The world has fallen in love with the outdoors once again. Whether we’ve discovered a new favorite pathway that connects us to where we want to go, or journeyed on an epic long-distance trail that inspires us with its breathtaking vistas … millions and millions of people—longtime trail users and newcomers alike—have connected with trails in new and meaningful ways over these recent years.
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.
Since the Great American Rail-Trail® was introduced in 2019, thousands of people have shared their enthusiasm for this vision of an iconic trail that connects the country across 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C., and Washington State.
Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington | Photo by TrailLink user scfroehlich
As of December 2021, an ongoing RTC poll found that 95% of people say they are getting outdoors as much as, or more than, they did prior to the pandemic, and 67% indicate that having access to outdoor spaces has reduced their stress.
Tammany Trace in Louisiana | Photo courtesy St. Tammany Parish
Summary of Activities and Changes in Net Assets for the Fiscal Year Ending Sept. 30, 2021
*Non-operating income represents realized and unrealized gains and losses on investment of restricted assets. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is a nonprofit organization as qualified under Section 501(c)(3) of the IRS Codes.
At RTC, 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.
Get in touch with us and engage with our national community.
Join the movement to connect the nation by trail, creating safe spaces for everyone to walk, bike and be active outside.