If you’re planning a vacation out in nature this summer, check out the 19 newly designated National Recreation Trails that add 370 miles of new trails in 17 states.
Scholars in fields including wilderness therapy and environmental psychology have shown that time outdoors benefits human lives in many ways. It can have a therapeutic effect, relieve stress and restore attention, while showing us our connections with the natural world.
The new trails include:
Mt. Umunhum Trail
The Mt. Umunhum Trail offers 3.7 miles of moderate terrain to hikers, bicyclists, and equestrians as it passes through chaparral, pine and oak woodlands, over the headwaters of Guadalupe Creek, and climbs to one of the few publicly accessible peaks in the Bay Area. Views reveal the valley below, ridgelines, and nearby peaks. The trail emerges near the rocky summit where rare plants, lizards, birds, butterflies, and 360-degree vistas can be seen.
Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park Trail System
In the city of Jacksonville’s Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park, 20.85 miles of hiking and biking trails provide experiences for all skill levels: from easy hiking and biking on the 1.1-mile Service Road, to hiking the 6.0-mile Wellness Trail, to biking the difficult 3.9-mile off-road Z-Trail. The trail system provides access to the shoreline, the extensive dune system and maritime hammocks.
Fort Larned Historic Nature Trail
On the grounds of Fort Larned National Historic Site, this 1.1-mile loop trail highlights history and nature. Fort Larned is located on the historic Santa Fe Trail and on the Central Flyway, a major bird migration corridor. There are 15 stops along the trail corresponding to detailed information in the trail guide. A variety of habitats provide opportunities to view numerous species of birds.
Fort River Birding and Nature Trail
This 1.1-mile Fort River Birding and Nature Trail is located in Hadley at the Fort River Division of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The trail is universally accessible and functions as an outdoor visitor center, connecting people to nature by immersing them in diverse habitats from grasslands, riparian areas and upland forests.
Iron Ore Heritage Trail
The Iron Ore Heritage Trail is a 47-mile, multi-use, year-round trail that connects the sites and stories of the Marquette Iron Range, a historical area where iron mines operated to serve the country during the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, World War I and World War II. The rail-trail connects Marquette to Republic in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
North Western State Trail
The 32 miles of the North Western State Trail connect the resort communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Alanson, Pellston, and Mackinaw City in northern Michigan. Most of the universally accessible trail is located on the former Grand Rapids and Indiana line of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It is open year-round to non-motorized users and to snowmobilers in winter.
Cannon Valley Trail
Paralleling the Cannon River, this 19.7-mile trail runs through diverse scenery on a former Chicago Great Western Railroad line connecting the cities of Cannon Falls, Welch and Red Wing in southeastern Minnesota. The trail is open in all seasons for bicycling, in-line skating, skateboarding, hiking, walking and cross-country skiing.
Wilson’s Creek Greenway
The 5-mile Wilson’s Creek Greenway is the newest extension of a growing urban trail network in Springfield. The trail connects neighborhoods, schools, businesses and shopping area. People of all ages and abilities can access the woods and pastureland of the Ozarks for active transportation, bicycling, walking, running, skating and wheelchair use.
River’s Edge Trail
The 53 miles of the River’s Edge Trail in Great Falls is designed for biking, jogging, inline skating, running and walking. Nineteen miles of fully accessible paved urban trails link many local parks and attractions along both sides of the scenic Missouri River. Connecting to the urban trails are more than 30 miles of natural trails on the South Shore and North Shore for mountain biking and hiking in the region.
Climax Canyon Nature Trail
This easy to navigate 3-mile, figure-8 loop trail overlooking downtown Raton is named after the now abandoned Climax Mine. Schools use the trail as a field trip location to teach students about ecology, biology, geology and natural science. The trail is historically significant and offers views of mountains, mesas and New Mexico’s high plains.
NEW MEXICO AND TEXAS
Guadalupe Ridge Trail
Starting in Guadalupe Mountains National Park, 100 miles of trail traverses the rocky peaks of the highest point in Texas (Guadalupe Peak), Chihuahuan Desert terrain, mixed coniferous forests, riparian woodlands and rocky canyons. The trail continues through the landscapes of the Lincoln National Forest. An optional loop includes Last Chance Canyon and the desert oasis of Sitting Bull Falls. The trail then crosses Carlsbad Caverns National Park and Bureau of Land Management property, with views of the rugged Guadalupe Ridge. The trail ends in White’s City, NM.
Martin Van Buren Nature Trails
This 3.7-mile system of trails is on 70 acres of land across from the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site. The trails are ideal for hiking, walking, families, dog walkers, environmental education and youth activities. Features include meadow, stream, marsh, forest, farm, rolling hills and historic right of way.
Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail
Named for a local conservationist, the Jim Mayer Riverswalk Trail is a 3.1-mile urban rail-trail on the east end of the city of Johnstown. The trail offers views of the Stonycreek River, bird-life and wildflower and Buttermilk Falls within an urban setting. As part of the local vision to make recreational trail use more accessible in the Johnstown area, the trail provides opportunities for wellness, enhanced recreational experiences and connections to other trail systems.
The Blackberry Trail is located entirely within Mount Rushmore National Memorial. This one-mile gravel trail connects with the Centennial Trail in the Black Elk Wilderness, a part of the Black Hills National Forest. Mainly used by equestrians as a spur trail to access Mount Rushmore, visitors can ride horses or hike the trail.
Bays Mountain Park Trail System
Rising above the city of Kingsport, Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium features roughly 40 miles of trails suitable for all levels of hiking and mountain biking expertise. From scenic, fun, single-track trails to old service roads leading to the ridgetop fire tower, 31 named trails provide an escape to the natural world.
Salado Creek Greenway
The Salado Creek Greenway is a 15-mile scenic multi-use trail along Salado Creek within the northern part of the city of San Antonio. The trail connects the natural environment with the people who live near it and provides recreation for the surrounding neighborhoods.
This trail on Bureau of Land Management land leads to Corona Arch’s 140 x 105-foot opening and the adjacent Bow Tie Arch. Approximately 14 driving miles from Moab, the 1.5-mile out-and-back trail provides visitors with views of the Colorado River and a large slickrock canyon.
Wright’s Mountain Trails
This 7.2-mile network of paths and old logging roads provides recreational access to the forest land and wildlife habitat of Wright’s Mountain, Bradford’s highest peak. At the summit, visitors can enjoy a view in all seasons of the Waits River Valley. The pedestrian trails were constructed and are maintained by volunteers.
Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail
The Dahlgren Railroad Heritage Trail is a 15.7-mile converted rails-to-trail located in King George County. The corridor offers a continuous gravel and stone dust surface for walkers, runners and bikers. The trail is an official part of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.
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, including American Trails, which hosts the National Recreation Trails website.
Photo: Corona Arch Trail in Utah by John Fowler / CC