Trails Are Transportation

Trails are critical infrastructure and, as such, they should receive the financial and human resource allocations necessary to maintain their critical role.

The growth in trails and trail use of all kinds are changing communities and improving lives across the country. Since 1965, trail mileage on Federal and State Lands have grown by nearly 2.5 times. The growth of multi-use trail mileage and systems is even more significant, with over 22,107 miles of these highly accessible trails being built since the movement started in the late 1960’s. In fact, the rate of mileage growth continues at pace, as more communities realize that trails are essential to a community’s connectivity and livability.

Where in the past trails were confined to the purview of the Parks and Recreation Industry, trails have become essential quality of life infrastructure. Trails are key to helping both mega-regions and small rural communities compete, stay connected and remain relevant in an economic development environment where amenities, particularly amenities that create access to vibrant, active recreation are sought after. Communities as diverse as Dayton Ohio, Bentonville, AR and Philadelphia, PA to name a few, are using trails as important tools in their work to stay relevant in today’s increasingly competitive environment for communities of all sizes.


More resources in this category

Why Trails Matter: Trails are Inclusive

posted Jan 12, 2024

Trails, if designed well, can promote equitable access to the outdoors for people of all ages and abilities, bringing together people with diverse social, racial, gender, and economic identities. Inclusive trails don't just happen. It takes a robust public engagement process, inclusive approaches to trail programming, public awareness efforts and trail enhancements to meet the diverse needs of the entire community.

Why Trails Matter: Outdoor Learning

posted Sep 10, 2023

Getting outside can help you learn, and trails play a critical role in accessing natural places and learning to love them.

Why Trails Matter: Resilience to Wildfire

posted Aug 9, 2023

Trails connect suburban and rural communities to wild places, and they can play an important role in landscape resilience, as wildfire becomes more frequent in the wildland-urban interface (WUI) where homes are increasingly being built.

Why Trails Matter: In Praise of Water Trails

posted Jul 12, 2023

This article is intended to inspire and support trail managers, designers, volunteer groups, and individuals with information you can use, whether you want to get out and explore an existing water trail or begin the process of designating a new water trail in your community. 

2,334 views • posted 02/20/2020