About Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park | Photo courtesy RTC
At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we are building a nation connected by trails. We reimagine public spaces to create safe ways for everyone to walk, bike and be active outdoors. That's our mission.
Since 1986, RTC has worked to bring the power of trails to more communities across the country, serving as the national voice for the rail-trail movement.
With more than 1 million grassroots supporters, 24,000+ miles of rail-trails on the ground nationwide and more than 8,000 miles of rail-trails ready to be built, our focus is on linking these corridors—creating trail networks that connect people and places, bringing transformative benefits to communities all across the country. Our flagship initiatives—the Great American Rail-Trail™, TrailNation™ and TrailLink.com—bring that strategy to life, connecting millions of people by trail.
A nation where trails connect everyone, everywhere—that’s our vision.
Here’s how we’re turning vision into reality.
WE ADVOCATE …
for transformative investments in trails, walking and bicycling at the federal, state and local levels. To date, $20+ billion in federal funding—including $850 million in FY 2021—has supported 40,000+ projects via Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program. In FY 2021, our advocacy alongside partners in 17 states yielded $1.35 billion in state funding and a more than doubling of federal funding for trails, walking and biking.
WE MOBILIZE …
people across the United States to advocate for safe walking and biking infrastructure in their communities and beyond. In FY 2021, 51,000+ messages were sent to decision-makers from grassroots trail supporters—including 33,000 to federal officials.
This advocacy has yielded billions of dollars for trails and active transportation, and generated the political will needed to accelerate the development of equitable, accessible trail networks nationwide.
WE COLLABORATE …
with national organizations; federal, state and local agencies; public leaders; and grassroots advocates to create and connect trails and expand the trails movement. Our work in FY 2021 with hundreds of partners led to major advances in policy, funding and engagement for trails and trail development. We provide resources and information to more than 7,000 professionals working on trail network development nationwide.
WE HELP SECURE FUNDING …
to develop trail networks that create healthy, thriving communities and serve as models for the country. In 2021, coalition partners within our TrailNationTM and Great American Rail-Trail® domains—which span 27 states and 11,000+ miles—collectively raised $146+ million in public and private funds for trail network projects.
WE SUPPORT TRAIL BUILDERS …
by providing best practices and trail planning resources, technical support and capacity-building grants to rural, suburban and urban communities seeking to connect their trail systems and create joyful, vibrant, equitable and inclusive public spaces. Since 2008, we’ve awarded $2.4+ million in the form of 332 trail development grants to 243 organizations in 34 states and Washington, D.C.
WE PROTECT TRAILS …
by continuing to lead the national effort to shape the legal framework around rail-trails and defend them in the courts. Since 1983, we’ve been involved in 60+ legal cases, including landmark state and federal cases that have laid the groundwork for the national trails movement.
WE SPEAK OUT …
about the transformative power of trails, encouraging their use and generating demand. In FY 2021, we connected more than 10.5 million people to trails via TrailLink.com™ and engaged millions of people in loving and supporting trails via our #CelebrateTrails and #TrailMoments campaigns, and our national storytelling platforms.
At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we believe that everyone has the right to safely walk, bike and be active outside. Our work is guided by our shared values—centered on respect, equity, integrity and the opportunity to unite people around a common appreciation for trails. We are bold. We are inclusive. We are transformative. We are compassionate.
At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we believe that every person—regardless of race, gender, geography, income, age, ability, sexual orientation or expression, or other minority status—deserves access to free, accessible and safe places where they can walk, bike and be active. We believe trails have the power to transform communities and create joyful, vibrant public spaces that are equitable and inclusive.