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Impact Report FY 2023

Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail | Renee Rosensteel

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Fiscal Year 2023 (Oct. 1, 2022–Sept. 31, 2023)Impact Report chronicles a year of momentum and victory for the trails movement. Explore the ways that, together, we are making a difference.

Leveraging This Moment for Impact

Group on trail - Photo courtesy Getty Images
Photo courtesy Getty Images

A once-in-a-generation moment. A landmark opportunity. Unprecedented enthusiasm.

Over the past several years, these are all ways we’ve described the momentum driving the national movement to connect the nation by trail. Fueled by a more than doubling of federal funding for trails, walking and biking; surging demand for trails by people and places; and hundreds of communities working to advance their visions of connected trail and active-transportation systems, the promise of this moment is unparalleled. In Fiscal Year 2023, we saw how this promise will be realized.

With your support, and working alongside hundreds of partners and agencies across the country, RTC helped elevate trails—and more importantly, connected walking and biking routes—as essential infrastructure to the well-being of people, places and the planet.


Elevating Opportunity

Trails connecting everyone, everywhere. That’s our vision. Here’s how we’re turning vision into reality …

Ohio's Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail | Photo by Jason Cohn
Ohio’s Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail | Photo by Jason Cohn

for transformative investments in trails, walking and bicycling at the federal, state and local levels. To date, nearly $24 billion in federal funding—including $1.4 billion+ in FY 2023—has supported 40,500+ projects via Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program. In FY 2023, our advocacy alongside partners in 15 states helped secure more than $533 million in funding for trails, walking and bicycling.

Ben Franklin Bridge walkway connecting Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey | Photo courtesy RTC
Ben Franklin Bridge walkway connecting Philadelphia and Camden | Photo courtesy RTC

people across the United States to advocate for safe walking and biking infrastructure in their communities and beyond. In FY 2023, supporters sent more than 20,000 messages to federal decision-makers in support of trails and active transportation.

Celebrate Trails Day event in Exton, Pennsylvania | Photo by Mark Yanigasawa
Celebrate Trails Day event in Exton, PA | Photo by Mark Yanigasawa

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. A highlight of FY 2023 was Celebrate Trails Day, where we partnered with more than 200 organizations and brands to elevate and celebrate the impact of trails on people and communities.

Washington's Olympic Discovery Trail | Photo by John Gussman
Washington’s Olympic Discovery Trail | Photo by John Gussman

people and places by developing trail networks that create healthy, thriving communities and serve as models for the nation. In collaboration with partners across our TrailNation™ portfolio and the Great American Rail-Trail®—which collectively span 27 states and the District of Columbia, and nearly 12,000 miles—we helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars in public and private funds for trail network development in FY 2023.

Black People Who Hike August 2023 event | Photo courtesy Black People Who Hike
Black People Who Hike August 2023 event | Photo courtesy Black People Who Hike

by providing best practices and trail-planning resources, technical support and capacity-building grants to communities of every shape and size seeking to create and connect joyful, vibrant, equitable and inclusive public spaces. Our TrailNation Collaborative engages 7,500 trail advocates and professionals from across sectors to accelerate trail network development in America. Since 2008, we’ve also awarded nearly $3 million in the form of 380 trail development grants to 225 organizations nationwide.

U.S. Capitol Building | Photo courtesy Getty Images
U.S. Capitol Building | Photo courtesy Getty Images

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.

Washington, D.C.'s Metropolitan Branch Trail | Photo by India Kea
Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Branch Trail | Photo by India Kea

the transformative power of trails, building demand for this infrastructure and encouraging people to make trails part of their everyday lives. In FY 2023, we connected millions of people to trails via TrailLink™, RTC’s trail-finder platform, and engaged millions more in loving and supporting trails via our national storytelling and engagement campaigns like #CelebrateTrails and #TrailMoments.


