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arrow Read about nationwide benefits of RTP funding in the current Recreational Trails Program Annual Report



A billion dollars for trails!

Celebrating 25 years of the Recreational Trails Program


We are celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Recreational Trails Program in December, 2016. Is that important? You bet. RTP is a key funding source for trail projects and programs across the country.

photo of horse riders on steel bridge

RTP-funded bridge on the Mopac Equestrian Trail, Nebraska;
photo from Papio-Missouri River Natural Resources District


RTP funding has been an essential ingredient in creating and improving over 22,000 trail-related projects nationwide, including urban greenways, nature centers, and horse, hiking, mountain bike, and motorized trails, as well as snow and water routes. States continue to add miles of trails as well as needed maintenance and improvements through grants to local project sponsors each year.

It leverages hundreds of millions of dollars of additional support from other sources for trails, encourages cooperation among trail users, and facilitates healthy outdoor activity, as well as economic activity in countless communities.

The RTP is also the foundation for State trail programs. Every State has established its own initiatives with a designated administrator for assistance on trail issues and coordination of trail planning.

photo of cranes with large steel bridge

Celebrating Walk to School Day on the Kalispell to Kila Trail, Montana
Photo from Rails to Trails of NW Montana

Because the funds are distributed for both motorized and nonmotorized projects, all trail interests have incentives to cooperate and learn from each other. Equestrians and cyclists, hikers and snowmobilers, ATV enthusiasts and paddlers, have joined in support of local and regional efforts to meet the trail needs of all users.

RTP funding is highly leveraged by community and State funds, as well as contributions from organizations and businesses. Of the projects completed between 1993 and 2015, total RTP funding was over $1 billion with additional funding of $774 million, showing that RTP dollars were matched by 74 percent of other funds.


Projects using RTP funds illustrate a variety of the ways that trails enhance public lands and communities across America. Some important benefits include facilitation of:

photo of large snow trail groomer

Snowmobile North Dakota winter Trail maintenance equipment;
photo by Kerri Wanner, Snowmobile North Dakota

• Accessibility

• Active transportation

• Economic benefits

• Habitat conservation

• Multiple-use management

• Repair and rehabilitation

• Safe and livable communities

• Safety and environmental education

• Youth service and conservation corps


To further illustrate the variety of trails and accomplishments, the RTP Database also includes a growing online Image Library. Hundreds of photos of examples of RTP-funded projects can be found from every State and the District of Columbia.

Each year new photos are added. Project sponsors are invited to submit photos for use in the Image Library and other publications highlighting RTP funding. Contact


photo of all-terrain vehicles on moountain trail

ATVs on the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System, West Virginia
Photo from Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority

Leading the celebration of the RTP 25th anniversary is the Coalition for Recreational Trails (CRT). This federation of national and regional trail-related member organizations work together to build awareness and understanding of the Recreational Trails Program.

CRT was formed in 1992 following the passage of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) to ensure that the National Recreational Trails Fund (now known as the Recreational Trails Program or RTP) established by that legislation received adequate funding.

Each year CRT selects recipients of its Tom Petri Annual Achievement Awards in recognition of their outstanding use of Recreational Trails Program funds. These national awards, which honor Tom Petri, a former Member of Congress from Wisconsin and longtime champion of the RTP, are announced each June at a special ceremony in Washington, DC. Photos and details of over 100 of the award-winning projects are available online. See the State-by-State list of all Annual Awards for Recreational Trails Program projects since 1999.

photo of people on trail

State Trail Administrators meeting at White Clay State Park, DE;
Christopher Douwes (Left, white shirt) , RTP manager for FHWA;
Mike Passo (center, seated), now Executive Director of American Trails
photo by Stuart Macdonald


RTP annual report for 2016 now available

The 2016 Recreational Trails Program Annual Report highlights the many ways that States use funds to build and improve trails. It includes examples of projects across the country and documents some of the national issues affecting trails. The report was produced by American Trails in partnership with contractor KMS Enterprises, Inc. for the Federal Highway Administration. The report is available on the Federal Highway Administration RTP website.

For more information...

Visit the database of nationwide RTP-funded projects:

See details of the RTP, including funding for each State:

Annual awards from the Coalition for Recreational Trails:

Recreational Trails Program Annual Reports:

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