What is a National Trail?

Student reading a sign in Fells Point

Student reading a sign in Fells Point

The National Trails System Act of 1968, as amended, calls for the establishment of trails in both urban and rural settings for people of all ages, interests, skills, and physical abilities. The act promotes the enjoyment and appreciation of trails while encouraging greater public access. It establishes four classes of trails: national scenic trails, national historic trails, national recreation trails, and side and connecting trails.

A National Historic Trail?

National historic trails recognize original trails or routes of travel of national historic significance including past routes of exploration, migration, and military action.

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail

The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail spans 560 miles across land and water, telling the story of the War of 1812 as it played out in the Chesapeake Bay region. Established in 2008, the trail is one of 19 national historic trails administered by the National Park Service and one of 30 in the National Trails System. Today the Star-Spangled Banner Trail connects historic sites in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and commemorates events leading up to the Battle of Baltimore which inspired Francis Scott Key to write “Defence of Fort M’Henry,” now known as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our National Anthem. The trail traces the path of American and British troops, introduces visitors to communities affected by the war, and highlights distinctive landscapes and waterways of the Chesapeake region.

Visit the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail and its sites online to learn more about the Chesapeake Campaign and the War of 1812!

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