Parks, Trails, and Health Workbook

A Tool for Planners, Parks & Recreation Professionals, and Health Practitioners

Consider this workbook as a starting point. Every project is different. This workbook is intended as a guide to be adapted for specific situations.

by National Park Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Parks and trails support community and individual well-being. Access to these resources can help increase residents’ physical activity, support mental health, and foster community and social interactions. Parks and trails development can also benefit local environments and support community wellness. Sensitive areas such as flood plains may be protected, ecosystem services preserved, and areas prone to natural disasters shielded from development that would put people at heightened risk.

Why is a health workbook for park and trail planners needed? Explicit recognition of public health connections and goals in relation to planning efforts is not always obvious. Integrating public health concepts in planning processes can best ensure the full realization of park and trail health benefits.

Purpose of Workbook

This workbook is intended as an outline and quick guide for incorporating
public health considerations in the development of a park or trail. Its
intended and potential uses include helping you:

  • Facilitate interagency and stakeholder discussion and collaboration
    related to parks, trails, and community health issues.
  • Find data and information to engage and enlist new health partners,
    funding resources, and stakeholders.
  • Assess the health and community needs for a new park/trail project
    or enhancement
  • Prepare for a health impact assessment (
    healthyplaces/hia.htm) or for health grant applications

Attached document published April 2020

About the Authors

The National Park Service (NPS) was created in 1916 and today manages over 390 units found in all 50 states and some of the U.S. territories. NPS supports and operates trails in three interlocking arenas: trails in parks, technical assistance to States and communities, and administration of much of the National Trails System.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the leading national public health institute of the United States. The CDC is a United States federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.

More articles by these authors

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Adaptive Trail Mobility Equipment and Programming 101

Apr 11, 2024

This webinar will discuss adaptive recreation equipment and programming, as well as funding resources that can help facilitate equipment purchases and programming.

The Path to Mental Health

Jan 25, 2024

This webinar will demonstrate ecotherapy ideas for attendees to implement in their own communities, on their own trails, and at different scales, and also show the importance of collaboration for community health.

More resources in this category

Increasing the Health and Physical Activity Youth from Under-Resourced Communities through Trail Programs

posted Jun 21, 2024

This program brief involved a search and review of gray literature (websites, government or organizational reports, success stories) to identify programs promoting trail use among youth that are accompanied by process or outcome evaluation data. A full scientific review is also provided.

Why Trails Matter: Trails and Greenways Promote Health

posted Feb 1, 2024

Trails and greenways create healthy recreation and transportation opportunities by providing people of all ages with attractive, safe, accessible and low- or no-cost places to cycle, walk, hike, jog or skate.

STEP IT UP! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities

posted Jan 22, 2024

The Call to Action provides strategies that communities can use to support walking, which we hope will result in long-lasting changes to improve the health and health care of Americans today and of the generations that follow.

Hiking Trails in America

posted Dec 29, 2023

Call it walking. Call it hiking. Seldom has something so much fun also turned out to be so good for us!

703 views • posted 12/29/2023