Wisconsin’s Oak Leaf Trail | Photo courtesy Riverside Park Urban Ecology Center

Through our TrailNation™ initiative, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is demonstrating the transformative impact of connected trail networks on America’s communities. As the program expands in ways that maximize its on-the-ground impact, the model projects, technical assistance and multisector learning community at the core of the initiative come together to accelerate the creation of these vital assets nationwide. With TrailNation, we are redefining how trail and active transportation networks are built so we can more quickly create a nation connected by trails, where everyone can safely walk, bike and be active outside.

Creating Connections Across 12,000 Miles

Through our portfolio of trail network projects ranging from 35 to 3,700 miles, we’re showcasing the outsized benefits that connected trails and active transportation routes can deliver—locally, regionally and nationally.

In FY 2023, in collaboration with hundreds of partners, we secured more than $200 million in public and private funds for projects within our TrailNation footprint, which covers an estimated 12,000 miles in 27 states and the District of Columbia, to expand and connect trails, and activate spaces to get more people outside.

Getting Communities Access to Landmark Trail Funding

In recent years, RTC has worked to ensure that communities across America benefit from the landmark funding for trails and active transportation passed in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). We’re working with our local, state and regional partners to channel this funding in support of safe, connected trails and active transportation infrastructure.

Examples of that success can be seen in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s announcement of RAISE funding in June 2023, in which $25 million was awarded to advance connectivity in two counties in Maryland and the District of Columbia through the 800-mile Capital Trails Network$19 million was granted for the buildout of the Camden County LINK, a section of the 800-mile Circuit Trails network that will reconnect underserved neighborhoods in Camden, New Jersey, to essential infrastructure and regional destinations; and $5.6 million went to complete a section of the Kenosha County Bicycle Trail in Southeast Wisconsin’s 700-mile Route of the Badger.

In other significant funding successes, RTC and partners moved the dial forward for the 225-mile Miami LOOP, securing $200 million for the Shared-Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Program, which aims to create and connect trails across the Sunshine State—and in California, where eight trail projects within the 2,600-mile Bay Area Trails Collaborative received a collective $106 million through California’s Active Transportation Program—boosted with record-level funding from the state legislature in 2022.

Ohio's Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail | Photo by Renee Rosensteel

Unlocking the Economic & Community Development Potential of IHTC Trails

Learn more

Proliferating Trail Networks Nationwide

The unprecedented public funding secured for trails in recent times—mixed with the increasing demand for safe places to be active outside—has created opportunities like never before to complete connected systems of trails, sidewalks and protected bike lanes in every community in America.

In 2023, we primed the pumps to accelerate trail network development by launching the TrailNation Collaborative, a national learning community where advocates, public leaders and professionals can come together to share their experiences and discuss challenges and strategies for trail network development. More than 7,500 people are part of the Collaborative, which, combined with the TrailNation model projects and the TrailNation playbook, is elevating the work to create equitable trail networks in the United States on a national stage.

Related: New TrailNation Collaborative Community to Escalate Trail Network Development Nationwide

Baltimore Greenway Trails Coalition | Photo by Side A Photography
Photo by Side A Photography
Bay Area Trails Collaborative | Photo by Cindy Barks
Photo by Cindy Barks
Capital Trails Coalition | Photo by Richard Anderson
Photo by Richard Anderson
Caracara Trails | Photo by Mark Lehmann
Photo by Mark Lehmann
Circuit Trails | Photo by Thom Carroll
Photo by Thom Carroll
Great American Rail-Trail | Photo by Kara Patajo
Photo by Kara Patajo
Industrial Heartlands Trails | Photo by Jason Cohn
Photo by Jason Cohn
Miami LOOP | Photo by Ken Bryan
Photo by Ken Bryan
Route of the Badger | Photo by Dave Schlabowske
Photo by Dave Schlabowske
New England Rail Trail Network | Photo by TrailLink user jrakis
Photo by TrailLink user jrakis


Washington’s Olympic Discovery Trail | Photo by John Gussman

There was so much progress to celebrate this year along the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail®, which saw mileage increases, record funding wins and key connections created along the route across 12 states and Washington, D.C.

