Secretary Jewell, National Park Service Director Jarvis Announce New National Recreation, Water Trails

New Trails Help Promote Obama Administration’s Effort to Increase Outdoor Recreational Opportunities, Connection to Nature

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: June 3, 2016
Contact: Jessica Kershaw (DOI)
Jeff Olson (NPS) 202-208-4988

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis today announced the designation of six local and state National Recreation Trails, adding more than 350 miles to the National Trails System, and three National Water Trails, adding more than 600 miles to the National Water Trails System.    

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

On Saturday, June 4, 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. A list of activities is available on the American Hiking Society's website.

“The network of national recreation and water trails offers expansive opportunities for Americans to explore the great outdoors,” said Jarvis. “With summer here, I hope everyone will take advantage of a trail nearby to hike, paddle or bike. It’s a great family outing and an opportunity to fill your lungs with fresh air and enjoy the beauty of the world around us.”

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

While national scenic trails and national historic trails may only be designated by an act of Congress, national recreation trails (including national water 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 Jewell designated the following six trails this year as National Recreation Trails:


Backbone Trail

The 67-mile Backbone Trail connects the largest publicly owned natural and scenic parks within Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. The trail was created through the decades-long efforts of many partners including California State Parks, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, and the National Park Service. Approximately 17 million Southern Californians live within an hour’s drive of one of the trailheads.


Shetucket River Water Trail

The Shetucket River flows through The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor in Windham and New London Counties. The water trail offers 20 miles of paddling within an hour’s drive of three of New England’s largest urban and metropolitan regions. The major tributaries of the Shetucket River, the Quinebaug River to the east and Willimantic River to the west, have previously been designated National Recreation Trails.


Bartram Trail in Putnam County

John Bartram and his son, William, were naturalists and authors who explored the St. Johns River in the 1700s. Their legacy inspired the creation of a combined 250 miles of hiking, cycling, and paddling trails with related driving tours. A wealth of online resources facilitates planning for adventures within this slice of rural Florida.


Johnson Brook Trail

This 3.5-mile trail is located at the Sunkhaze Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, part of the Northern Maine National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Penobscot County. The loop traverses through a mixed hardwood/softwood forest. Numerous boardwalk sections allow visitors to experience the forested wetlands that surround Sunkhaze Bog.


Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area Trails

The Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area is located seven-miles from downtown Tulsa. The Red, Blue, and Yellow Trails provide 6.7 miles of marked trails for beginner to advanced hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, and equestrian riders. The trail system winds along cliffs overlooking the Arkansas River and past ponds and rock gardens into the heart of the heavily wooded wilderness.


Roche Harbor Trails

The 9.1 miles of trails at Roche Harbor Resort on San Juan Island link a variety of natural features and cultural resources including open pastures, Northwest forests, water views, wildlife habitats, pond-filled quarries, restored nineteenth-century lime kilns, and the historic hotel. The trail system connects with the trail to English Camp at San Juan Island National Historic Park.

Secretary Jewell designated the following three trails this year as National Water Trails:


Kankakee River Water Trail

The 133-mile Kankakee River Water Trail traverses northwestern Indiana and northeastern Illinois in what was once one of the United States’ largest wetlands. The water trail boasts ample public access sites, thousands of acres of natural areas and preserves, remarkable wildlife, overnight camping for paddlers, many historic sites, and a high-quality sports fishery.


Arkansas River Water Trail

The Arkansas River Water Trail provides 192 miles of scenic water trail and riverside wildlife habitat from Great Bend, Kansas to the Kansas-Oklahoma border. The trail provides recreational paddling, fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities via 22 existing access sites as it meanders through the expansive prairie and rich farmland, passing many cities and small towns along its way.


Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail

The Great Miami River Watershed Water Trail is located in southwest Ohio and includes 291 miles of paddling, fishing, and wildlife watching opportunities on three beautiful rivers and many smaller tributaries. The major rivers include the Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad Rivers, all of which are Ohio-designated State water trails. The trail offers a range of opportunities for human-powered and motorized boating.

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