Travel & Pictorial

America's National Historic Trails: Walking the Trails of History

An inspirational bucket list for hikers, history buffs, armchair travelers, and all those who wish to walk in the hallowed footsteps of American history.

From the battlefields of the American Revolution to the trails blazed by the pioneers, lands explored by Lewis and Clark and covered by the Pony Express, to the civil-rights marches of Selma and Montgomery, this is the official book of the country's 19 National Historic Trails. These trails range from 54 miles to more than 5,000 and feature historic and interpretive sites to be explored on foot and sometimes by paddle, sail, bicycle, horse, or by car on backcountry roads. Totaling 37,000 miles through 41 states, our entire national experience comes to life on these trails--from Native American history to the settlement of the colonies, westward expansion, and civil rights--and they are beautifully depicted in this large-format volume.

About The Author

Karen Berger is the author of 13 other books on hiking. She has hiked more than 18,000 miles all over the world, including thru-hikes of the Triple Crown trails (the AT, PCT, and CDT). She is publisher and editor of the award-winning travel Photographer Bart Smith is the first person to walk all 11 national scenic trails and 19 national historic trails--over 35,000 miles of America's landscape. He is the sole photographer of 10 books showcasing America's national trails. Together, Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan have created some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) connects trail organizations and federal agency partners to further the protection, completion, and stewardship of the 19 National Historic and 11 National Scenic Trails, within the National Trails System.

  • Publish Date: October 13, 2020
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Travel - Special Interest - Hikes & Walks
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 10 x 10
  • Pages: 320
  • US Price: $55.00
  • CDN Price: $75.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-8478-6885-8


"In the United States, we’re not only rediscovering our backyards, but also taking a second look at our history. From Pony Express routes to Civil Rights trails, this is a straightforward and well-executed guide to walking through the past in the present." —Prior Club

“Unknown to many travelers, the National Park Service of the United States has established a national historic trails system that's perfectly designed for planning patriotic versions of the Great American Road Trip. Totaling 31,000 miles in 41 states, the 19 routes of the NHT system are organized by all-American themes both triumphant and tragic, tracing the stories of the Lewis and Clark expedition, the Trail of Tears, the civil rights quest in 1960s Alabama, the Mormon diaspora, and 15 more. The underappreciated program is documented and celebrated in a photography-rich book, America’s National Historic Trails, written by Karen Berger and photographed by Bart Smith. Documentarian Ken Burns and screenwriter Dayton Duncan, who collaborated on PBS's epic 12-hour series on America's national parks in 2009, provide the foreword to the book.” —Frommer's

“Congress created the National Trails System in 1968, and since then it has designated 19 National Historic Trails that commemorate and protect routes of historic significance, special places that allow hikers to experience firsthand ‘the intersection of story and landscape,’ as Karen Berger explains in America’s National Historic Trails. Some trails are coastal routes, while others cross the inland landscape, and they range in length from 54 to 5,000 miles. Stretching across time and weaving throughout the nation’s history, they include the East Coast’s Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail, the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Oregon Trail, Alaska’s Iditarod Trail, Hawaii’s Ala Kahakai Trail and many more. Each entry contains stunning photographs by Bart Smith and a detailed discussion of the history and geography of the route, as well as a list of specific historic sites, such as museums and visitors’ centers, along the way. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast or both, America’s National Historic Trails offers a wealth of touring possibilities. I’m already making a list.” — BookPage

“Eye-opening fun for travel, history, nature, hiking and photography lovers: The newly published America’s National Historic Trails by Karen Berger entices aplenty. This engaging 320-page hardcover spotlights 19 history-making USA trails that stretch across a mind-boggling web of more than 37,000 miles through 42 states—from colonial settlements to westward pioneer quests, American Indian movements to American Revolution battlefields, Lewis and Clark explorations to civil rights marches, Captain John Smith’s Chesapeake escapade to the galloping Pony Express. While traversing all of them, photographer Bart Smith ambitiously shot thousands of images, 325 highlights of which showcase the memorable destinations featured in this book. Crack open its oversize cover, get comfy for epic encounters and imagine your footsteps pursuing these hallowed paths.” — Forbes

“‘One of the best ways to learn history is to literally follow in the footsteps of those who were there,’ says Karen Berger, author of America’s National Historic Trails. ‘These are historic routes—a trail version of the National Park system.’ The 19 federally recognized trails range from 54 to 5,000 miles, and pass largely through rural areas, making them perfect for road trips and socially distant traveling.” — USA TODAY

“For history buffs and trail lovers, America’s National Historic Trails: Walking the Trails of History is a must-give item. Written by Karen Berger, who has authored 13 books on hiking and has completed the Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental Divide Trails, and with stunning photography by Bart Smith, who walked every historic trail mentioned, this coffee-table-worthy book takes you from the Pony Express to the paths of civil right marches and along 17 other trails designated as nationally historic by the National Park Service. The trails range in length from 54 miles to 5,000 and are perfect for socially distant adventures—whether you decide to hike, bike, or armchair-dream about them.” – Outside Magazine

"The Best Coffee-Table Books of 2020. Until you can use your pandemic-acquired hiking skills and walk them, feast your eyes."
— People Magazine

“Kudos for producing such an educational and inspirational book! The informative text and wonderful photo pages together provide an excellent history and presentation of the National Historic Trails and what they offer to visitors. I am recommending this publication to many friends and colleagues.” — Ron Tipton, Former President/CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

“Let this book inspire you to take a journey back in time. Follow the ancient pathways of Native Americans, the river routes of Lewis and Clark, or the winding wagon roads of the early pioneers.  That’s just a sampling of the journeys you can take. In fact, there are over 37,000 miles of historic trails, and while this book can’t guide you on all of those miles, it will help you get started.  Author Karen Berger handily describes the trails’ history and what to expect when on your own exploring expedition. What adds to this book’s appeal is the photographic artistry of Bart Smith and an abundance of his sumptuous images that capture the old byways and the surrounding scenery."
— 2021 National Outdoor Book Award Winner

Author Bookshelf: Karen Berger

Author Bookshelf: Bart Smith

Author Bookshelf: Ken Burns