Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Fiscal Year 2021 (Oct. 1, 2020–Sept. 30, 2021) Impact Report chronicles a year of momentum and victory for the trails movement. Explore the ways that, together, we are making a difference.
IMPACT REPORT FY 2021
Advancing a Great American Icon
Washington's Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo by TrailLink user scfroehlich
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.
Hundreds of partners have stepped forward with a collaborative energy for our collective vision. Millions of dollars have been invested in connecting the trail. Leaders across the route are innovating with a strong commitment to finish their portions of the Great American Rail-Trail, which is already 53% complete—with 150+ completed host trails.
An estimated $15.6 million in public and private funds was invested in FY 2021 to help complete or connect trails along the route. Several major awards supported vital trail connections in Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. This makes $34+ million raised for the Great American in three years.
Trail projects in Nebraska, Illinois, Washington, Montana, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa were completed in 2021, making for a collective 2,000+ miles to date, and 120 miles are in the pipeline for development.
Nebraska celebrated the reopening of the Lied Platte River Bridge—a critical connector in the route between Omaha and Lincoln—in July 2021 after it suffered significant flood damage. In Washington, the refurbished Renslow Trestle in Kittitas County along the 285-mile developing Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail opened, providing a much-needed safe pedestrian/bike crossing over a major multilane interstate.
Explore the interactive map to learn more about the “Great American” route.
The Inaugural Expedition
In 2021, five U.S. veterans representing the nonprofit Warrior Expeditions became the first through-riders in history to complete the Great American Rail-Trail (though their journey took them on detour routes as the entire trail is not yet completed).
A Pathway for Healing
Among Great American host trails in development is Nebraska’s 4-mile Northern Cheyenne Healing Trail, which received significant funding from the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program in 2021. The trail will serve to memorialize the legacy of 130 men, women and children held captive in Fort Robinson who made a bold move toward freedom in 1879.
In December, partners and trail users from across the country converged to celebrate the progress made to date on the Great American Rail-Trail.