Nearly 600 miles have been added to the National Trails System: Here’s where
(NEXSTAR) – Nine newly-designated trails in seven states will add nearly 600 miles to the National Trails System, which already includes more than 1,300 trails throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced the designations in celebration of Great Outdoors Month and National Trails Day on June 4.
National recreation trails are jointly overseen by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, often alongside federal and nonprofit partners. Unlike national parks, trails can be designated by either the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture on existing local or regional trails. National recreation trails are managed locally but “recognized for their contribution to the Nation’s system of public trail access and outdoor enjoyment,” according to NPS.
Among the new trails is Florida’s Seven Mile Loop Trail in the Crystal River Preserve State Park about 85 miles north of Tampa. Primarily on limestone, the trail takes hikers, runners, and bikers over three tidal creeks, which ebb and flow with the ocean tides.
To the north is another new recreation trail, the South Carolina Revolutionary Rivers Trail. Found in the state’s Florence County, the 60-mile trail follows the Lynches Scenic River to “the cypress and tupelo laden stomping grounds of Revolutionary War hero General Francis Marion.” Visitors can paddle into the swampland like Marion and his fellow soldiers could hide from the British.
Further up the East Coast is Virginia’s Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge Trail System. Comprised of seven interconnected trails covering just under three miles, the system is home to seven habitats to explore. Originally established in 1938, the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge is located on the southeast corner of Virginia Beach.
Two trails in New York received national recognition – the Inwood Hill Park Orange Trail and the New York State Canalway Water Trail. The first traverses 1.43 miles through Manhattan’s only forest while the latter covers 450 miles of upstate New York waterway flows.
Ohio also has two trails receiving national recognition: the Conotton Creek Bike Trail and the Little Miami State Park. About 73 miles south of Akron, the Conotton Creek Bike Trail stretches over 11 miles along a former rail line. The Little Miami State Park spans 50 miles of a former rail line along the Little Miami River in southwestern Ohio.
To the west is Missouri’s Fulbright Spring Greenway Trail, a nearly seven-mile-long loop commonly referred to as “the emerald necklace.” Found near Springfield, it connects four parks, a school, subdivisions, and other trail systems. Texas’ Bob Woodruff Park and Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve Trails round out the newest trail installations. The almost 10-mile-long trail connects two parks, encompassing 1,100 acres.
Haaland’s announcement of nine new trails is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s “America the Beautiful” initiative, which aims to “conserve, connect, and restore” one-third of the U.S.’s lands and waters by 2030 “for the sake of our economy, our health, and our well-being.”
Agencies, state entities, and local communities can nominate a trail for national recognition. To receive status, trails must meet set criteria. That includes the trail being open to public use for at least 10 consecutive years, complying with applicable land use plans and laws, and supported in a letter from its respective State Trail Administrator.