Since its launch in 2019, the route has added 113 miles of trails. This year, 25 miles were constructed—bringing the Great American to 55% complete—and 160 additional miles are in the pipeline. Nearly $42 million in public and private funds were secured in 2023, contributing to the collective $117 million+ that has been raised for trail projects within the Great American Rail-Trail footprint in just four-and-a-half years, and demonstrating the support for this iconic route in the making that will eventually generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in visitor spending for adjacent communities. Of particular note was a $16.1 million federal RAISE award to connect the Olympic Discovery Trail across Washington’s Olympic Peninsula—the developing trail’s western terminus.

funds secured for great american rail-trail infographic by rtc
great american rail-trail mileage in development by rtc
great american rail-trail miles added infographic by rtc
great american rail-trail infographic states traversed by rtc
great american rail-trail total and existing miles infographic by rtc
50m people with 50 miles of great american rail-trail infographic by rtc
great american rail-trail existing trails and trail gaps infographic by rtc
GRT 2023 Infographic
GRT 2023 Infographic

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) also celebrated important connections along the route, including the completion of the historic FIRST AVE Trail in Council Bluffs, Iowa, a key Midwestern segment and historical gem of the Great American that connects to the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge and onward into Omaha, Nebraska. The trail is the site of mile 0 of the first transcontinental railroad, built by the Union Pacific Railroad, as designated by Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Drawing Deeper Connections to Trails—Past and Present

As we seek to draw deeper connections between people, America’s trails and the places connected by these momentous routes, RTC is lifting up the stories of the individuals, events and geographic changes that have shaped America, from millions of years ago to today. In 2023, our History Along the Great American Rail-Trail project and historical marker partnership with the William G. Pomeroy Foundation helped shine a light on some of the unique stories and powerful cultural connections to be found along the route, enabling people to create meaningful relationships to the past and present through their trail experiences. Here are some of our favorite stories we elevated this year.

A Chinese railroad worker on the developing Northern Pacific line in 1905 | Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
A Chinese railroad worker on the developing Northern Pacific line in 1905 | Photo courtesy University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections

Remembering the Chinese Who Built the Northern Pacific

Like many U.S. railroads, the Northern Pacific Railway, completed in 1883 as the nation’s fifth transcontinental line, was built by immigrants—many of them Chinese. Their legacy remains and can be traced today on the NorPac Trail and Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes on the Great American Rail-Trail in western Montana and northern Idaho.

Considered icons of the New Orleans jazz sound, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band recorded their debut album in 1923 at Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. | Photo courtesy Charlie Dahan
Considered icons of the New Orleans jazz sound, King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band recorded their debut album in 1923 at Gennett Records in Richmond, Indiana. | Photo courtesy Charlie Dahan

Indiana’s Place as the Crucible of Music

Richmond, Indiana, along the Whitewater Gorge Trail and Cardinal Greenway—a host of the Great American—was once the location of Gennett Records, which was known for promoting Black musicians in the early 20th century, when few others would. Music legends that graced the studio include Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Charley Patton.

Related: History Along the Great American Rail-Trail | TrailLink


Ohio’s Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail | Photo by Jason Cohn

Through our advocacy, more than 20,000 messages in support of trails and active transportation were sent to federal and state decision-makers from RTC members in 2023.

As the nation’s largest advocacy organization for trails, walking and bicycling, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) works with an estimated 750 organizations and hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters to advocate for vital investments in trails and other active transportation facilities at the federal, state and local levels.

We’ve helped secure billions of dollars for trails, walking and bicycling over nearly four decades—with an estimated $24 billion invested in more than 40,500 projects through Transportation Alternatives and the Recreational Trails Program, together the largest source of federal funding for trails in the country.

Unprecedented Opportunities for Trails, Walking and Bicycling

In the past two years, record levels of dedicated trail funding have been infused into the federal sphere, made possible by the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in late 2021. Within BIL were major increases in funding for active transportation programs such as Transportation Alternatives; an innovative new funding program focused on connectivity; and new eligibilities and programs prioritizing safety, equity and climate—recognizing the role trails can play in achieving goals related to these critical issues.

