Active Trails

How We Help

Our national parks provide remarkable opportunities for outdoor recreation on more than 18,000 miles of land and water trails. The Active Trails program promotes healthy lifestyles while simultaneously protecting and enhancing these precious land and water trail resources. This multi-faceted program offers many ways in which volunteers, community groups, corporate partners, students and educators can get involved with their national parks through hands on trail work, citizen science, formal and informal learning activities, special events and community activities.

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Success Story

  • The National Park Foundation supported the TRACK Trails program that engages kids and their families in multi-media led discoveries of the park. Through two NPF grants and in partnership with local and...



Active Trails Photos

Active Trails Grantees

Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area
To truly experience the depth of the Bighorn Canyon, visitors need to see it from the 72 mile long Bighorn Lake. Currently visitors can only access the lake by power boats and not small boats. Lack of information about where and how to boat in the canyon and, owning a boat are the two biggest barriers to getting small boats on the lake. This Active Trails project will remove those barriers and allow access into this amazing canyon for a more diverse cross-section of visitors. With the help of new and existing partners, the park will be able to provide back country camping maps, canoe and kayak clinics, access to equipment, and training for interpretive staff. The park will also develop educational and interpretive tours, as well as offering special programs to youth groups.
Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway will further develop its existing partnership with the Kids in Parks program to enhance our Active Trails project on the Parkway by installing a new TRACK Trail at Price Lake, and by prototyping the installation of an interactive computer station in the NPS Asheville Visitor Center that will allow kids to register their TRACK Trail adventures while still in the park.
Buffalo National River
Buffalo National River has formed key partnerships in two local counties in order to engage the community in healthy outdoor activity. Local, rural populations face health disparities and poverty that surpasses state and national averages. BNR partners have conducted research to identify barriers to healthy living and design strategies to address the very specific needs of this area. Having identified barriers to healthy living and developed specific strategies, the park will deepen connections with the local community, and inspire the next generation of park visitors and supporters. The "HIKE!" program will develop a Hiking Club within the Jasper School District, develop an interactive website, and promote community involvement and support through healthy, nature-based programs and activities.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
One hundred years ago visitors came to 'take the waters' at Platt National Park, Sulphur, Oklahoma. They came to drink from the abundant fresh and mineral water springs believing these waters had medicinal value and would improve their individual, personal wellness. Today, the park, re-designated as Chickasaw National Recreation Area, provides ample recreational opportunities including the historic Platt District, with many trail locations for walking or running. This interest in using the park for exercise activities is a combination of facilities, scenic qualities, and the proximity of the park to the towns of Sulphur and Davis. The park will partner with a local hospital to produce a trail map guide and exercise log for the park, encourage participants to obtain 'pre' and 'post' health scans at the hospital, and log miles exercised in the park between health scans.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
This project is a campaign to motivate participation in trail activities in Cuyahoga Valley National Park through the lens of health and wellness. The campaign will combine awareness-raising activities with opportunities for active recreation on trails in the park. The target audience for the program is youth and adults from underserved communities in Akron and Cleveland. The awareness-to-action campaign will allow folks to participate in community festivals and health fairs to raise awareness of trail activities in the park for health and wellness, engage community opinion leaders, especially faith-based community leaders, and host trail-based events in the park.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
"Bridge the Gap" engages the local communities surrounding Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in using, maintaining, and developing the trails in the park. As part of the Active Trails grant, the park will work with new and existing partners to bring families from this 'commuter community' into the park and onto trails. It will encourage local community groups of all ages and abilities to use trails by adding extra public programming opportunities, increasing publicity, and creating availability of transportation to and from the trail venues. "Bridge the Gap" will also encourage community members to take pride in ownership of public lands, by assisting in brush removal and trimming of park trails damaged during Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. Finally, visitors will assist in native shrub planting for a new public ADA compliant trail to bring increased accessibility to visitors.
George Washington Birthplace National Monument
George Washington Birthplace NM is a 550-acre park along the Potomac River and Popes Creek. It tell the stories of significant Americans and the primary visitor experience focuses on a 10-acre area known as the historical core, which contains the Memorial House, Colonial Kitchen and Garden as well as the archeological remains of the Washington house where George was born. In an attempt to engage the community, particularly its youth, to experience and explore the rest of the park, the park replaced a pedestrian bridge and a trail that connects the historical core to the nature trail and picnic area. The bridge and trail create new recreational opportunities. This Active Trails grant will allow the park to provide visitors the opportunity to explore miles of off-road trail and access multiple historic sites and recreational opportunities in the park on foot or by water without going back to their automobiles to drive to these locations.
