national scenic trails

Incredible sunsets are one of the many rewards of hiking along the Appalachian Trail, a national scenic trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Native to the Appalachian Mountains, rhododendrons bloom in this gorgeous photo that was taken along the trail near the Roan Highlands on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. With so many great vistas to choose from, this scenic area is a favorite with day hikers and backpackers alike. Photo courtesy of Serge Skiba.


Celebrate the passage of the National Trails AND Wild and Scenic Rivers Acts with photos of the BLM river and trail segments included in the original 1968 legislation signed #OTD in 1968!

The Río Grande Wild and Scenic River, located within the Río Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, includes 74 miles of the river as it passes through the 800-foot deep Río Grande Gorge. The Río Grande Wild and Scenic River provides a wide variety of recreational opportunities, luring anglers, hikers, artists, and whitewater boating enthusiasts.  

In addition, the Rogue Wild and Scenic River is located in southwestern Oregon and flows 215 miles from Crater Lake to the Pacific Ocean. Some of the wildlife that calls the Rogue home include black bear, river otter, black-tail deer, bald eagles, osprey, Chinook salmon, great blue heron, water ouzel, and Canada geese.

Featuring 30 miles of the world famous Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCT), Sand to Snow National Monument in Southern California is a favorite for camping, hiking, hunting, horseback riding, photography, wildlife viewing, and even skiing.

The 43-mile stretch of the PCT in southern Oregon includes countless scenic views and well-known recreation points: Mount Shasta; Pilot Rock, Hyatt Lake; Soda Mountain Wilderness; and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, to name a few.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


The Continental Divide Wilderness Study Area in New Mexico offers amazing hiking, backpacking, camping, photography and solitude. The landmark of the area – the Pelona Mountain – rises to 9,212 feet. Rolling grassland gives way to steeper slopes covered in piñon pine woodland and ponderosa pine forest, although the summit of the mountain itself is mostly grassland. Climb the Pelona Mountain for views that stretch out for miles across the surrounding plains, or take a walk along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that passes through this stunning wilderness. A worthy addition to your roadtrip list, especially for the #sunset!

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM.


More #green greatness for #stpatricksday!  One of our favorites - the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon (photos by Bob Wick, BLM).

Designated in 2000, the Cascade-Siskiyou was the first national monument in the country set aside solely to protect biodiversity, with some rare, some endangered, and some endemic (found only here) species. The convergence of three geologically distinct mountain ranges resulted in an area with remarkable biological diversity. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail meanders 19 miles through the monument, offering challenging hikes with stunning views. Recreational activities - such as hiking, fishing and horseback riding - are allowed throughout the monument with consideration for sensitive plant and animal communities.


We continue our weekend celebration of National Scenic and Historic Trails and National Wild and Scenic Rivers with fall foliage along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.  

The BLM manages a section of the Continental Divide Trail in Montana, with a majority located within the Centennial Mountains Wilderness Study Area.  A part of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands, the Centennial Mountains WSA contains some of the most wild and biologically important lands in southwest Montana. Backcountry hiking, equestrian, hunting and fishing are popular along this segment of the trail. During the winter months, you can experience exceptional backcountry skiing opportunities and endless views.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM


This #NationalParkWeek, blaze the Old Spanish National Historic Trail across New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and California.

Jointly administered by the BLM and National Park Service, the Old Spanish Trail served as an important trade route from 1829-1850, linking Santa Fe and Los Angeles across six states and 2,700 miles. The trail passes through red rock mesas, below snow-capped peaks and skirts the continent’s harshest deserts near Death Valley. 

Experience the beauty and history of the Old Spanish Trail virtually through the following video.  The feature shares a 400+ mile journey along the Old Spanish Trail in Utah – by foot, horseback and bike.    


#TravelTuesday with Guest Photographer Bob Wick and Retrace Wyoming’s Historic Emigrant Trails!

It’s hard to believe that just over 150 years ago, hundreds of thousands of pioneers traversed these vast high deserts of Wyoming on foot and by wagon seeking a better life in the west. Easterners looking to farm in the rich soils of Oregon or to find riches in the California goldfields, Mormons pulling handcarts towards the Brigham Young’s settlements in the Great Salt Lake Valley, and riders on the short-lived Pony Express mail route all converged west of Casper to make their way over a low point in the Continental divide at South Pass.  

Start your trip to retrace the route at the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper, Wyoming. The center has outstanding exhibits interpreting the significant role of the area’s historic trails played in in the history of the United States, and is a great place to get oriented for sites along the route.