In FY 2023, our policy work prioritized several goals:​

FY 2023 RAISE Grants Emphasize Investments to Create Connected Trail Networks

We worked hard to ensure that landmark funding for trails, walking and bicycling made possible through BIL was invested in opportunities to create, connect and maintain trails and other active transportation infrastructure across the United States—particularly those in historically under-resourced and underrepresented communities. RTC and the country saw a major milestone in FY 2023 when an estimated $408 million in grants through the highly competitive multimodal RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) program went exclusively to walking and biking projects—including key projects within RTC’s TrailNation™ and Great American Rail-Trail® project portfolios—and a vast majority of projects totaling $1.4 billion included at least an element of walking and bicycling.

“This investment in connectivity marks a cultural evolution in the prevalence and relevance of active transportation in this country. This is a testament to the impactful role that trail networks can play in addressing issues of safety, equity and climate resilience, while delivering quality-of-life benefits and economic opportunity in all types of communities.”

—Kevin Mills, RTC’s Vice President of Policy

USDOT Greenhouse Gas Rule to Track Progress on Transportation Emissions

In November 2023, following several years of advocacy by RTC and the national trail and environmental movements, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) finalized and released its long-anticipated greenhouse gas rule unifying data tracking into a standard so that states, regional planners and the federal government can make informed decisions about which transportation projects to invest valuable tax dollars in to reduce climate emissions. The transportation sector remains the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.

More than 100,000 comments were submitted—including 15,000 from members of RTC—in favor of this rule, which advocates say is a necessary forward step in addressing U.S. transportation emissions.

Across federal transportation and infrastructure programs, significant investments were made in trail and active transportation infrastructure, and the trending place-based demand for connected walking and biking routes became even clearer in FY 2023. Programs like Reconnecting Communities elevated the importance of trails, walking and biking in addressing racial disparities in access to mobility, green space and economic mobility; and the Safe Streets and Roads for All program invested significant funding in traffic-separated active transportation infrastructure. The last round of Safe Streets and Roads for All awarded $800 million in grants, 94% of which accounted for the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians—the fastest-growing segment of traffic fatalities and injuries—and nearly 30% of all the construction grants awarded funded projects that include elements that provide traffic-separated connectivity.

With the influx of options for federal grants, RTC launched an online assessment tool to help local, state and regional partners identify the best federal funding sources for their projects.

Federal Funding Tool | Federal Funding Resources | TrADE | Sign up for Policy Newsletter

Millions of Dollars for Trails in the States

California's Marvin Braude Bike Trail | Photo by Ben Kaufman
California’s Marvin Braude Bike Trail | Photo by Ben Kaufman

At the state level, we focused on laying the groundwork to accelerate legislative investment in trails, walking and bicycling—with a focus on cultivating strong collaborations with trail advocates, public agencies and foundations. RTC was actively engaged in advocacy in 15 state legislatures in FY 2023, where our efforts—along those of many partners—were successful in securing $533 million in new funding for trails and active transportation.

We celebrated a major victory in Florida, where the Legislature designated $50 million annually (doubling the annual earmark) to the Shared-Use Nonmotorized (SUN) Trail Program, a project to create a paved, off-road system of trails statewide. Accentuating this record-level state funding was the additional one-time infusion of $200 million for the planning, design and construction of trails prioritized by the program.

Our efforts were also instrumental in securing a collective $105 million+ for eight trail projects within the developing 2,600-mile Bay Area Trails Collaborative through the California Active Transportation Program. The grants will help build out trails and other active transportation facilities that will improve connectivity and create safe routes, particularly in underserved and under-represented communities across the Bay Area.

Related: Massive Investments in Trails to Connect Millions in California With Safe Community Paths

In North Carolina—which designated 2023 the Year of the Trail as part of an effort to increase investment in trails across the state—the General Assembly passed its long-delayed budget, which provides almost $55 million for trails, including $25 million over two years to start the Great Trails State Plan.

And in the Hoosier State, the Indiana Legislature appropriated $30 million for the Next Level Trails program, bringing the total invested in the program over the last five years to $180 million.

