Economy, Environment and Health Benefit from Trails, Two New Studies Show

Trails contribute more than $8.2 billion to Washington state's economy, according to companion studies released by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

by American Trails Staff

Goose Rock Trail, Whidbey Island, Washington State

According to a press release from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, trails contribute more than $8.2 billion to Washington state’s economy.

"One study, Economic, Environmental, & Social Benefits of Recreational Trails in Washington State, estimates that trail-based activities improve health and reduce medical costs by more than $390 million a year for Washington residents. In addition, trails support 81,000 jobs annually.

“We know that trails provide a lot of benefits. People are healthier when they use trails, trails are good for local businesses and trails are better for the environment,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the state Recreation and Conservation Office. “It just makes sense that state and local leaders should invest in this valuable commodity. Not only will people benefit, but so will the state overall.”

A companion report, Health Benefits of Contact with Nature, looks at the health benefits associated with trails and other outdoor activities. It notes an abundance of benefits from hiking, biking and walking such as improved heart and lung fitness, fewer cardiovascular risk factors, fewer deaths and less coronary heart disease, cancer risk and obesity. It also notes that outdoor exercise, such as on trails, can improve mood, restore attention and decrease anger, depression and stress."

Read more here.

More Articles in this Category

Teaching Kids to be Great Trail Stewards

Trails are an important resource, but sadly we are increasingly seeing trails abused by littering and vandalism. American Trails has created a packet to teach kids to be great trail stewards so the next generation of trail lovers can help lead the way towards better care for our trails.

The Power of Trails for Promoting Physical Activity in Communities

Promoting physical activity among children and adults is a priority national health objective in the United States. Regular physical activity lowers the risk of chronic diseases and is an important strategy for reversing the obesity epidemic.

Green Schoolyards for All Children

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that the creation of nature-rich urban environments, including schoolyards with natural play spaces and gardens, can help improve physical and mental health, cognitive skills, creativity, and social bonding.

Investigating the Thru-hiker Experience: A Study on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail

The phenomena of thru-hiking has been on a dramatic rise, spurring hikers to venture onto increasingly remote and challenging trails over extended periods of time. Despite the recent popularity of thru-hiking, the field remains relatively unstudied. In recreation, the expectations held beforehand have been linked to perceptions after an activity, but this has not been explored in thru-hiking.