Biennial Conference



From 1988–2018, every two years, the Partnership for the National Trails System convened a conference for the members, partners and allies from the National Trails community. The staff, volunteers, young adults (trail apprentices), federal employees, and private sector professionals brought their experiences, stories and knowledge to share with the entire Trails community. These conferences provided the space for networking and training in skills useful on the trail, in the capitol or in the office of our member organizations. Best practices were shared and we looked at issues that crosscut the National Trails community.

The last several conferences focused on the past Decade for the National Trails Goals. Through raising awareness of the trails, the Partnership and its allies intended to build both public interest and ownership of the National Trails System.  The Partnership aimed to help leverage the resource to complete and maintain each trail in the System. In order to do this work, the Trails System needs strong and resilient organizational stewards for the trails. Assisting the members and partners to become strong and healthy organizations ensures the future of the Trails System.

The three main tracks at the 16th conference were:

  • Telling our stories and engaging new partners
  • Preserving special places and protecting the tapestry of the land
  • Strengthening our trail organizations and our trail communities


Since 2020, PNTS has held a joint workshop for both Scenic and Historic Trail organizations.
Please visit the Workshops Webpage to learn more about the upcoming 2023 National Trails Workshop, November 7-9, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.

2023 National Trails Workshop

Past Conference Locations

1st Conference – Camp Whitcomb (near Hartland), Wisconsin – September 27 – 30, 1988
Host: Ice Age Park & Trail Foundation

2nd Conference – Camp Menucha (near Portland), Oregon – November 14 – 17, 1991
Host: Oregon-California Trails Association

3rd Conference – Kansas City, Missouri – October 23 – 27, 1993
Host: Oregon-California Trails Association
Theme: Connection – 93

4th Conference – Chevy Chase, Maryland – April 8 – 12, 1995
Host: American Hiking Society
Theme: Building Support for Trails

5th Conference – Oveido, Florida – April 12 – 16, 1997
Host: Florida Trail Association
Theme: Sustaining Our Trail Resources

6th Conference – Lake Tahoe, Nevada – September 12 – 16, 1999
Host: Pacific Crest Trail Association
Theme: Discover the Gold – Full funding for America’s National Trails

7th Conference – Casper, Wyoming – August 17 -21, 2001
Host: Oregon-California Trails Association
Theme: Strong Partnerships Make Great National Trails

8th Conference – Fort Smith, Arkansas – October 17 – 21, 2002
Host: Trail of Tears Association
Theme: Telling Our Trails’ Stories – Educating the World about the National Trails System

9th Conference – Bow, Washington – August 21 – 25, 2003
Host: Pacific Northwest Trail Association
Theme: Vision, Strategies, Networking -Building the National Trails System Together

10th Conference – Las Vegas, Nevada – June 18 – 22, 2005
Host: Old Spanish Trail Association
Theme: Connecting with Communities through Education, Tourism, and Stewardship

11th Conference – Duluth, Minnesota – September 7 – 11, 2007
Host: North Country Trail Association
Theme: Healthy Trail Partnerships – Healthy Trail Resources

12th Conference – Missoula, Montana – July 12 – 15, 2009
Hosts: Lewis & Clark Trail Heritage Foundation
Theme: Gearing up for the Decade for the National Trails: Outreach, Protection & Capacity

13th Conference – Abingdon, Virginia – May 14-18, 2011
Hosts: Overmountain Victory Trail Association and Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Theme: Healthy Trails Healthy Communities

14th Conference – Tucson, Arizona – November 3 – 6, 2013
Hosts: Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona, Anza Trail Foundation, Arizona Trail Association, Old Spanish Trail Association
Theme: Weaving the Tapestry of America’s Cultures, Histories, and Landscapes

15th Conference – Franklin, Tennessee – June 27 – July 1, 2015
Hosts: Natchez Trace Parkway Association and Overmountain Victory Trail Association
Theme: Find Your Trail: Planning and Making Pathways into the 21st Century

16th Conference – Vancouver, Washington – October 22 – 25th, 2018
Theme: Pathways to the Future


2024 National Trails Workshop Call for Proposals Open