Trail user survey box on the Paulinskill Valley Trail.
Trail User Surveys in New Jersey
Years: 2010 to present
A grant from the F. M. Kirby Foundation has funded trail user surveys and economic impact analysis studies in New Jersey. These studies utilized a survey methodology previously tested on Pennsylvania and New Jersey trails. Surveys were designed to monitor trail user characteristics and economic impact.
Paulinskill Valley Trail (2010)
The Paulinskill Valley Tail is a multi-use trail that runs for 27 miles in New Jersey from Brugler Road in Knowlton Township, Warren County, to Sparta Junction in Sussex County.
Survey forms were available at six locations along the Paulinskill Valley Trail from the beginning of June through October 2010. Completed responses were mailed back to RTC. In all, 374 completed survey forms are included in this analysis.
Infrared trail counters were placed at two locations along the trail, Spring Valley Road and Warbasse Junction Road. Estimated annual trail user visits at these two locations were estimated at 9,128 and 11,416, respectively. Annual economic impact was also estimated for these two locations and totaled $217,000.
Morris County Trails (2010)
Morris County, N.J., has a diverse network of trails for walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians. They run the gamut from the urban Traction Line Recreation Trail in Morristown, which runs alongside a New Jersey Transit commuter rail line, to the wild and scenic Black River Wildlife Management Area Trail.
Survey forms were available on five different trails across the county: the Columbia Trail; Loantaka Trail; Patriots Path—Black River Wildlife Management Area segment; Patriots Path—Morris Township segment; and the Traction Line. The study period ran from the beginning of June through October 2010. Completed responses were mailed back to RTC. In all, 385 completed survey forms are included in this analysis.
During the summer and fall of 2010, a passive infrared counter was placed at the Long Valley trailhead of the Columbia Trail. The counter was placed on the trail on June 1 and remained until November 4. The counter collects data on the number of trail users passing the counter by detecting each user's "heat signature." During 2010, an estimated 32,572 trail users passed through the gate at the Long Valley Trailhead of the Columbia Trail. The estimated annual economic impact of users at this one location was estimated at $300,000.
Sussex Branch Trail (2011)
The Sussex Branch Tail is a multi-use pathway that runs for 18 miles in New Jersey from Waterloo Road in Byram Township to Mill Street in Branchville, Sussex County.
Survey forms were available at eight locations along the Sussex Branch Trail from mid-May through October 2011. Completed responses were mailed back to RTC. In all, 304 completed survey forms are included in this analysis.
Two inferred trail counters were placed on the trail. Based on the collected data, we estimated there are more than 13,000 annual user visits to the Sussex Branch Trail. An analysis of the economic data and the trail user counts leads to an estimate of the annual economic impact of the trail on the communities it passes through. The estimated annual economic impact of the Sussex Branch Trail for 2011 is $239,000.
Henry Hudson Trail (2011)
The Henry Hudson Trail is a multi-use pathway that will run for 24 miles when fully completed in Monmouth County, N.J.. A continuous 12-mile northern segment stretches from Highlands to Matawan. The 12-mile southern segment currently affords 10 miles of off-road trail from Church Road in Matawan to Freehold.
Survey forms were available at 10 locations along the Henry Hudson Trail from mid-May through October 2011. Completed responses were mailed back to RTC. In all, 231 completed survey forms are included in this analysis.
Three infrared trail counters were placed on the trail in mid-May. The counter on the northern section was vandalized but the two counters on the southern trail segments remained in place from May 17 through August 17. From other information gathered in the survey, an estimate of users of the northern segment was also developed. Based on an RTC-developed model, we estimate there are more than 48,000 annual user visits to the Henry Hudson Trail. An analysis of the economic data and the trail user counts leads to an estimate of the annual economic impact of the Henry Hudson Trail to be in excess of $910,000.