filed under: economics of trails


The Trail Town Guide

Revitalizing rural communities with bike trail tourism

Breathe more life (and funds) into your rural trailside town. Not every community revival looks the same, but this step-by-step guide shares all the secrets we've learned in our 10+ years of successful Trail Town development. We've built the framework. You just need to pedal it forward.

by The Trail Town Program


Trail Guide


We know this works... because we’ve done it.

Tourism potential was rich, but untapped on the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). The 150-mile trail meets the already popular 185-mile C&O Canal Towpath, which continues to Washington, D.C.

In 2007, The Progress Fund started working to plug the GAP’s rural communities into the economic opportunity the trail created.

In its pioneering 10 years, The Trail Town Program® has become a model for trail community revitalization. Building on the same model, we’ve grown economies on other trails, too. Every trail and every town needs a personal touch, but with these ideals as a backbone, we’ve set towns all across our region on the path to prosperity.

Published June 30, 2015

About the Author


There aren’t cash registers on the trail. So if you want cyclists to boost your local economy, you have to tap your town into that opportunity— actively. Pedal your whole community forward by transforming into a bike-friendly destination where people want to stay, explore and spend. Our Trail Town Program®, created by The Progress Fund, was the first to test this idea. And we’ve proven it works, multiplying the economic impact along the Great Allegheny Passage over 10+ years. We’re the longest-running, most successful Trail Town revitalization project. Follow our lead.

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