Experiencing America’s Trails

Celebrate Trails Day 2022 event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Photo courtesy Robin Woods

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Trail use has reached record highs in the past few years, and in fiscal year (FY) 2022, we sought to connect more people with trails—and ensure everyone in America has safe, convenient access where they live so they can walk, bike and be active outside

Throughout the year, we built support for America’s trail networks by highlighting the people and communities leading the charge to make these vital assets possible. We sought ways to harness the renewed energy and excitement of a nation around trails and trail networks—engaging more people than ever before, with a goal to continue to build public demand and support for this essential infrastructure.

Expanding Audiences and Support

Our reach—to readers, supporters, influencers and the wider public—achieved new heights through authentic storytelling, media engagement, and building strong and sustained relationships with our national and grassroots supporter bases.

We aimed to capture and elevate inspirational stories from the rail-trail community through our website, which had over 1.4 million visitors in FY 2022, as well as our TrailBlog, which saw nearly 483,000 individual readers, and our vast social media community of more than 220,000.  

Through our monthly eNews, which reaches 428,000 people, and our flagship publication, Rails to Trails magazine, with a print circulation of about 130,000, we highlighted America’s remarkable trails and champions, past, present and future, and the impact they have regionally and nationally.

In the media, rail-trails and multiuse trails received nearly 34,000 mentions in FY 2022, and RTC was mentioned 2,400 times—including in major outlets such as The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

Trail Moments

Via our Trail Moments initiative, we showcase the stories and personal experiences of America’s diverse trail users across the country that illustrate just how vital trails are to our health and well-being.

In the summer of 2022, we provided weekly challenges and incentives to encourage people to find new ways to be active on trails, including swapping a car trip for a walk or bike ride, discovering nature with kids and other activities. The campaign was featured nationally through a partnership with iHeartRadio on "Elvis Duran and the Morning Show" and "The Breakfast Club." The campaign received more than 82,000 page views in FY 2022.

#TrailMoments With Chelsea Murphy | Photo courtesy Chelsea Murphy
#TrailMoments With Chelsea Murphy | Photo courtesy Chelsea Murphy

#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.

#TrailMoments With Victoria Yuen | Photo by Ellie Kaverman, courtesy Victoria Yuen
#TrailMoments With Victoria Yuen | Photo by Ellie Kaverman, courtesy Victoria Yuen

#TrailMoments With Victoria Yuen

In 2020, Victoria Yuen was looking for a safe way to be active outdoors, so she swapped her car for a bike. After conquering her fears of city biking, Yuen now takes her bike all over Washington, D.C.—and shared her tips for bike commuting with RTC. Read more about Victoria’s bike-commuter transformation.


Celebrate Trails Day

Celebrate Trails Day is the nation’s spring kickoff to the trail season, designed to highligh the impact of trails and trail networks on communities across the country. 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.

A post-event survey showed that, on average, participants spent more than 65 minutes being physically active outside on the trail on April 23 for a combined 812,000 minutes of physical activity. The findings underscore the importance of programming and events in promoting and supporting trail use, and the role of trails in encouraging physical activity.

On Celebrate Trails Day, 24% of participants also reported swapping a short car trip for a walk or a bike ride to their destination!

Celebrate Trails Date 2022 Infographic: States, partners, events and participants
Celebrate Trails Date 2022 Infographic: Trails reduced stress levels
Celebrate Trails Date 2022 Infographic: People swapped car trip for a walk or bike
Celebrate Trails Date 2022 Infographic: Active Minutes on Trail


Rail-Trail Champion

Indiana Rep. Carey Hamilton was named the 2022 Rail-Trail Champion | Photo courtesy Rep. Carey Hamilton
Indiana Rep. Carey Hamilton was named the 2022 Rail-Trail Champion | Photo courtesy Rep. Carey Hamilton

“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.”

—Indiana State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-87)

The Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions Award honors exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to the rail-trail movement through their work, volunteerism or support.

In FY 2022, RTC named Indiana State Rep. Carey Hamilton (D-87) as the 2022 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion. Rep. Hamilton was celebrated for her leadership in founding the bipartisan Indiana Legislative Trails Caucus, which is accelerating investment in the state’s trail system as a strategy to spur local economic development and strengthen neighborhoods. To date, the caucus has secured more than $60 million for Indiana trails. The award was presented at the tail end of Indiana’s Year of the Trails (2021–2022), which was adopted by the state legislature to galvanize support for trails across the Hoosier State.


Rail-Trail Hall of Fame

Maine's Eastern Trail was inducted into the  Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2022 | Photo courtesy Eastern Trail Alliance
Maine's Eastern Trail was inducted into the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2022 | Photo courtesy Eastern Trail Alliance

“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

Since 2007, the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame has been recognizing exemplary rail-trails around the country. Nominees are selected through a range of criteria, and winners are chosen by national public vote.

Congratulations to Maine’s Eastern Trail, our 2022 Hall of Fame inductee, which welcomes 250,000 people each year along a route featuring stunning coastline and dense forests. The developing 65-mile trail is critical to two developing interstate trail networks: the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway that will connect trails from Maine to Florida and the New England Rail-Trail Network, which aims to unite the region’s six states by multiuse trail.