Last week, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that, in celebration of National Trails Day on June 5, it has designated the Greenbrier River Trail as a national recreation trail, adding more than 78 miles to the National Trails System. The newly designated trail joins a network of more than 1,300 existing national recreation trails, which can be found in every U.S. state.
“The addition of the Greenbrier River Trail to our National Trails System is fantastic news for our entire state. As home to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, 35 state parks, and a section of the Appalachian Trail, West Virginia truly offers some of the nation’s best public lands suited for adventurers of every level of ambition and experience. These and all of the other magnificent parks and trails within our borders truly connect our communities and create endless opportunities for both residents and visitors alike while also contributing to local economies. I thank Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland for her strong commitment to conserving our public lands, and I look forward to continuing to work closely together to ensure the wild and wonderful corners of West Virginia are protected for generations to come,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
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.
The national recreation trails program is jointly administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service, in conjunction with multiple federal and nonprofit partners. The designation of a national recreation trail can be done by either the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary of Agriculture on an existing local or regional trail with the consent of the federal, state, local, nonprofit, or private entity that has jurisdiction over the trail. The trail’s managing agency or organization must apply for the distinction.
“Trails connect neighborhoods, literally and figuratively,” said Shawn Benge, Deputy Director, National Park Service. “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.”
The National Trails System, which includes national scenic, national historic and national recreation trails, offers an abundance of opportunities to experience the majestic landscapes of the country and build awareness of historic events that have shaped the nation.
A database of recreation trails across the United States is maintained through American Trails, a national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests, including hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, water trails, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail motorcycling, ATVs, snowmobiling, and four-wheeling.
“American Trails applauds this new slate of Secretarial designations from the Department of the Interior and is excited to continue to promote our country’s national recreation trails,” said Mike Passo, Executive Director, American Trails. “These trails connect the gems of our National Trails System to the places where Americans live, work, and play. The national recreation trail program uniquely highlights trails that are accessible, relatable, and serve a wide diversity of our nation’s public.”