The U.S. National Park Service has announced a number of updates and improvements to existing trails throughout the park system, and backed the plan by pledging nearly $875,000 specifically ear-marked to complete the initiative. The “Connect Trails to Park” project will be funded from a grant program created last year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the National Trails System.
Created back in 1968 with legislation that mandated the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails, the system now consists of over 52,000 miles of trails. 11 of those are National Scenic Trails with another 19 being designated as National Historic Trails. Over a thousand other hiking routes are listed as National Recreation Trails as well.
All told, 17 projects will receive funding from the grant, which is designed to “restore or improve existing trails and trailhead connections, provide better wayside and interpretive services, encourage innovative educational services, support bridge and trailhead designs, and provide planning services for important trail gateways.” In other words, we can expect improved infrastructure on the projects that are receiving funding, which includes the Continental Divide Trail and the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, amongst others.
These infrastructure upgrades kick off the “Decade of National Trails” initiative that will see similar updates on a number of other routes in the years ahead, leading up to the 50th anniversary of the trail system in 2018.
To see the complete list of trail upgrades, and where the money is being spent, click here.