Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

About the PHNST 

The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHNST) is a 900-mile, Congressionally designated trail network that runs from the mouth of the Potomac River in Maryland and Virginia to th PHNST Logo Opens in new windowe Alleghany Highlands in western Pennsylvania. Spanning over 137 miles in Northern Virginia, the PHNST serves as an important historic, cultural, and natural resource for the region's residents and visitors to explore and enjoy.

Explore the Trail

The Northern Virginia PHNST Dashboard serves as an interactive tool to explore NVRC's range of data, maps, and resources for the region's section of the trail. Dashboard users can find background information about the trail system as well as regularly updated data and maps on PHNST attributes, activities, and other features to learn about the trail and support regional trail planning efforts. Click on the image below to go to the dashboard main page. 

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News and Announcements


The National Park Service (NPS) is holding a virtual public meeting on plans to improve the Mount Vernon Trail and the south section of the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which parallels the PHNST/Mount Vernon Trail. The Mount Vernon Trail is a section of the greater Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail.  The improvements will improve safety and address maintenance needs along the trail and parkway.  For more information visit the NPS project website.

Recent Projects

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NVRC has completed Corridor Analysis studies in 2011, 2015, and 2022 to offer synopses of existing and planned segments for the PHNST in Northern Virginia, including relevant information on amenities, accessibility, events and activities, and other key corridor components. The 2022 Corridor Analysis builds off of findings from NVRC’s 2022 Health, Social Equity and Economic Impact Study (see below) which show that completion of the PHNST network could provide important public health benefits and improve tourism, business development, and trail infrastructure for underserved communities. As such, the 2022 Corridor Analysis is structured to help NVRC and relevant stakeholders progress projects and programming that address connectivity and related goals with an expanded focus on existing trail features, including physical attributes, accessibility, and amenities along the trail.  

Components of the 2022 Corridor Analysis are incorporated into the dashboard (see above) through interactive online maps. A written report is also available with additional information on the study's methodology, future trail priorities and needs, and project funding resources.  

2022 Health, Social Equity, and Economic Impact StudyPHNST Next Steps

In January 2022, NVRC released the results of a community impact assessment of the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail in Northern Virginia. The study includes an assessment of health equity, social equity, transportation, and economic impacts of improving trail access, closing trail gaps, and making safe connections to nearby communities. The objective of the study was to assess the public health and community-related impacts associated with use of the trail and to provide recommendations to maximize those impacts and help justify the investment of public funds.  

Trails not only provide a wide range of recreational values, services, and protection of specific natural and cultural features, but they also explicitly contribute to social and economic well-being. To assist the National Park Service, local governments and land managing agencies with completion of their PHNST trail and connection trail gaps, the NVRC, on behalf of its PHNST partners, seeks to develop a deeper understanding about why the trail and its connections are valuable to Northern Virginia residents, businesses, and the economy. Learn more about the study's outcomes and access associated documents and outreach materials on its PHNST dashboard page

NVRC Roles & Responsibilities

NVRC hNPS Logo Simple Colors Opens in new windowas provided planning and management for the Northern Virginia section of the PHNST since the 1990’s, including support prior to Congressional designation. In 2014, management stakeholders, the National Park Service, NVRC, and other relevant partners signed a memorandum of understanding to formalize collaboration, completion, and promotion of trail segments in Northern Virginia. An updated MOU was signed in 2019 to include new management stakeholders and confirm associated roles to oversee and host the trail. NVRC also currently supports the PHNST through a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service to lead trail data and mapping activities, special studies, and sponsor enhancement grant funding for trail construction activities in several jurisdictions.

Memorandum of Understanding Among Trail Partners in Northern Virginia - This memorandum updates a 2014 agreement among trail managers and coordinators representing local, state, regional, and federal partners who host and promote the trail.


In addition the the PHNST dashboard, older studies and planning documents (pre-2015) can be viewed on NVRC's Archives page.