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument promote public outdoor recreation use through water and land based recreation, and are committed to working with local Native American communities to promote healthy lifestyles. Both parks border Tribal lands, but unfortunately, Native Americans rarely visit these parks to engage in the incredible recreation opportunities that exist next door. This program will connect Native American youth and adults to their national parks by engaging them in land and water based trail activities that will improve overall wellness. Project participants will mount kayaks and explore the beautiful Colorado and San Juan Rivers, and don boots to explore Navajo Mountain, Rainbow Bridge, and Lees Ferry. Each event will include thematic activities based on topics such as physical wellness, nutrition, water safety, back-country travel, wilderness, and Leave-No-Trace.
Grand Teton National Park
Grand Teton National Park will partner with St. John's Medical Center and Grand Teton Association to create an incentive based hiking program for local families. This program will encourage families to get out on the 200+ miles of trails in the park while reaping the numerous physical and mental health benefits of hiking together. Grand Teton will strive to appeal to families who do not typically spend much time recreating in the park. Through this initiative, the park hopes to motivate local community members to get active in Grand Teton and inspire the next generation of park visitors and supporters through healthy activities and outdoor recreation in their national parks.
Gulf Islands National Seashore
The Let's Paddle the Bayous and Bay project from last year was a huge success. The dedication events were well attended by the public, representatives of the media, elected and government officials were also invited. Articles were posted on Inside NPS and One Interior and covered by local press. At the Davis Bayou Blueway dedication event, our partners with the University of Southern Mississippi provided park visitors with access to kayaks to paddle the Blueway. This experience taught us that in order to attract and engage new audiences such as socio-economically disadvantaged families and ethnically diverse families that the boats must be provided at no cost. After a successful "Let's Paddle the Bayous and Bay" project last year, this Active Trails grant will allow Gulf Islands to purchase kayaks and equipment to allow new audiences to participate in ranger led kayak programs on the Blueways, both in Florida and Mississippi. The park will also design and transform a social trail into the official launch site at Davis Bayou Blueway, rather than using the boat launch, providing a safer access point for novice kayakers.
Joshua Tree National Park
This Active Trails grant will support Joshua Tree National Park's "Trails for Change" project. "Trails for Change" leverages new and long-standing partnerships to generate doctor recommended prescriptions for our gateway communities and visitors to exercise their bodies and minds. Prescriptions will incorporate three park trails that offer a range of fitness levels. At the suggestion of medical professionals, community members and visitors will utilize park trails to improve their health while making meaningful scientific contributions to Joshua Tree National Park by monitoring plants throughout the year along these trails.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave National Park contains approximately 70 miles of trails which are used by hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. This project will form and enhance direct partnerships with the primary trail users at Mammoth Cave, to allow and encourage them to become regularly and actively involved in using park trails and helping to maintain trails in the park. The project will form direct, long-term relationships with primary trails users- local hiking, mountain-biking, and horseback riding groups- and get them directly involved in sustainable trail use practices. The project will include a series of six official trail work days and, a 5-10 mile group hike/ride on National Public Lands Day. All of the activities associated with this project center around encouraging recurring healthy trail use and volunteer service on trails at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Ocmulgee National Monument
The project was established to create awareness of the Muscogee (Creek) history in the area while promoting a healthier lifestyle for the community. The establishment of Nene Kerretv Trail will allow the people living in the community to discover Macon, history, nature, fitness, well-being, peace, and a healthier lifestyle while walking the trails. The project will promote physical fitness in an urban environment while other trails are in a nature environment. To engage school age children, a walking scavenger hunt will be created for all of the sites. The children will turn in their scavenger hunts to earn a flying disc with the Nene Kerretv Trail logo at Ocmulgee National Monument. The flying disc will also encourage the children to play more outdoors.
Point Reyes National Seashore
The Point Reyes Trails Challenge was created in 2012 to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Point Reyes National Seashore and get more people of all ages using the park's 150 miles of trails as a way to promote good health and a deeper connection with the park. The Trail Challenge is a self-paced program where participants or 'challengers' set a goal of completing one of five trail tracks. Challengers can also raise funds for trail enhancements by inviting friends to support their hike-a-thon. Last year nearly 400 people signed up for the Trails Challenge, while many more were inspired to visit new parts of the park using the special guides available at our visitor center, outreach events and on PRSNA's website. This year, Point Reyes will offer a 2013 Trails Challenge. The Active Trail grant will help the park increase outreach- particularly to underserved youth- and deepen participant experience by offering a series of new interpretive hikes and volunteer opportunities.
