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, $22 billion+ in federal funding—including $1.38 billion+ in FY 2022—has supported 40,400+ projects via Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program. In FY 2022, our advocacy alongside partners in 18 states yielded nearly $1.3 billion in state funding.
WE MOBILIZE …
people across the United States to advocate for safe walking and biking infrastructure in their communities and beyond. In FY 2022, more than 7,700 grassroots supporters around the country sent 10,000+ messages to decision-makers in support of trails and active transportation.
WE COLLABORATE …
with thousands of partners, including national organizations; federal, state and local agencies; public leaders; and grassroots advocates to create and connect trails and trail networks, and expand the trails movement. A highlight of the year included our national Celebrate Trails Day, where we partnered with nearly 200 organizations across America, bringing greater awareness to the impact of trails nationwide.
WE HELP SECURE FUNDING …
to develop trail networks that create healthy, thriving communities and serve as models for the country. In collaboration with partners across our TrailNation™ portfolio and the Great American Rail-Trail®—which collectively span 27 states and 11,000+ miles—we have helped direct hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private funds to trail network projects in the past decade.
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 $2.6 million+ in the form of 354 trail development grants to 209 organizations in 33 states and Washington, D.C. Through our TrailNation Collaborative, we work with 6,000+ professionals to accelerate trail network development nationwide.
WE PROTECT TRAILS …
continuing to lead a 30-years-plus effort to shape the legal framework around rail-trails and defend them in the courts. Since 1986, 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 2022, we connected millions of 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.
Through our TrailNation™ initiative, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is collaborating with 300+ trail organizations, active transportation advocates and public leaders to create model trail networks in nine diverse regions around the country. These learning laboratories are demonstrating the benefits of trails to communities and showing what’s possible when trails are central to our lives.
Equitable trail development is a critical factor in how RTC approaches regional trail-network development. This means promoting trail access for all, advocating for critical funding and supporting community-led work.
Learn how these investments made an impact around the country in fiscal year (FY) 2022.
Through RTC’s national trail-finder website and app, TrailLink.com™, we connected both new and longtime trail users with 16.5 million trail pages and 7.2 million maps.
Additionally, some 7.3 million people accessed TrailLink’s unique database of over 40,000 miles of mapped multiuse trails, including more than 25,000 miles of rail-trails.
Most Popular States in 2022
Most Popular Trails in 2022
With the national focus and demand for trails at their highest point these past few years, we continued our work to build out the cross-country route in FY 2022, which is now more than 54% complete with 2,050+ miles. Ultimately, the Great American Rail-Trail® will have a major impact on economic development for hundreds of adjacent communities, generating an estimated $229 million+ in visitor spending and possibly adding $161 million to the GDP each year, according to a study released in May 2022 by RTC and Headwaters Economics.
Since 1986, RTC has shaped the policies that make trails possible while helping to secure billions of dollars for trails and active transportation projects in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
An unprecedented demand for trails in recent years—and the passage of a historic infrastructure bill in late 2021—has presented an opportunity moment for trails, walking and biking, with the potential to create lasting, transformative impact for thousands of communities. We’re leading in this once-in-a-generation moment, elevating and championing innovative funding programs in Congress now available to accelerate local and regional trail network development—and deliver on our goal of making safe walking and biking routes accessible to everyone.
In FY 2022, more than 7,700 grassroots supporters around the country sent 10,000+ messages to decision-makers in support of trails and active transportation.
In the states, we are strengthening partnerships and supporting grassroots advocacy. In FY 2022, that work secured more than a billion dollars in funding for trails and active transportation.
To date, $22 billion+ has been invested in 40,400+ trails and walking and bicycling projects through Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program—together the largest federal funding source for trails and active transportation in America.
For nearly four decades, RTC has served as the nation’s foremost champion for trails, working with thousands of partners to establish and elevate best practices for creating and connecting trails and active transportation networks.
As trails have become part of the fabric of American life, we’ve shifted focus, elevating the impact that connected systems have on communities and regions, and supporting our nation’s trail builders by helping them access essential funding and technical support for their projects.
Prioritizing Equity on America's Trails
RTC is focused on developing resources and partnerships that will result in meaningful change and empowerment in America’s neighborhoods—supporting trail builders and advocates across the country in their efforts to create equitable access to safe walking and bicycling infrastructure—particularly in underrepresented and under-resourced communities, and Communities of Color.
Investing In Equitable and Inclusive Trails Nationwide
RTC awarded a combined $300,000+ to 25 local and national organizations through our 2022 Trail Grants Program to build organizational capacity and develop inclusive and equitable trail programming to engage residents in underrepresented and under-resourced communities. These awards were specifically geared toward projects designed to remove barriers to trail use, through programming and community-led initiatives, for low-income youth, women and Communities of Color.
Trail use has reached record highs in the past few years, and in FY 2022, we sought to bring more trails to more people—and ensure everyone in America has access to safe, convenient trails to be active, reset and connect with friends and family.
Celebrate Trails Day
On Celebrate Trails Day, April 23, 2022—we engaged thousands of people in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who got outside on trails individually or via more than 150 official events to celebrate these vital assets. Nearly 200 organizations helped expand opportunities for an incredible trail experience on Celebrate Trails Day.
#TrailMoments With Chelsea Murphy
She Colors Nature blogger Chelsea Murphy is a self-proclaimed “adventure mom” who loves getting outside. After moving to her husband’s hometown, she started hiking to connect to the community and noticed a lack of diversity in the outdoors. Now, she is committed to building a more inclusive and equitable outdoor experience. Learn more about her efforts and what’s driving her vision.
“Over the past several years, we’ve all experienced how important it is to have safe spaces to walk, bike and be active outside, right where we live. There is more clarity now for everyone about why it matters to invest in outdoor infrastructure, like trails, that make our communities great places to live."
Rail-Trail Hall of Fame
“The Eastern Trail is the epitome of what an outstanding trail should look like—something that links communities together, and is accessible for riders of all abilities, suitable for various types of bikes, and packed with picture-perfect scenery that highlights some of the best parts of our beautiful state."
—Jean Sideris, Executive Director, Bicycle Coalition of Maine
Summary of Activities and Changes in Net Assets for the Fiscal Year Ending Sept. 30, 2022
*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 and their impact.
Since 1986, RTC has worked to bring the power of trails and trail networks to more communities across the country, serving as the national voice for the rail-trail movement. Learn more about the team that makes this work possible and brings the impact of trails to life.
Get in touch with us and engage with our national community.