The United States has an extensive network of trails listed as National Scenic and Historic Trails. The first two trails listed in the National Scenic Trails Act of 1968 were the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail. Since then numerous other scenic and historic trails have been added, these include the Continental Divide Trail, Oregon National Historic Trail, Lewis & Clark Historic Trail, Mormon Pioneer National Historic Trail, in 1977. As of 2014, there are 11 National Scenic Trails and 19 National Historic Trails listed in the National Scenic Trails Act.View National Trails Map
Running approximately 2180 miles along the ridges of the Appalachians, in Eastern United States, the Appalachian Trail traverses some 14 states, from Springer mountain in Georgia to Katahdin mountain in Maine. The AT lies within a day’s drive of over half the Country’s population. It traverses the most densely populated areas of the country. Still, it is possible to find solitude in the midst of the urban landscape. Due to it’s proximity to a large population, the AT attracts the largest number of people to attempt a Thru-hike. Each spring some 3000 to 4000 make the attempt. Of those that start, only about 10% complete the trek.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is the primary organization managing the Appalachian trail. It is responsible for coordinating the many different trail clubs, acquiring land and easement rights for land that the AT crosses. The conference maintains an online store where you can purchase books, guides, maps and other material concerning the Appalachian Trail.
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy
799 Washington St
PO Box 807
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425-0807
Phone: (304) 535-6331
The Pacific Crest Trail follows the mountains of the West Coast some 2600 miles from Canada to Mexico. It travels through California, Oregon and Washington. In the Pacific Northwest the PCT travels through the Cascades. As it progress south, it runs through the Sierras of California before finishing in the deserts of Southern California.
The Pacific Crest Trail Association is the primary organization for managing the Pacific Crest Trail. Its site contains an online store where you can purchase guide books and maps. There are also sections for current trail and snow conditions.
The Continental Divide Trail is the newest of the major trails. It spans the length of the US from Canada to Mexico along the Continental Divide. This divide separates the US from East to West. Water draining off the Eastern slopes drain into the Gulf of Mexico and eventually into the Atlantic Ocean. Water draining off the Western slopes travels to the Pacific Ocean.
The Continental Divide Trail travels for 3000 miles through some of the most remote sections of the United States, outside of Alaska. The CDT runs through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. Unlike the AT or PCT, the CDT does not have a fully defined footpath. Thru-hikers must select the best route for themselves. The route may vary significantly depending upon weather conditions, hikers’ abilities, or a host of factors.
The Continental Divide Trail is also one of the least hiked trail. Although numbers are increasing, only a few dozen people complete the CDT each year.Continental Divide Trail Society
American Discovery Trail - The American Discovery Trail is 6,300 miles of multi-use trail stretching from Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware to Point Reyes National Seashore, California.
*Arizona National Scenic TrailTrail - The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a continuous 800+ mile diverse and scenic trail from Mexico to Utah, linking deserts, mountains, canyons, communities and people.
Baker Trail — The Baker Trail is 132 miles long and extends from Freeport Pennsylvania at Garvers Ferry and passes through farmland and woodland northward through Crooked Creek Park, the Mahoning Creek Reservoir area, Cook Forest State Park, and the Allegheny National Forest, where it connects with the North Country Trail.
Bay Area Ridge Trail — The Bay Area Ridge is a 400-mile multiple-use trail connecting parks and preserved open spaces along the ridgelines surrounding California’s San Francisco Bay.
Bay Circuit Trail— When completed, the Bay Circuit Trail will extend 200 miles through 50 cities and towns from Plum Island to Kingston Bay around Boston Massachusetts.
Bigfoot Trail–Currently being established through northwest California.
Benton MacKaye Trail — This 250 mile trail begins at Springer Mountain with the Appalachian Trail and parallels the Appalachian Trail to the west.
Bruce Trail — The Bruce Trail is 800 kilometer long and runs from Niagara Falls, Ontario (Queenston Heights) to Tobermory, Ontario (Little Tub Harbour).
Buckeye Trail — The Buckeye Trail circles the outer edge of Ohio for 1200 miles.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal — The C & O Canal follows the route of the Potomac River for 184.5 miles from Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland.
California Coastal Trail— The California Coastal Trail stretches from Oregon to Mexico along the California coast.
Canol Heritage Trail— Located deep in the Northwest Territories of Canada near the Arctic Circle, the 222 mile Canol Trail follows an old abandoned road built to service an oil pipe line in World War II.
Chinook Trail — When completed, the Chinook Trail will be 300 miles long and travel in a loop along both sides of Columbia River in the states of Oregon and Washington.
Cohos Trail — In northern-most New Hampshire, the Cohos Trail is 159 miles long. When completed, it will run from near the town of Bartlett, NH all the way to the Canadian border.
