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 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.

More Articles in this Category

Impact of Trails Hub

Everything you need to know about the positive impact of trails on health, environment, economics, and more.

2022 CDT Small Business Survey

As a connector of landscapes, communities, and cultures, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDT) provides a setting for community members, decision makers, conservationists, outdoor enthusiasts, and everyone connected to the lands and waters of the Divide, to come together to discuss how to steward the vital natural, cultural, and historic resources found across its entirety. With this report, the Continental Divide Trail Coalition hopes to highlight the role of the cooperative stewardship model in the management of the CDT, what we accomplished in 2021, and what we are looking forward to in 2022.

Deciding on Trails: 7 Practices of Healthy Trail Towns

A book review of Amy Camp's 2020 book of ideas to help fulfill dreams of developing a trail town program.

Economic Impact of Parks

An Examination of the Economic Impacts of Operations and Capital Spending by Local Park and Recreation Agencies on the U.S. Economy