Connecting Youth with Nature… On a Trail

Encouraging youth to learn about the importance of trails along with stewardship and conservation.

by American Trails Staff

An important trend has been documenting the benefits of trails, not only in the arena of jobs and the economy, but also health and fitness. American Trails has been a leader in conveying the physical, social, and spiritual benefits of trails in our increasingly harried world. Trails have become the souls of our communities— landmarks that define character and meeting places that beckon outdoor enthusiasts. They also serve as highly effective means to burn calories and combat unhealthy lifestyles among adults.

Now in light of emerging data, American Trails has broadened its lens to focus on children and the effects of outdoor experiences and exercise on their physical and intellectual well being. Our publications, webinars, and Symposium papers call attention to the positive effects of walking in nature, including decreased incidence of impulsive, hyperactivity, and attention deficit disorders among children.

Not only are trails conduits to learning about the natural world, but also cost-effective media that help control problematic behavior and even medical conditions among their youngest users. “Taking a hike” is really a euphemism for taking care of mind, body, and soul.

Also, in April we are hosting 19 young people from across the country and Canada to attend the American Trails International Trails Symposium. The new Hulet Hornbeck Youth Scholarship Fund will support training and mentoring opportunities for these young trail enthusiasts. Our goal is to encourage learning about the importance of trails along with stewardship and conservation.

— Jennifer Rigby, American Trails Board and Director of The Acorn Group/Acorn Naturalists

More Articles in this Category

Information Management Skills and Competencies

Database management; website development; trail and facility inventories; trail assessment and maintenance records; identifying and gathering needed information.

Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Water Trail, Wisconsin

A 250-mile water trail along the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers in Wisconsin, extending from the City of Green Bay to Portage and ending in Prairie du Chien at the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.

Rivergreenway, Fort Wayne and New Haven, Indiana

This 23-mile linear park within the cities of Fort Wayne and New Haven in Allen County, IN is located along the banks of the St. Marys, St. Joseph, and Maumee Rivers.

Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, Florida

One of the busiest trails in the nation, this 47-mile multi-use rail-trail is seen as a green jewel in the midst of the state's most highly urbanized county.

2018 NRT Photo Contest Winners Announced

The results are in! Here are our picks from the 136 photos submitted for the 2018 photo contest.

Longest trails: longest paved trail and longest ice skating trail

Do you know of a longer paved trail anywhere? a longer skating trail? other record trails? Let us know at !