Saguaro National Park
This project will maintain portions of the Arizona and adjoining trails by organizing and facilitating volunteer work, recreation, and educational opportunities. Saguaro National Park Staff will organize and facilitate a series of outreach and volunteer events while partnering with the Arizona Trail Association and adopting the ATA's Seeds of Stewardship Program to reach local youths & young adults. Saguaro National Park would also organize and facilitate several volunteer work events with Local Mountain biking groups to make needed improvements to the 2.9 mile 'Hope Camp' section of the Arizona Trail (AZT) which has been recently designated as a multi-use trail allowing Equestrian, Bicycle & Pedestrian use. The goals upon completion of this project are to have fostered an on-going relationship with local Youths and Adults which creates an atmosphere of Stewardship among the many different user types. While in the process maintaining the (AZT) to a sustainable condition to which all user's including first-time may enjoy.
Russell Cave National Monument
This project will utilize innovative partnerships to educate the general public and students about the Trail of Tears while engaging them in physical activities. Park staff and partner organizations will work together to develop QR codes imbedded with historical interpretation, trail maps, and videos that will be placed in businesses, community centers, and other private and public entities along the Trail of Tears routes near Russell Cave National Monument. Visitors will be encouraged to get out and walk, bike, hike, and paddle portions of the trail so that they can make intellectual and emotional connections to the people who were removed from their ancestral homes in the east to unknown lands in Oklahoma 175 years ago. Trail of Tears inquiry based curriculum will be used in conjunction with kayak/canoe safety classes taught by members of the Alabama Scenic River Trails committee to introduce students to the history and the natural resources by paddling to key locations along the Tennessee River.
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument
The Flagstaff National Monuments "Movin in the Monuments" outdoor series will expand the monuments as places for healthy outdoor recreation that contribute to people's physical, mental and social well-being through a collaboration with community partners. This newly forged partnership will introduce Sunnyside, AZ familiesto a summer outdoor series promoting healthy lifestyles and increased trail usage at Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments. Drawing on North Country HealtCare's expertise in native health care and lifestyles, and the park's cultural and natural resource experts, the program will introduce underserved local families to key elements of healthy living. The park will conduct a series of visits to the monuments and foster participation in the Killip Elementary Science Camp, service learning projects and special presentations.
Timpanogos Cave National Monument
The Hiking Your Way to Fitness and Fun for Families project is a collaborative effort between Timpanogos Cave National Monument and the American Fork City Recreation Center to provide outdoor recreational experiences for local citizens. Participants will be encouraged to use the free on-line MapMyHike or MapMyWalk service to record and track the number of miles they walked/hiked in the park on-line, or will have the option to record their hike in the visitor center. Timpanogos Cave offers two main trails in the park. Participants will form a Timpanogos Hiking Club and be encouraged to post comments or photos of their experience on the park's facebook page. The five individuals and five families that hike the most miles in a season will be recognized with an award during a special event.
Voyageurs National Park
The Hike to Health Program is a four phase project to encourage visitors to get active and get outside whether via snowshoe, bike, or foot! Voyageurs National Park will create a new partnership with the local medical center to encourage patients to hike in the park for improved health; partner on a service learning project for the restoration of a new bike trail; conduct a Grand Opening and 5K run/walk on the bike trail; and engage local gateway communities to get into the park and experience as many trails as possible.
River Raisin National Battlefield Park
River Raisin National Battlefield Park will increase the trail length by 50 percent, bring out new visitors to the trail and battlefield with commemoration on the 200th Anniversary of the Liberation of Frenchtown, and support a new annual community half-marathon within the park to benefit the Special Olympics. For the race specifically, the park will engage in re-enactment activities and serve as a focal point for participating Special Olympians to interact with historic figures, our mascot 'Major Muskrat' and join in the outdoor activities.
Trail Of Tears National Historic Trail
The NPS National Trails Intermountain Region is partnering with David Crockett State Park in Tennessee to develop and interpret a pristine and well preserved trail segment of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. This section of trail runs directly through the state park, and provides a magnificent example of an intact and relatively untouched segment of the Trail of Tears. Presently, this trail segment and the history associated with it, remains largely unknown to park visitors. This project will develop a new pedestrian retracement trail with a new trailhead and parking lot; create a permanent self-guided interpretive experience through the use of wayside exhibits, an interpretive trail brochure, and signage; and encourage and support visitor experience on this authentic trail segment, through a large public dedication and retracement event that will be repeated yearly.


Active Trails” is made possible through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Foundation.