2023 Sees Major Boost for Trails and Active Transportation in Texas

In December 2023, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) announced the recipients of its latest round of federal Transportation Alternatives (TA) awards, designating nearly $350 million to 83 active transportation projects—including 28 shared-use paths, as well as bike lanes, bike-share programs and urban active-transportation plans. With a history of transferring funds away from TA, the awards—56% of which went to large-scale projects totaling nearly $194 million—demonstrate the potential of policy changes in the TA program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to strengthen the impact of these investments on the connectivity of the nation.

Hear what TxDOT had to say about the program changes on an RTC webinar.


Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Branch Trail | Photo by India Kea

Through TrailLink™, RTC’s national trail-finder website and app, we’ve catalogued more than 41,000 miles of multiuse trails to date, helping 90 million people safely and conveniently access and navigate trails in their communities and beyond.

With 13 million trail page views and 7 million trail map views in FY 2023, this unique resource—providing maps professionally vetted by industry experts, as well as detailed descriptions, inspirational photos and firsthand reviews of multiuse trails nationwide—has proved indispensable for connecting people to spaces where they can walk, bike and be active outside close to home or on bucket-list adventures. Our database includes more than 25,000 miles of rail-trails, an incredible milestone for the rail-trail movement and a demonstration of the increasing prevalence of this vital infrastructure for active transportation and recreation.

What TrailLink Users Had to Say in 2023

TrailLink Find Your Trail banner with logo
Find Your Trail on or use the TrailLink App. | Graphic courtesy TrailLink

“I like this app. It allows me to download the trails I like and find new ones, not only where I live but also anywhere the rails-to-trails program has been implemented, which is just about nationwide.”

—TrailLink user The EdSpain

“So far, TrailLink has been super helpful at finding new areas to bike or hike. We’ve just started finding interesting places to adventure, thanks to TrailLink!”

—TrailLink user caravel64

“Rails-to-Trails is a terrific conservancy, and this companion map is a wonderful resource for planning trips to some of the most beautiful rides available. Been using the app for many years, and it continues to get better.”

—TrailLink user Rickciordia

“If you like to find trails, this app has all the information you need.”

—TrailLink user NLeslie11

TrailLink’s Reach Across America

Most Popular
States in 2023

california was the most popular state on traillink in fy23
new york was the second most popular state on traillink in fy23
virginia was the third most popular state on traillink in fy23
florida was the fourth most popular state on traillink in fy23
illinois was the fifth most popular state on traillink in fy23

Most Popular
Trails in 2023

island rail trail was the most popular trail on traillink in fy23
metropolitan branch trail was the second most popular trail on traillink in fy23
americann tobacco trail was the third most popular trail on traillink in fy23
fox river trail was the fourth most popular trail on traillink in fy23
charles river bike path was the fifth most popular trail on traillink in fy23


Black People Who Hike August 2023 event | Photo courtesy Black People Who Hike

For nearly four decades, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has helped hundreds of communities in America plan, build and maintain trails in urban, suburban and rural areas. Now we want to ensure that connecting these trails together and into comprehensive active-transportation networks is at the forefront of how communities prioritize resources. By continuing our long-standing technical assistance work and grants program, coupled with innovative initiatives like the TrailNation™ Collaborative, we are offering critical support to trail builders and advocates across the movement to accelerate their trail network projects, connect more people and places by trail, and ensure the benefits of this infrastructure are felt in communities across America.

Providing Resources for the National Movement

As more trail networks are emerging nationwide, RTC’s Trail Grants program invests in the infrastructure and programming necessary to create more access to trails for more people. These grants help organizations and government agencies accelerate their trail network plans, while supporting community-based organizations working to expand and galvanize these spaces in neighborhoods across the country.

In November 2023, RTC awarded 30 grants for a combined $348,000 to communities to develop and activate their local trail networks, with a focus on engagement and equitable access to safe spaces to walk, bike and be active in the outdoors. Since 2008, RTC’s Trail Grants program has provided more than $2.9 million to 229 organizations.

