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.