American Trails celebrates decades of working on behalf of all trail interests. Our website is one of the world's most comprehensive online sources for planning, building, designing, funding, managing, enhancing, and supporting trails, greenways, and blueways.


Since 1988, American Trails has been a training resource and collective voice for a diverse coalition of trail enthusiasts, professionals, advocates, land managers, conservationists, and friends of the outdoors and livable cities. American Trails strives to enrich the quality of life, mental health, and physical health for all people and the sustainable development of communities by advancing and promoting the development, preservation, and enjoyment of diverse, high-quality trails and greenways.

American Trails will continue to keep you informed on both trail know-how and issues critical to the future of trails. With your help, we can increase funding for trails, continue to provide resources and education to the trail community, keep more trails open, and improve the health and well-being of Americans of all ages and abilities, including our children.

Our Mission

American Trails advances the development of diverse, high quality trails and greenways for the benefit of people and communities. Through collaboration, education, and communication, American Trails raises awareness of the value these trail systems offer.


American Trails envisions the nation’s public trails and greenways being within reach of all people wherever they live, work, and play. This vision ensures that:

  • We connect people with the natural world by enabling those who build, maintain, use, and dream of trails.
  • We improve the nation’s quality of life, health, and well-being with trails and greenways used for recreation and transportation.
  • We invigorate communities financially by supporting trails that add valuable amenities that spur economic development.

History of American Trails

The first symposium 46 years ago a group of trails enthusiasts formed the National Trails Council in Chicago, so that they could continue to work on trails issues on a national level, and not lose momentum from the symposium.

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Core Values

At American Trails, we uphold a set of collective principles and ideals that guide our thoughts and work:

Teamwork — we understand we must work together as an organization and take an active role in serving the needs of trail communities.

Respect — we treat our staff, board members, colleagues, partners, and all members of the broader trails community with respect and dignity.

Fiscal Responsibility — we make sound economic decisions in order to generate the revenue that supports our work in service to our mission and vision.

Healthy Lifestyles — we understand the importance of health, fitness, and well-being, and reflect this understanding in our own lives.

Diversity — we promote diversity, as reflected in cultural background, age, gender, physical ability, and other factors, in the organization and its varied activities.

Inclusivity — we value the contributions each person makes, as staff, members of the Board and organization, delegates at the International Trails Symposium, and participants of American Trails programs.

Guiding principles

American Trails seeks trails and greenways that promote:

Accessibility: A national infrastructure of trails and greenways that are a part of everyday life and accessible to all people of varying abilities, ages, and backgrounds

Healthy lifestyles: Improved fitness, health, and well-being for all people through trails and greenways that offer opportunities for physical activity, recreation, rejuvenation, and preventative health care

Economic vitality: A trail system that contributes to the financial strength and attractiveness of a community by enhancing business opportunities, tourism, and property values

Sustainable development: A trail system that offers alternative transportation opportunities, contributes to the health and vitality of a community, and connects people to nature

Best practices: Innovative, sustainable, and technically sound guidelines that are understood and applied by decision makers in the planning, design, development, and construction of high quality trail systems

Experiences in the outdoors: Responsible and enjoyable opportunities that are afforded to all trail users and contribute to each community of trail recreationists

Appreciation for the outdoors: Inspiring trail experiences that cultivate an appreciation for our natural and cultural heritage

Learning in the outdoors: Educational and interpretive opportunities that promote understanding, skills development, and appreciation of the environment

Connectivity: Trail systems that link communities, natural areas, and people as a means of recreation and transportation

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