June 21, 2021
Meet the National Park’s 10 New National Recreation Trails
Back on June 5, the Department of the Interior announced they were designating 10 trails as National Recreation Trails in celebration of National Hiking Day (really, though, every day is national hiking day, isn’t it). What does that mean? Well, now those existing trails will be administered by either the National Park Service under the organization structure provided by the 1968 National Scenic Trails Act (The US Forest Service can also designate and administer NSTs).
The NPS takes over the management of these 10 trails, which can mean funding, though not always, but they also work with local organizations to basically be sure the trails are in good shape and fit to carry the NST signage.
To achieve this designation, a trail must be nominated and then meet a set of standards that can include beauty, historic importance, or unique access to open spaces. National Recreation Trails, as opposed to National Scenic of Historic Trails, typically also earn their distinction by being close to urban centers, serving as connecting trails to more remote national trails deeper in the backcountry.
“Trails connect neighborhoods, literally and figuratively,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said. “These newly designated national recreation trails recognize the incredible efforts of local trail stewards and enthusiasts to provide the public with close-to-home outdoor access for strolling, pedaling, or paddling.”
Here’s the list of the new trails, with descriptions provided by the NPS:
Bethel Spring Recreational Preserve Trail System
Bethel Spring Nature Preserve is a 360-acre property on Keel Mountain with 200 acres open to the public for outdoor recreation. The preserve currently offers hikers 1.8 miles of free trails to explore from dawn to dusk daily, including upland forest, working farmland, historic sites, an environmentally significant spring and creek, as well as one of Madison County’s largest waterfalls.
Chapman Mountain Recreational Preserve Trail System
Chapman Mountain Nature Preserve is a 459-acre property located just to the east of Huntsville, AL. With 3.28 miles of trails for visitors to explore, the preserve offers hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, open from dawn to dusk daily. An 18-hole disc golf course offers another way to play outside and a large open-air pavilion at the trailhead provides space for gatherings.
Green Mountain Recreational Preserve Trail System
Green Mountain Nature Preserve offers 4.9 miles of trail varying from easy to difficult. The trail system offers the opportunity to explore natural features like streams and waterfalls, and interesting historic features.
Farmdale Trail System
The Farmdale Trail System is a network of mountain biking trails located on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Farmdale Reservoir Area. The trails offer 16.3 miles of everything from wide, hardened dirt to twisting single track trails. The trail system allows users to experience the hills, valleys, creeks and standing timber of a time before agriculture transformed the area.
Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway
The Green and Nolin Rivers Blueway is located within Mammoth Cave National Park, with sections in the neighboring Edmonson County and the Nolin Lake Tailwater. The Blueway includes 36 miles of navigable waterway and seven public access sites. The Blueway offers paddlers the opportunity to explore the biological and geological wonders offered by the national park and surrounding area.
Crabtree Cove Trail
Comprised of three separate loops, the Crabtree Cove Trail spans a total of 2.59 miles through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Stockton Lake. While there are several trails offered around the dam area, the Crabtree Cove Trail is one of the most popular and is frequently used by the visiting public. This trail offers easy access to enjoy hikes, bird watching, picnics, and swimming.
Piney Knob Trail System
The Piney Knob Trail System consists of 13.5 miles of recreational hiking and mountain biking trails. All trails are dirt single-track trails and built in accordance with International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) standards, which provide for an excellent recreation experience.
Apache Creek Greenway
The Apache Creek Greenway is part of the Westside Creeks Trails of the Howard W. Peak Greenway Trail System in San Antonio. It runs approximately four miles along Apache Creek and intersects with several city parks. The Apache Creek Greenway is an important part of San Antonio’s Westside community as it ties together neighborhoods that embody the city’s rich Mexican American history and Hispanic culture.
Greenbrier River Trail
The Greenbrier River Trail is a 78-mile former railroad now used for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. It is the longest trail of its kind in West Virginia. The trail provides many breathtaking views as it passes through several small towns, crosses 35 bridges, goes through two tunnels, and cuts through some of West Virginia’s most remote areas.
Fort Laramie National Historic Site’s Confluence Trail offers a pleasant 1.6-mile stroll along the shady banks of two waterways, the North Platte and the Laramie Rivers, as they near their confluence. The resulting riparian area has long offered shelter and valuable resources for people and wildlife. The riparian band of vegetation contains a wide range of plant and wildlife habitats, much as it has throughout history.
Photo: Austin Ban