River, this interpretive trail enhances the opportunity for visitors to explore eastern Idaho at its finest. By following each of the 18 self-guided interpretive signs, visitors can learn about the unique cottonwood forests, stream and desert habitats, geological features, and local wildlife (deer, moose, eagles) and vegetation. In addition to attracting hikers and naturalists, it is easy to see why this trail draws both elementary school and college students from throughout the area. Fabulous views of the Snake River can be seen along the entire trail and the surrounding mountains and rolling farmlands leave visitors in a state of awe.
The Tunnel Hill State Trail - Extending from downtown Harrisburg to Karnak, this 45-mile rail-trail connects numerous communities and provides a link to a larger trail network, including the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail and Harrisburg’s bike trail. This trail not only offers a variety of recreational opportunities (such as hiking, biking, and fishing), but trail users can also observe the wildlife habitat of the Cache River State Natural Area. Through its array of partners and community connections, this trail is connecting southern Illinois in a truly unique way.
The Green Ridge State Forest Trail System – Located in the largest contiguous block of forest in Maryland, this 28-mile backcountry trail offers a variety of recreational opportunities amidst the backdrop of the Allegheny Mountains. With a link to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park that forms a 45-mile loop for backpacking, the trail system provides additional access to key educational and interpretive themes of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail corridor. In addition to its scenic and historic features, this trail system offers a wealth of outdoor activities (including mountain biking and cross country snow-skiing) within 2 ½ hours of Washington, D.C.
The Rydell Refuge Trails - This backcountry trail system extends over 7 miles throughout the Rydell National Wildlife Refuge, showcasing a Sundew Bog and wildlife habitats that developed from the “fire shadow” effects of Maple Lake. This ecosystem represents a unique transitional zone between Prairie Parkland of the Red River Valley and the Eastern Broadleaf Forests. This handicapped accessible trail system allows for year-round outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and cross country skiing.
The Kitty Dill Memorial Parkway – Located in the City of West Point, this urban rail-trail and bikeway forms nearly a 4-mile loop, providing residents with easy, safe access from local neighborhoods to businesses, schools, churches, and other amenities. Adults and children alike enjoy walking, jogging, biking, or skating along the trail. With its trees, gazebos, benches, and picnic tables, the parkway is valued as an accessible, community resource. The seasonal beauty of this natural asset and the benefits it provides to area residents, combine to make the parkway a great source of pride for the city.
The Magnolia Trail - Located just south of Natchez in St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, this 3-mile nature trail is enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. This scenic trail allows visitors to access various wildlife habitats and topographic features, including loess bluffs which offer views of the Mississippi and Homochitto Rivers. The refuge hosts a variety of wildlife, including migratory songbirds, waterfowl, and alligators. The trail serves a broad population in the southeastern Louisiana-southwestern Mississippi area, including many school groups who utilize the interpretive signs for environmental education.
The Memory Lane Trail - Located in Wappapello, this 1-mile trail takes visitors down “memory lane” as they walk through the old town of Greenville, one of the sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors have the opportunity to tour the sidewalks of Old Greenville on a self guided historic walk. In addition to its historic resources, this trail allows for biking, roller skating, and other recreational activities.
The Table Rock Lakeshore Trail - Located just south of the Table Rock Lake Dam in Branson, this nature trail extends over 2 miles along the beautiful shores of Table Rock Lake. This accessible trail allows everyone to enjoy the area’s wildlife habitat, rock outcroppings, and four local attractions. The trail begins at the Dewey Short Visitor Center, passes by the Showboat Branson Belle, runs through Table Rock State Park, and ends at the State Park Marina. Area residents, as well as visitors from around the Nation, enjoy the wealth of outdoor activities this trail has to offer, including wildlife observation, hiking, biking, and rollerblading.
The Lee Metcalf NWR Wildlife Viewing Trail – This wildlife viewing trail extends over 2 miles in Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), one of the largest publicly owned riparian properties in the Bitterroot Valley. The refuge hosts approximately 150,000 people each year; and the trail is an integral part of the visitor experience. Trail users enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including wildlife observation, snowshoeing, and fishing. This scenic trail will eventually serve as a trailhead for the Bitterroot Birding and Nature Trail, the first trail of its kind in Montana.
The Prairie-Marsh Boardwalk - This boardwalk trail offers a unique nature walk that transitions from shortgrass native prairie to a nationally-significant wetland ecosystem. The Benton Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to an array of wildlife; and the boardwalk provides an excellent opportunity to observe the wealth of plant communities, shorebirds, and mammals. Although just a small piece (less than a ½-mile long) of the Refuge itself, the boardwalk is a key part of the visitor experience.
The Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT), Glacier National Park Segment – This nearly 65-mile trail is a piece of a continuous 1,200-mile trail route that links the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (NST) and Pacific Crest NST with the Pacific Ocean. This section of the trail is significant, because it provides access to the park’s diverse flora and fauna and takes users through a variety of natural settings - from high mountain alpine meadows and glaciers to forests. The entire PNT trail passes through a variety of significant ecosystems and provides stunning views as it travels through the Olympic, Cascade, and Rocky Mountain Ranges. In addition to its many scenic features, the trail also provides a number of recreational opportunities including hiking, biking, horseback riding, and certain types of motorized vehicle use.
The Meadowlark Trail - Located in Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, this 6-mile rural loop trail system accesses a variety of natural settings, including woodland, restored native prairie, and riparian habitats. The trail currently serves the residents of the Greater Omaha/Council Bluffs Metropolitan area and may eventually link to the nearby community of Ft. Calhoun. In addition to its scenic features, trail users can enjoy recreational activities such as biking, wildlife observation, and cross country skiing.
The Dark Mountain Trail – With the help of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and dedicated volunteers, this 7-mile multi-use trail system officially opened last year. Since then, the trail system has become a popular destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and naturalists. The goal is to expand the trail to provide a connection to the Yadkin River Greenway and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. Plans for the trail also include connecting with facilities at W. Kerr Scott Reservoir, Wilkes Community College, and the towns of Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro. Once fully completed, this trail system will be a tremendous recreational resource in Western North Carolina.
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway Segment - This backcountry trail extends nearly 193 miles and is the longest section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. The scenic foot trail ascends and descends with the contours of the Parkway, crossing expansive forests, wildflower gardens, major rivers, and historic sites. The entire trail stretches nearly 935 miles from Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey’s Ridge State Park on the Outer Banks. When completed, this trail will connect 37 counties, including numerous cities, state parks, and U.S. Forest Service lands. Given the numerous partners and landowners involved, this trail system should be commended for what has been achieved through a diverse partnership. With almost half of the trail now open to the public, this amazing trail is connecting North Carolina in a truly unique way.
The Scuppernong River Interpretive Boardwalk – Located in Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, this ¾-mile loop trail meanders along the Scuppernong River through a cypress swamp and leads into downtown Columbia. The boardwalk introduces visitors to the beauty of the coastal sounds of eastern North Carolina. Local users, who enjoy the Charles Kuralt auto trail, or one of the area’s canoe trails, regard this boardwalk as a treasure. In addition to its scenic features, the trail allows for a variety of recreational activities such as fishing, kayaking, and wildlife observation.
The Cross Ranch Trails – This backcountry, interpretive trail system extends nearly 15 miles along the Missouri River at the heart of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. History buffs have the chance to see the Missouri River and its cottonwood river bottoms much as Lewis and Clark saw them. The trail system forms a series of interconnected loops, transitioning from almost 1,500 acres of floodplain woodland to scenic high bluffs overlooking the river. This area has been designated as a State Nature Preserve and is home to a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles and the threatened piping plover. In addition to its natural and cultural resources, trail users enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, cross country skiing, and fishing.
The Munch’s Coulee Hiking Trail - Located along the Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge State Scenic Byway, this 1-mile loop trail provides spectacular vistas of the Refuge’s wildflowers, Lower Des Lacs Lake, and nearby wetlands. The trail’s native flora and fauna draw school groups from throughout the area. In addition to its scenic features, this trail offers ample opportunities for bird watching.
The Row River Trail - This scenic rail-trail extends almost 16 miles and connects the City of Cottage Grove with Dorena Lake, Culp Creek, and the nearby Umpqua National Forest. The trail traverses the Row River, three historic covered bridges, and a variety of landscapes that include: urban areas, farmland, forests, and the Dorena Lake shoreline. In addition to opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and horseback riding, this trail attracts tourist dollars and provides economic benefits for local communities. Given the recreational and economic benefits generated, and the numerous partners involved, this trail should be commended for what has been achieved through a diverse partnership.
The Woodpecker Loop Trail - This backcountry trail runs a little over a mile in the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge and takes visitors through a variety of natural settings. Beginning in an oak woodland habitat, the trail climbs slightly to an overlook that affords exceptional views of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Range, and then continues down into forests of Douglas fir and mature maples. With interpretive signage as a guide, this scenic trail is a prime location for wildlife observation and offers users a chance to see five species of woodpeckers.
