5 National Historic Trails You Have to Experience

Oregon National Historic Trail

Connecting the Missouri River to the heart of Oregon, this trail covers roughly 2,200 miles and was the path for nearly 300,000 emigrants who moved from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean. It took gold prospectors and fur traders months to traverse, but now you can finish the trail in its entirety in a matter of days in the comfort of your own car.

Hike: Wildwood Recreation Area
Camp: Rock Creek Station State Historical Park

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

This trail commemorates a darker portion of our history, specifically the forced relocation of tens of thousands of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. This trail, unlike the others that have been mentioned, doesn't follow one standard path, but encompasses dozens of paths used by the people forced to flee their homes.

Hike: Village Creek State Park
Camp: Trail of Tears State Forest

More: Hiking Checklist: What to Pack for the Trail

Pony Express National Historic Trail

If you have a reverence for receiving handwritten letters in the mail then you'll appreciate the history associated with this trail. Once the most practical means of delivery from east to west, this trail commemorates the men who used to transport mail by horseback. You can drive this route, which runs from Wyoming to California, or try one of the recreational hikes, making occasional stops at sites and museums along the way.

Hike: Little Mountain, Utah
Camp: Fort Kearny State Reservation Area

Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail

This is the only National Historic Trail that has only water routes. It was created to pay homage to Captain John Smith's efforts to map the Chesapeake Bay waterway, the largest estuary in the United States. The historic trail covers nearly 3,000 miles of coastline from Virginia to Washington D.C.

Hike: Piscataway Park
Camp: Smallwood State Park

More: 8 Spots for Lakeside Camping

RAFind a Campground at ReserveAmerica.com.

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