As you travel westward from Casper, the landscape unfolds just like it did for the emigrants.  Imagine preparing for your trek and viewing sketches of surreal western land features in your guidebook and then coming upon them in real life. Milestones such as Devils Gate, Independence Rock (usually passed around July 4th), and Split Rock, which acted like a gunsight pointing towards South Pass, served both to guide and encourage the emigrants. The landscape remains relatively unchanged along the route so you can capture photographs of the same untouched places.  At several locations you can view inscriptions left by the emigrants.

Photo Tips: The vast landscapes in Wyoming often have dramatic skies – including sky in a large portion of the image (¾ or more) will help capture a stronger mood of the vastness of this place. Plan your photography around the weather. Clearing storms behind cold fronts, and summer monsoon afternoon/evening cloud buildup offer some of the most dramatic skies here and elsewhere in the west. Flat blue and flat grey skies are visually boring – in these situations you should minimize the amount of sky in your landscape images.

One of my favorite places along the emigrant trails route is South Pass itself. Camping near the base of Oregon Buttes (no facilities), watching the dawn light roll down the Wind River Range and filter across the pass makes one feel how powerful this place must have been as a milestone and gateway to the emigrants.

Photo Tip: Get your camera out before sunrise and don’t put it away after sunset. The soft pink light makes for soft sublime images.

Check out our @esri Historic Emigrant Trails multimedia storymap for more stunning photos, videos, helpful links and maps of the area:


Take the backroads – and waterways – along the historic Potomac River!

A scenic and historically-significant travel destination, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail makes its way through four different states – Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. In geographical terms, the trail links the Potomac with the upper Ohio River basins. It follows many of the same paths that were explored by one of America’s greatest patriots and the first president of the United States, George Washington.

The BLM Eastern States-managed segment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail loops through the 500 acre Douglas Point property and is open to all non-motorized travel. The highlights of the trail include the colonial era Chiles homesite as well as a spur trail to a small beach and beautiful Potomac river overlook at the north end of the property. This beach is also a designated water stop for the State of Maryland water trail segment of the PHNST.

Experience history firsthand along this historic byway, but don’t forget the great recreation opportunities for the whole family – from hiking and rock climbing to horseback riding to boating and fishing. Explore #yourlands!


#mypubliclandsroadtrip Recap - Pacific Northwest Style!

The summer roadtrip stopped in BLM Oregon and Washington for coastal views and wildlife, scientific research, unique hikes, and a float down the Rogue River!  

Pictured here, the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument - located at the crossroads of the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountain ranges. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail meanders 19 miles through the monument, offering challenging hikes with stunning views.

Photos by Bob Wick, BLM. Check out all BLM Oregon/Washington roadtrip photos on My Public Lands Flickr, and view the storymap roadtrip journal


Welcome to the May #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover!

Today’s takeover will feature National Historic and Scenic Trails to blaze on BLM’s National Conservation Lands - with the top 15 trails for summer adventure, partners who maintain those trails, and a feature location for your bucket list.

Note: The #conservationlands15 Social Media Takeover is a 2015 monthly celebration of the 15th anniversary of the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.


Thanks, Tumblrs, for following our #takeover of @USInterior’s Instagram Account Today!

Included here are today’s photos and a few other favorites posted by Interior over the last year.  Photos by Bob Wick, Wilderness Specialist for the BLM’s National Conservation Lands.

In the high mountain ranges of the Montana-Idaho border, you’ll find Bannock Pass. The pass is approximately 7,684 feet above sea level near Leadore, Idaho.  The captivating Continental Divide Trail bisects this important pass as it continues to head north.

The rugged and weathered markers play an important role in helping people navigate the 3,100 mile course. As the Continental Divide Trail Organization writes: “The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail is much more than just a line on a map; it is a living museum of the American West, a place to reconnect with nature, and a unifying force bringing people of all walks of life together.”

BLM Idaho’s Salmon Field Office hosts a small portion of the Continental Divide Trail. Wildflowers offer beautiful color to this already amazing landscape.

Photos and post by Sarah Wheeler, BLM Idaho.

Located at the crossroads of the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountain ranges, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon has long been recognized for its ecological importance. The convergence of three geologically distinct mountain ranges resulted in an area with remarkable biological diversity. The Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail meanders 19 miles through the monument, offering challenging hikes with stunning views. Photo by Bob Wick, mypubliclands

So excited to debut these new trail blankets to benefit the nonprofit organizations charged with protecting three of America’s best known National Scenic Trails. The first set in a new series of trail blankets are designed to keep trail enthusiasts warm through the winter, and raise awareness of the importance of protecting and stewarding the “Triple Crown of Hiking Trails.” If you’re at OR show in Utah come check them out. We have 50 first edition blankets for each trail and 100% of proceeds go to support the trail associations. #woolrich1830 #woolrich #madeinusa #wool #blanket #orshow15 #or by woolrichinc