America’s National Trails System is adding 340 miles to its network of the nation’s “highest caliber” trails, thanks to a recent announcement from Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.
Similar to the way National Park and Monument designation recognizes some of the most beautiful places in the United States, the National Trails System is a way to highlight some of the best trails zig-zagging across the land.
“National recreation trails, including these new designations, are some of our country’s highest caliber trails and provide close-to-home recreation opportunities and the benefits of spending time outdoors,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams in an announcement about the 9 trails joining the network.
More than just highlighting pretty places, many of these trails connect small towns and offer great economic opportunities for local businesses.
“These trails offer an abundance of opportunities to experience the breathtaking landscapes of our country, all while supporting outdoor recreation activities and boosting local economies,” Haaland said in the announcement.
The trails range in length from the 1-mile Vernon Bush Garden Trail in Alabama to the 158-mile Fabulous Fox! Water Trail in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Looking for a new challenge this summer? Here are a few of the most exciting new National Trails.
Razorback Greenway, Arkansas
The 40-mile Razorback Greenway connects some of the hottest towns in the Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas. While there’s plenty of green space to hike and bike through, the trail also offers a rare opportunity for town-to-town biking and trekking—so there’s no shortage of places to stop for a bite, brew, or beer along the way. Towns along the Greenway include Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale, and more.
Fabulous Fox! Water Trail, Illinois and Wisconsin
This 158-mile trail is no standard hike—it’s actually a water trail for paddlers to explore the midwest along the Fox River. There are 70 access points along the trail, connecting dozens of towns and communities. You can find suggestions for day trips and shorter itineraries on the trail’s website.
Enterprise South Nature Park, Tennessee
Just outside Chattanooga, you’ll find 70 miles of wooded hiking and biking trails at the Enterprise South Nature Park, offering an easy opportunity to get out into the woods from the city. Here, you’ll find designated trails for hikers only, mountain bike terrain, and the 10-mile Summit Knobs at Enterprise South horse trail.
Crown Zellerbach Trail, Oregon
Also known as the Crown Z Trail, this roughly 25-mile trail passes through Oregon’s Coastal Range just about half an hour from downtown Portland. The trail is heavily forested in most areas and connects the cities of Scappoose and Vernonia. Much of the trail follows the Portland Southwestern Railroad established in 1906, which later became a logging road and was opened as the Crown Z Trail in 2014. You can hike, bike, or go horseback riding on the trail and there are access points every 2 to 4 miles, so you can hike whatever distance suits you.
Iron Hills Trail System, Utah
This network of 29 miles of trail in southwest Utah is a hotspot for mountain bikers—and in some of the country’s prime National Park land. The Iron Hills Trail System is close to Cedar City, Zion National Park, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, where you can find plenty more hiking, biking, and riding opportunities through vast red rock deserts.
Which new trail are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below, or via our Facebook page.