The New Jersey Trails Program was established with the passage of the New Jersey Trails System Act in 1974, laying the groundwork for a network of trails that provide for outdoor recreation and an appreciation of the outdoor, natural and remote areas of New Jersey. The act charged the Department of Environmental Protection with the task of establishing a trails plan. The first Trails Plan was created in 1982, updated in 1996 and again in 2009.
With the establishment of the National Recreational Trails Fund Act in 1993, the New Jersey Trails Program administers federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) grants to develop, maintain and restore trails and trail-related facilities.
The New Jersey Trails Council provides assistance to the Trails Program and acts as an advisory body to the Department. The Council is instrumental in the formulation, review and implementation of the Trails Plan, as well as making funding recommendations to the Commissioner regarding RTP applications. The Trails Council consists of citizens with interests in different types of trail use, representatives from conservation or recreation organizations and other state agencies.