Above: Ian, Holli, Keith and Anamaria share their trail moment. Read their stories below.
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, millions of people have flocked to the outdoors. Spending time outside is one of the safest things we can do. As people seek out spaces near their homes to be active at a safe physical distance, trails have proven to be so important to so many—spaces to play, commute, walk, bike, run and explore.
At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we want to capture these moments—moments of joy, moments of solitude, moments for exercise and self-care. We hope these … your stories … will inspire others to explore trails and the outdoors close to home, while helping our local leaders understand how important trails are to the health and well-being of our communities.
Have you recently discovered trails, or are you a long-time trail enthusiast? Either way, we hope you’ll share your “Trail Moments”—and the stories of how trails have impacted your life during COVID-19. Take the survey below, or share using #TrailMoments on social media. Toma la encuesta en Español.
“During these times of uncertainty, it is reassuring to have trails as a constant. My local trail has never been so important to me.”
—Jorge Brito, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“We have never met a trail we did not like. When you are on a community trail, you get to experience the local area. There is always so much to see, whether it is nature, residential, industrial … or the diverse people on the trail biking, running, walking or rollerblading (there are still a few out there!).”
—Dan Brownstein, New Jersey
“Since COVID-19 began, our activities have been limited and our universe has shrunk. But we found that one activity still brings us so much joy—biking as a family on our local trails. ”
“They're more than a connection between two points in space; they connect lives, loves and memories. Our ride on the Chief Ladiga Trail—our #TrailMoments—made me feel connected to everything I loved, and I felt like I had finally come home.”
—Ed Coleman, Columbus, OH
“When the weight of it all is crushing, those [trail] moments outside have given us freedom and time to breathe.”
—Brandi Horton, Arlington, VA
“This is where I’m going to get emotional, because I feel like running saved my life …. If I hadn’t gotten into exercise … [t]here’s no doubt I would have had a heart attack.”
—Vincent Viars, Morgantown, WV
“Trails are a literal escape from the monotony and existential angst of 2020. I am grateful to have rail-trails nearby, and thankful for our park staff and volunteers for keeping them in such nice condition.”
—Amy Collins-Warfield, Ohio
“It's as important as ever for people to know that when everything is out of control, one thing you can control is [going outdoors and taking] advantage of natural resources.”
—Dr. Sam Zizzi, Morgantown, West Virginia
Find your next trail moment and new close-to-home trail experiences. TrailLink, RTC's free trail-finder website and mobile app (iOS and Android), has information on more than 40,000 miles of multiuse trails nationwide, including trail maps, walking and biking directions to get to the trail, and contact information for local trail management organizations.
Share the Trail and Recreate Responsibly
RTC has long urged everyone to learn and practice good trail etiquette to ensure safe experiences for all trail users. But as more and more people flock to the trails, and as individuals and families continue to look to trails for outdoor activity during the pandemic, sharing the trail and recreating responsibly have never mattered more. Do your part to Share the Trail and follow the #RecreateResponsibly guidelines anytime you head outdoors. It’s up to all of us to protect each other and the places we love.