Oil Creek State Park Multi-Use Trail – Located within a 2-hour drive of Pittsburgh, this multi-use trail extends more than 9 miles through the heart of Pennsylvania’s Oil Heritage Region and links to the oldest producing oil well in the world. Interpretive signage tells the story of years of drilling and fires in Oil Creek Valley; but the park also tells the story of environmental recovery. The goal is to eventually connect to the Samuel Justus NRT and provide a 40-mile accessible trail network. In addition to its scenic features, trail users enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, fishing, and cross country skiing. With the efforts of a diverse partnership, this area is now considered an emerald jewel of the state’s park system.
The Blackstone River Bikeway - This 48-mile bikeway will eventually connect Providence, Rhode Island, to Worcester, Massachusetts. This recreational/alternative transportation facility links 15 “Preserve America” municipalities along the Blackstone River, an American Heritage river, and is in the center of the National Park Service’s “John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor.” With 9 miles of the trail already completed, this diverse partnership is making significant progress towards revitalizing the riverfront and connecting different communities. In addition to its scenic features, trail users can enjoy recreational activities such as biking, horseback riding, and boating.
The Mullet Hall Equestrian Trail System - Located in Charleston, this 19-mile equestrian trail consists of an intricate system of loops that provide a variety of experiences unique to each loop. The loops include a range of natural settings, from meadows to swamps. The trail system takes users throughout the historic fields of the former Mullet Hall Plantation and hosts a variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, wild turkeys, and alligators.
The North Augusta Greeneway - Named after former Mayor Thomas W. Greene, this rail-trail/greenway extends more than 6 miles throughout the neighborhoods, natural terrain, and riverfront of North Augusta. An interesting feature on the trail is a railroad car wheel-truck, which serves as a reminder of the area’s heritage as the terminal point of the Charleston to Hamburg Railroad over 150 years ago. The trail serves as an important community connector, providing area residents with access to local parks. Trail users enjoy a number of recreational activities including biking, jogging, and inline skating.
The Prairie Winds Trail – Located in Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge, this ¾-mile walking/hiking trail passes through a variety of habitats, including prairie grasslands, wetlands, and woodlands. The trail holds historical significance as well, preserving the site of South Dakota’s first Catholic mass in 1845. With interpretive signage as a guide, this scenic trail is a prime location for wildlife observation and offers visitors the opportunity to observe white-tailed deer, waterfowl, and songbirds.
TEXAS The Doeskin Ranch Trail System - Located near Austin in Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, this backcountry, interpretive trail system extends more than 3 miles. Visitors can explore an array of habitats and learn about the resource management practices and historical aspects of the refuge. The trail system offers a wealth of scenic vistas and opportunities to observe wildlife, such as the endangered Golden-cheek Warbler and Black-capped Vireo.
The DeHart Mountain Trail - Located on the north side of DeHart Mountain, this backcountry hiking trail extends over 5 miles, connecting ancient footpaths, waterfalls, caves, and an isolated pioneer homesite. Hosting more than 400 plant species, this pristine setting is ideal for hiking and wildlife observation. In addition to its scenic and cultural features, the trail is used for environmental education tours, which draw school children from throughout the area.
The Icicle Creek Nature Trail - This 1-mile interpretive nature trail winds along a beautiful historic channel located on the site of the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. This unique handicapped accessible trail meanders through a spectacularly scenic meadow and leads to quiet areas with wildlife viewing blinds and views of salmon habitat. In addition to its scenic features, trail users enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and cross country skiing. It is easy to see why this trail is considered one of the most popular walking trails in the entire Wenatchee Valley.
The Oaks to Wetlands Trail - Located in the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, this 6-mile nature trail offers a natural haven for residents of the nearby Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. A major highlight of the trail is the nationally recognized archaeological site of the village of Cathlapotle, part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Other trail features include wetlands, native flora, and a host of waterfowl. In addition to its natural and cultural resources, trail users enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. This trail offers a place for area residents to keep in touch with their “wild” neighbors and appreciate the beauty of the type of natural areas that once were common along the lower Columbia River.
The Seven Bridges Trail – This 2-mile nature trail is a focal point of Grant Park, one of the oldest parks in Milwaukee County. This unique trail contains a series of bridges and walkways routed through a set of ravines that bisect the park, exemplifying the grand vision of the early 20th century Milwaukee County Park Commission to provide a well designed natural oasis amid the expansion of the city. The trail draws thousands of visitors from the Milwaukee area and beyond, including school groups who visit the trail to study nature. The park hosts a wide variety of native flora, such as Yellow Birch trees and Trout Lilies, as well as many migratory birds. In addition to its natural resources, the trail offers access to Lake Michigan and allows for recreational activities such as hiking, wildlife observation, and photography.
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Please Note: News Release Issued by the Office of the Secretary
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