Related: These 2023 Trail Grants Are Activating Trails and Trail Networks Across the US

Helping All Communities Leverage Federal Funding

RTC is honored to be a part of the National Main Street Center/Main Street America team, which was awarded $5.9 million in April 2023 from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Thriving Communities Program to provide support and technical assistance to 64 communities across the country to access funding opportunities provided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Intended to grow the pipeline of communities that can successfully compete for federal funding, the Thriving Communities Program provides two years of no-cost intensive technical assistance to under-resourced and disadvantaged communities to help identify, develop and deliver transportation projects that strengthen communities. The Main Street America Thriving Communities team will focus on downtowns in rural and Tribal areas.

“Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is thrilled to be part of Main Street America’s Thriving Communities team. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to leverage historic infrastructure funding to advance trail and active transportation network projects that will serve to strengthen the economic health of communities.”

—Liz Thorstensen, RTC’s vice president of trail development

Accelerating Trail Network Development

As demand for trails has increased, we have collaborated with thousands of industry experts to expand and connect safe walking and bicycling infrastructure across America. In FY 2023, we helped accelerate and expand upon these efforts with the launch of the TrailNation Collaborative, a peer-learning community where advocates, public leaders and professionals can come together to share their experiences and discuss challenges and strategies for trail network development. To date, more than 7,500 people have joined the Collaborative.

Our Trail-Building Toolbox and free webinar series are designed to share this collective knowledge with trail professionals across the country to support this critical work. In FY 2023, RTC hosted 18 webinars viewed by more than 4,000 attendees, with topics covering some of the most timely issues within the sector, such as the important role that active transportation plays in reducing carbon emissions and how to create accessible and inclusive events and programming on multiuse trails.


Celebrate Trails Day event in Exton, Pennsylvania | Photo by Mark Yanigasawa

With more than 41,000 miles of multiuse trails on the ground—and at least 150 trail networks developing across America—more people than ever before can reach their destinations by trail and are experiencing the joy and impact that these essential routes deliver.

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), we are capitalizing on this momentum by sharing the stories of this impact across the nation and building a future where trails and trail networks are prioritized as essential to the well-being of people, communities and the planet. In FY 2023, 1.3 million people visited our website, with more than 475,000 readers exploring the inspirational stories on our TrailBlog. Our social media community also grew to more than 230,000, building on our efforts to reach more people in communities around the country.

Through our monthly eNews, which reaches 500,000 people, and our flagship publication, Rails to Trails magazine, reaching 120,000 members, we highlighted America’s remarkable trails and champions, past, present and future, and the impact they have regionally and nationally. Media mentions for the organization, key projects (like our Great American Rail-Trail®) and rail-trails in general exceeded 38,000 and included major outlets such as The Washington Post, National Geographic, Outside magazineand more—a sign of increased visibility for the impact RTC delivers and the potential of the trails movement nationwide.  

Trail Moments

Through our Trail Moments campaign, we’re sharing the powerful stories of transformation, and the far-reaching benefits trails deliver related to health, economic vitality, alternative transportation, social equity, climate and beyond. In 2023, the campaign generated over 5 million impressions on social media and via our national partnership with iHeart Radio.

Here are some highlights from 2023!

Tandem bike ride | Photo courtesy of Ajoa Abrokwa
Tandem bike ride | Photo courtesy of Ajoa Abrokwa

#TrailMoments With Ajoa Abrokwa

Helping people explore trails and the outdoors is a mission for Ajoa Abrokwa (@SheIsFocused_Next). Learn how she leverages Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River Trail and the regional Circuit Trails network to create community for family and friends.

Chris Hill on a bike commute | Photo courtesy Chris Hill
Chris Hill on a bike commute | Photo courtesy Chris Hill

#TrailMoments With Chris Hill

High school teacher Chris Hill rides his bike to work each day for his mental and physical well-being, and to be an example to his students. Learn more about how he prepares for his daily commute and why he values trails.

Celebrate Trails Day

For the past decade, we’ve teamed up with our partners each spring to encourage everyone to get outside for a special single-day celebration on the trail. Celebrate Trails Day takes place on the fourth Saturday of April, providing an opportunity for people to come together to showcase the impact of trails in their lives, and build support for trails in new and meaningful ways.

