Why Trails?

Where would we be without trails? It is a simple question, but it is worth pondering. The longer you sit with this question, the more you will discover the overwhelming impact that trails have on our lives, often in very unexpected ways.


Trails Are Restorative

Whether hiking, bicycling, riding on horseback or participating in motorized recreation nearly everyone uses trails for a similar goal – to spend time outdoors. This time outside, whether a short walk down a paved trail to work in an urban setting, or a hike to a point reachable to only a few Americans makes trail users happier people.

Physical Health

photo credit: Charlotte Karlsen, Unsplash

Mental Health

Your guide to the benefits of trails for individuals, communities, and economies.


Trails, by their very nature, promote social, racial, gender, and economic equity. They are almost always free to use, are available 24/7/365, and provide transportation alternatives no matter what mode of travel you use.

Read more about trails and equality

Trails Make Economic Sense

(*Image via The Outdoor Industry Association)

Trails are the foundation of the recreation industry

Hiking trails, equestrian trails, OHV trails, water trails, biking trails, and snow trails are all integral to the $887 billion dollars brought in annually by outdoor recreation.

Learn More

Healthy Trails, Healthy Community

  • For every 1 dollar spent in trails, there is a 3 dollar savings in healthcare costs.
  • More overall physical activity is measured in communities after trails are built.
  • Cardiovascular benefits are seen across all trail user types. This means healthier hearts, and a reduction in preventable disease, for trail users.
  • Commuting by foot or bike gains popularity when trails go into a community. This both reduces traffic and creates a healthier more physically active community.

Trails are Transportation

photo credit: Adam Dubec, pexels

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


photo credit: Mike Bullington

Trails are not viewed as Critical Infrastructure

photo credit: Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail maintenance backlog on public lands

photo credit: NPS

Capacity and overuse

User conflict

How You Can Help

photo credit: edwin andrade, unsplash

Vote trails

Enjoy a trail

32,361 views • posted 02/19/2020