This program has now concluded. Learn more about our current work in Outdoor Exploration here.

The National Park Foundation (NPF)’s Active Trails program promoted healthy lifestyles while simultaneously protecting and enhancing precious land and water trail resources. A multi-faceted program, Active Trails offered volunteers, community groups, corporate partners, and students and educators, opportunities to get involved with their national parks. Program participants were invited to partake in trail maintenance, citizen science, formal and informal learning activities, special events, and community activities.


Program Highlights

View of the calm Cascade Creek with green trees on the banks at Saint Croix National Scenic River

River Connections Program

In collaboration with NPF and partners, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway offered a variety of land and water activities for a range of community groups that live along the Riverway, promoting physical, mental, and social well-being. Focused on engaging Ojibwe youth, families with low income, and veterans, the program offered opportunities for fishing, camping, outdoor cooking, service projects, and more.

Bench in the Hoh Rain Forest

Leave No Trace in Olympic

Thanks to the Active Trails program, Olympic National Park was able to offer a Leave No Trace educational program for hikers, members of local scout troops, park volunteers, and stock users of the park’s trails. The park also created an Adopt a Trail program, bringing trail users and other community members together to actively care for the trails they love and use.

Cactuses at Saguaro National Park

Nighttime Adventures in Saguaro

An Active Trails project in Saguaro National Park, Nighttime Adventures in Saguaro invited families to explore the park under the stars. The park’s Pedals and Parks program offered full moon bike rides and a series of outreach activities for local youth and families, over 60% of which were first-time visitors. Additionally, as part of the program, over 3.2 miles of the Arizona Trails were maintained by volunteers.

Park Ranger canoes on the shore of the Delaware River

Ranger-Led Activities on the Delaware

With support from an NPF Active Trails grant and partners such as Sullivan County Public Health Services, Ridgeback Sports Store, and Cornell Cooperative Extension in Sullivan County, the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River offered a series of ranger-led snowshoe hikes, bike rides, and canoe trips throughout 2016.

Martin Van Buren statue sits on a bench, with autumn, colorful leaves gathered at his feet

Explore & Reflect Youth Program

With the help of an NPF Active Trails grant, Martin Van Buren National Historic Site hosted out-of-school programs for recreational activities, promoting national parks – including historic sites – as places to be healthy and enjoy the outdoors. Provided during winter and summer months, participants enjoyed snowshoe hikes, cross country skiing, and geocaching experiences, as well as reflection activities.

Mount Timpanogos

Moving Your Way to Fitness & Fun

Timpanogos Cave National Monument, in conjunction with American Fork Recreation Center, Lehi Legacy Center, and the park’s concessionaire, offered the Moving Your Way to Fitness and Fun hiking program for neighboring communities. Aimed to encourage stewardship and fitness in 4th-9th grade students, the summer program connected youth to the park for a ranger-guided walk along the park’s trails and a tour of Timpanogos Cave.

A bridge crossing the spring at Cedartown Removal Camp

Remember the Removal

Remember the Removal is an annual seven-state bicycle ride, commemorating the forced removal of the Cherokee National from its homelands during the winter of 1838-39. The tour takes Cherokee youth (ages 16-24) along the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, which their ancestors traveled. Along the way, participants have the opportunity to learn about their history and heritage, conduct community outreach and media events, grow as individuals, and share as a team.

Tall bridge over the New River Gorge river

Mountain Bike Adventures

New River Gorge National Park & Preserve was awarded an Active Trails grant from NPF to purchase mountain bikes and hold a series of mountain bike trips for community youth on newly constructed hike and bike trails in the park. Park staff and partners conducted three mountain bike adventures, where youth participants received safety tips, an introduction to the benefits of hiking and biking, and information about other trail locations and programs.

Golden sun-lit bridge in the woods on the Tanawha Trail at the Blue Ridge Parkway

TRACK Trails Program

Through two NPF grants and in partnership with local and state parks and other community organizations, Blue Ridge Parkway staff developed eight brochure-led adventures and created a TRACK Pack – a discovery pack designed to enhance the discovery experience for children – for visitors to check out.

A person on a boat at sunrise at Cedar Point boat ramp at Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve

Paddling for Health

With the support of an NPF Active Trails grant and in conjunction with Jacksonville, Florida Health Park Fitness and Fun Fest, the staff at Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve offered ranger-led kayak tours to underserved communities. Participants learned paddling safety and experienced the significant cultural and natural history of Timucuan.

Copper mine shaft at Keweenaw National Historical Park

Health & Wellness Events at Keweenaw

Thanks to an NPF Active Trails grant, Keweenaw National Historical Park partnered with the Western Upper Peninsula Health Department to engage local communities with special events to encourage health and wellness in the Calumet National Historic Landmark District. The partnership created and distributed educational outreach materials and engaged citizens and two local governments in the development of local policy affecting healthy non-motorized trail-based activities in the District.

Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon

Interactive Trails at Bryce Canyon

As part of the Active Trails program, Bryce Canyon National Park produced nine educational interpretive panels which incorporated NPS benchmark survey markers. These exhibit panels were placed at key locations along the park’s popular “hoodoo” hiking trails, and a new Junior Ranger booklet highlights the trail locations where they can be found. Junior Rangers can make pencil rubbings of the benchmarks to document their activities while in the park.

Hubbell trading post wagons

Hiking Programs for Native American Veterans

Utilizing two new trails constructed by Native American youth in previous Active Trails programs, Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site offered monthly guided hikes to nearly 160 Native American veterans. The program provided the veterans an opportunity to connect with nature, share meals, help maintain the trails, and close each guided trail experience with a prayer, a vital part of the Native American culture.

Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Promoting Montana Parks

An NPF Active Trails grant funded promotional materials for Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site, Arrowstone Park on the Clark Fork River, and the City of Deer Lodge. A website, apps, and brochures were printed and made available for the park, the local medical center, and local businesses. The project increased awareness and utilization of the trails in the park and the surrounding community.

Wide, rocky trail through sparse forest in a lava field under overcast skies

Field Trips to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii worked with area schools to bring middle and high school students to the park to learn about the trails. Working with English teachers, students created a series of films highlighting the relevance of the area's history to the native Hawaiian communities. A film festival and Gala event were held as part of this Active Trails grant.

Aerial view of orange foliage at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“Hike the Smokies”

This initiative encouraged park visitors and neighbors to get out and enjoy the more than 800 miles of trails in the Smokies with day-hiking activities. Participants also reaped numerous health and recreational benefits. Through the initiative, participants learned new skills, assisted with trail stewardship, documented their results, and earned rewards.

Two people sit on a bench, looking out over Grand Canyon National Park

Passport to Healthy Living

The Passport to Healthy Living program, funded in part through Active Trails, provided a series of health-focused events targeted at tourism workers, giving them education and experience in Grand Canyon National Park, as well as incentives for ongoing participation. Specifically, the program engaged community members and visitors through a series of planned bicycle tours, guided hikes, rim walks and healthy living seminars.