About Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
New York's High Line | Photo by Brandi Horton
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.
Trails connect everyone, everywhere.
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.
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.
For three decades, RTC has served as the national voice for trails, setting the precedent that rail-trails are need-to-have community assets and establishing policies and practices that ensure these trails are built. Here’s how.
We advocate for transformative investments in trails, walking and bicycling at the federal, state and local levels.
We mobilize people across the United States to advocate for safe walking and biking infrastructure in their communities and beyond.
We partner with national organizations; federal, state and local agencies; public leaders; and grassroots advocates to create and connect trails and expand the trails movement.
We help secure funding to develop trail networks that create healthy, thriving communities and serve as models for the country.
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.
We protect trails by continuing to lead the national effort to shape the legal framework around rail-trails and defend them in the courts.
We speak out about the transformative power of trails, encouraging their use and generating demand.
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.
12/31/19 by Amy Kapp
What is a Rail-Trail?
Rail-trails are multipurpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. These paths are flat or gently sloping, making them easily accessible and a great way to enjoy the outdoors. Rail-trails are ideal for many types of activities--depending on the rules established by the local community--including walking, bicycling, wheelchair use, inline skating, cross-country skiing and horseback riding.
Explore the History of Rail-Trails
Check out our interactive timeline below to browse important moments in the history of RTC and trail development in America.