From left to right: Bond Swamp NWR (GA), Don Edwards NWR (CA), Nisqually NWR (WA), Santa Ana NWR (TX), Wallkill River NWR (NJ).
Over 25% of the visitors to Service lands travel the land and water trails within the National Wildlife Refuge System. With more over 2,500 miles of land and water trails, refuges, wetlands and hatcheries provide a wide range of places for the public to learn about wildlife, fisheries and habitat management. Many of the Service's refuges, wetlands and hatcheries are associated with the National Historic, Scenic and Recreation Trails.
The National Wildlife Refuge System is globally recognized for wildlife management and wildlife recreation opportunities. Wildlife watchers and photographers from around the country and world come to see the large variety of birds, mammals and other wildlife on America's national wildlife refuges. Refuge trails offer visitors the chance to escape our modern world and experience new adventures.
Eight National Historic Trails, three National Scenic Trails and forty-four National Recreation Trails are associated with National Wildlife Refuges and National Fish Hatcheries. Information about the National Trails System is available from the National Park Service. Information about National Recreation Trails is hosted by American Trails. Click on this link to view the list of National Scenic, Historic and Recreation Trails associated with national wildlife refuges and national fish hatcheries.
With the signing of SAFETEA-LU in August 2005, trails became an eligible component of the Refuge Roads Program. The Service and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are working together to improve public access to refuges and waterfowl production areas. The improvements being made to trails through Refuge Roads funding will provide better access to wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities. View the Refuge Roads Program Trails Guidance (836 KB PDF) and Overview (36 KB PDF).
FHWA completed inventories and condition assessments of the designated non-motorized public use trails listed on the Real Property Inventory (RPI) within the National Wildlife Refuge System by the end of 2007. The Federal Trail Data Standards and the Universal Trail Assessment Process were used to document basic trail information. All regional offices and field stations with trails in the RPI have copies of these assessments. Geospatial data will be added to the Service's online files and made available for public use by the end of 2009.
The FHWA Recreation Trails site provides information about national and state trail programs, meetings, the recreational trail funds and other useful trail related information. The FHWA state recreational trails program administrators list provides contact information for state RTP administrator. This is the best person to ask about recreational trail policies and funding for trail projects in your state. NWRs are eligible to apply for these funds through their state governments, usually the state parks department. Matching funds can be in-kind, Refuge Roads funds, or FWS appropriated funds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is a member of the National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP). The NTTP is a wide variety of agencies and organizations nationwide that have joined together to promote opportunities for trails activists to learn up-to-date techniques in trail planning, design, development, maintenance, and volunteer management. For more information on the NTTP, and to find a wealth of trails training opportunities, click on the logo to the right.