Colorado Trail — The Colorado Trail is 469 miles long and runs from Denver to Durango. It coincides with or parallels the Continental Divide Trail from Copper Mountain to south of Monarch Pass.
Conservation Trail — The Conservation Trail is a footpath which begins at the Pennsylvania border in Allegany State Park and extends northward about 177 miles to meet the Bruce Trail in Canada.
Cumberland Trail — The Cumberland Trail, a Tennessee State Scenic Hiking Trail, follows a line of high ridges and deep gorges along or near the rugged eastern escarpment of Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau for 114 miles (370 planned total).
Desert Trail — When completed, the Desert Trail will be a trail system from Canada to Mexico principally through the High Desert Plateau regions of Montana, Idaho, Oregon. Nevada and California.
East Coast Trail — The East Coast Trail, when complete, will follow the east coast of the Avalon Peninsula from Cape St. Francis to Cape Race, a distance of 270 kilometers.
Finger Lakes Trail — The main Finger Lakes Trail is 552 miles long and connects the Catskill Mountains with the Allegheny Mountains by passing through remote areas of the Southern Tier of New York State. The main trail connects with the North Country National Scenic Trail in Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. The Conservation Trail, a major branch trail, connects with the Bruce Trail in Canada. Altogether, the main trail and its branch and loop trails total over 800 miles.
*Florida National ScenicTrail - “… the only National Scenic Trail where hikers can enjoy both subtropical and temperate ecosystems year round, and is fully blazed from end to end.”
Foothills Trail — Tucked away in a seldom traveled section of South Carolina, the 80-plus mile Foothills Trail travels from Ceasars Head State Park to Oconee State Park along the North Carolina Border.
Great Divide Trail — The Great Divide Trail is 1200 kilometers long and follows the Canadian Continental Divide from Glacier National Park at the U.S. and Canada border north to Kakwa Lake.
Great Western TrTail — The Great Western Trail is 2400 miles long and runs from Mexico to Canada through Arizona, Utah and Idaho.
The Hot Springs Trail — The HST is a grand adventure that travels 2,421 miles - from Santa Barbara, CA to Canada - connecting sacred places with healing waters.
*The Ice Age National Scenic Trail – The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a thousand-mile footpath — entirely within Wisconsin — that celebrates the legacy of the Ice Age.
Idaho Centennial Trail — The Centennial Trail is 1,000 miles long and runs the length of Idaho from Nevada to the Canadian border.
Inland Northwest Trail – Inland Northwest Trail route is a loop that covers an estimated 1,500 miles of spectacular lesser-known wild country between the Canadian border and central Idaho and northeast Oregon. After covering a lot of ground, the trail ends where it starts along the Spokane River falls in downtown Spokane, WA.
International Appalachian Trail — The International Appalachian Trail connects the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail near Mount Katahdin at Rainbow Bridge and continues northeast to Gaspé Peninsula in Forillon National Park, Quebéc where the Appalachian mountains abruptly drop to the sea at the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
John Muir Trail — The John Muir Trail is 211 miles long and runs from Happy Isles in Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mount Whitney, California.
Lone Star Trail — The Lone Star Trail is 96 miles long and runs from Richards, Texas to Winters Bayou, Texas.
Long Trail — The Long Trail extends some 263 miles through the Green Mountains of Vermont from the Massachusetts Line to the Canadian Border. Its southern third coincides with the Appalachian Trail until Sherburne Pass.
Mason-Dixon Trail — The Mason-Dixon Trail is 190 miles long and runs from Whiskey Springs, on the Appalachian Trail, in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania to the Brandywine River, near Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
Mountains-to-Sea Trail — The Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) of North Carolina is a 900+ mile trail consisting of footpaths, roads, and state bike routes.
Mokelumne Coast to Crest Trail a 300 mile trail that will connect San Francisco and the East Bay trails to the Sierras and the PCT at Ebbetts Pass. Currently 3 of the 5 segments are finished or being actively built.
*Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail is a 450-mile foot trail through the Old Southwest of Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
*New England National Scenic Trail – Newly designated as a National Scenic Trail in 2009, the New England Trail is largely based on the existing Mattabesett-Metacomet-Monadnock Trail. It is 200 miles long and runs from near the Connecticut River south of Middletown, Connecticut to Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.
North Carolina Bartram Trail — The North Carolina Bartram Trail Society maintains a 100 mile memorial trail in the state of North Carolina, in honor of the Philadelphian naturalist, William Bartram, who traveled throughout the southeast from 1773 to 1777.
*North Country National Scenic Trail - The North Country Trail Association builds, maintains, and promotes this 4,600 mile hiking trail that extends from ND to NY.