More than 220 partner organizations came together for Celebrate Trails Day in April 2023, and 120+ events were hosted. All told, 13,000 people throughout all 50 states and Washington, D.C., participated, reporting a combined 1.3 million active minutes spent on trails that day! Falling on Earth Day this year—April 22—many activities featured people- and planet-healthy activities, including volunteer cleanups, tree plantings and opportunities to learn about local wildlife.

“I love how the trails are connected more to each other now, and I can ride my bike farther just on trails. Being off roads is great; seeing others enjoying the trails is wonderful.”

—Celebrate Trails Day participant in Lewiston, New York
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic about participants by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic about activities by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic about stress level reduction by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic about active minutes by RTC

Rail-Trail Champion

In 2023, RTC named Washington Gov. Jay Inslee a Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion, an award that honors exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to the rail-trail movement through their work, volunteerism or support.

Gov. Inslee’s dedication to the state’s trail system, and the impact that trail connectivity can deliver for the well-being of people, places and the planet, began when he was a state legislator, and has continued in his role as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and now as governor. Most recently, Gov. Inslee championed a $1.3 billion investment for active transportation and trail projects under the Move Ahead Washington program, the largest investment in trails, walking and biking in the state’s history, as part of plans to accelerate the development and connectivity of transportation infrastructure across the state.

“When you believe yourself connected to a larger enterprise or a larger dream, it inspires you to take more local action …. We have to beat climate change, and these trails are one mechanism for beating climate change … allowing for bicycle commuting … it’s part of our climate, economic and health-based approaches.”

—Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

Hall of Fame

Photo by Melody Revnak
Photo by Melody Revnak

A connected pair of trails in northern California—the Sacramento River Rail Trail and Sacramento River Trail—together became the 37th inductee in RTC’s Hall of Fame in 2023, joining an exemplary list of trails recognized for their outstanding scenic value, use, amenities, historical significance and community benefit. More than 30,000 votes were cast in the contest.

Nestled beneath the Cascade and Trinity mountains, the 21-mile trail duo follows California’s largest river, providing opportunities for the community to be active, access the outdoors, and connect to neighborhoods and destinations in and around the City of Redding. The trails also serve as a backbone for a developing 250-mile regional trail system.

“We are grateful for our many partners who have collaborated on the development and expansion of the trails and our many users and support organizations who make the trails better every day. We invite you to visit and experience these world-class trails and scenic river.”

—Kimberly Niemer, Director of Community Services, City of Redding


Photo courtesy Getty Images

As the foremost defender of rail-trails, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) continues to protect rail-trails in America’s courts and provide important technical assistance on legal issues, having been involved in more than 60 cases to date.

Our legal team participates in cases and legal proceedings that have implications for rail-trail conversions with a simple objective—protecting the legal and policy framework for railbanking. This statute has helped make an estimated 194 rail-trails—totaling 4,400 miles of railbanked trail—possible since 1983.

Defending New Jersey’s Potential “High Line”

New Jersey’s Harsimus Branch Embankment, an elevated, century-old rail corridor in Jersey City spanning six blocks, has the potential to be a stunning and impactful rail-trail similar to New York City’s famed High Line. In 2023, RTC advocated before the courts and the Surface Transportation Board—the federal regulatory agency for railroads—to protect the historical structure, which had been sold by Conrail for private development despite rules that should have prevented this action. RTC’s involvement with this litigation, which has been ongoing for more than a decade, has been instrumental in positioning the corridor for future conversion into a trail, which will include connections to regional and national trail systems such as the 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway.

Legal Success in the Sunshine State

A Florida rail corridor now has the potential to become a trail, thanks in part to RTC’s advocacy before the Surface Transportation Board in 2023 to challenge the misuse of the federal railbanking law by a holding company owned by a railroad in Pinellas County. Negotiations for the sale of the corridor can now move forward with the City of St. Petersburg, which is seeking to convert it to a rail-trail.



Summary of Activities and Changes in Net Assets for the Fiscal Year Ending Sept. 30, 2023

fy23 financials revenue chart
fy23 financials expenses chart
fy23 financials net assets

*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.


Team RTC

2023 RTC staff photo | Photo by Joe LaCroix

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (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.


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