Northville-Placid Trail — The Northville-Placid Trail is 132 miles long and traverses the heart of the Adirondack wilderness as a generally lowland route beginning near the town of Northville and ending in the town of Lake Placid, New York.
Oregon Coast Trail– The Oregon Coast Trail is 360 miles long, of which 200 are on public beaches, 70 on inland trails and 90 on sometimes dangerous roads, mostly on the hard shoulder of Highway 101.
Oregon Desert Trail - The Oregon Desert Trail is a 750 mile route stretching from Bend, Oregon to Lake Owyhee State park. This unmarked route is a combination of trail, dirt roads, and cross country travel.
Ouachita Trail — The Ouachita Trail extends 223 miles from Talimena State Park in Oklahoma to Pinnacle Mountain State Park near Little Rock, Arkansas.
Ozark Highlands Trail — Over 200 miles have been completed of the 500 mile Ozark Trail. Upon completion it will start near St. Louis, Missouri and will wind over state, federal, and private lands extending to the Arkansas border. Plans are to connect the Ozark Trail with the 200-mile Ozark Highland Trail in Arkansas.
*Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail — This trail begins at Chief Mountain Customs in Montana and travels 1200 miles to Cape Alava on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
*Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail links the Potomac and upper Ohio river basins, and follows the paths explored by George Washington.
Pinhoti Trail — When completed, the Pinhoti Trail be 220 miles long and run from the southern terminus of the Appalachian mountains (Highway 77, northwest of Ashland, Alabama) to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail on Springer Mountain, Georgia. Currently the southernmost 100 miles of this route in the Talladega National Forest has been completed.
Pine Mountain Trail — The Pine Mountain Trail is a 23-mile footpath which crosses and follows the beautiful Pine Mountain ridge in west central Georgia inside the Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park and near Callaway Gardens.
Pittsburgh to Cumberland Trail — The Pittsburgh to Cumberland trail system covers 204 miles between Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Cumberland Maryland, of which 125 miles are constructed and heavily used.
Rideau Trail– The Rideau Trail is a hiking trail of about 300 kilometers (186 miles) in Eastern Ontario, Canada. It winds in a generally north-northeast direction from Kingston on Lake Ontario to Ottawa, Canada’s capital city on the Ottawa River.
River to River Trail— The River to River Trail in Illinois is a 175 mile hiking trail stretching from Battery Rock on the Ohio River to Grand Tower on the Mississippi River.
Sea To Sea Trail — The San Diego Sea to Sea Trail Foundation, in conjunction with nine government agencies, is creating a national treasure: a 140-mile walking, cycling and horse riding trail, running from the Salton Sea to the Pacific Ocean near Del Mar, California.
The 7 Summits of the Siskiyou Trail — The 3ST travels 448 miles - from Ashland, OR to Mt Shasta City, CA - thru a geologically rich area known as the Klamath Knot. This trail visits 7 Farmer's Markets and the highest peak in 7 different wilderness areas along the way.
Sheltowee Trace Trail — The Sheltowee Trace Trail is 267 miles long and runs from Pickett State Park in northern Tennessee to the Ohio River near Portsmouth, Ohio.
Sierra High Route — The Sierra High Route is a 195 mile trail which begins at the end of Kings Canyon Highway where Bubbs Creek and the South Fork of the Kings Canyon River bisect and ends at Mono Village near Twin Lakes. This is more a route than a trail, often following rock cairns. The route is not open to stock travel.
Sunshine Coast Trail– The Sunshine Coast Trail is a 160 km (99 miles) located on the Upper Sunshine Coast near Powell River, British Columbia, Canada .
Superior Hiking Trail — The Superior Hiking Trail follows the shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota for over 200 miles.
Tahoe Rim Trail — The Tahoe Rim Trail winds 165 miles following the ridges and mountain tops that circle Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada.
Tahoe-Yosemite Trail — The Tahoe-Yosemite Trail is 180 miles long and runs from Meeks Bay on Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite National Park.
Theodore Solomons Trail — This 271 mile lower elevation alternative to the John Muir Trail begins at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park and concludes at the Cottonwood trailhead outside Lone Pine, CA.
Tuscarora Trail– The Tuscarora Trail is 252 miles long and parallels the Appalachian Trail to the west in northern Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Vancouver Island Backbone — The Vancouver Island Backbone is a wilderness hiking route that weaves over 300 km (200 miles) along mountainous interior of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
West Coast Trail – The West Coast Trail is located on the southern west coast of Vancouver Island, BC Canada and stretches 77 kilometers from Port Renfrew on the south end to Bamfield on the north end.
Wonderland Trail — The Wonderland trail is 92 miles long and encircles Mount Rainier in Washington state.