Above: 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.
“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, Columbus, Ohio
“We take for granted these public spaces and the impact they can have … just to be able to take a run and connect with nature and back into your own mind is priceless.”
—Quest Skinner, Washington, D.C.
“We stopped at several rail-trails and went on some of the most beautiful runs I've experienced in a decade …. Running on trails was one of the best and most enjoyable ways to see the country safely.”
—Hollie S., Napa Valley, California
“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, West Virginia
“Back at the end of 2019, my wife and I set a goal to ride 150 trails in 2020, and we were able to reach our goal thanks to lots of short trails around Lancaster and Philadelphia, PA.”
—Joel Kring, Wernersville, PA
“The countless hours spent on the trails have helped propel me through tough times. The awe-inspiring scenery and peacefulness of them provides such a gift!”
—Kasia Martin, Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania
“When the weight of it all is crushing, those moments outside have given us freedom and time to breathe.”
—Brandi Horton, Arlington, VA
“Riding these trails has been so impactful; it has brought me a healthy way to work out the stresses of life—and a peace of mind.”
—Anamaria Spiteri, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
“It’s kind of like another way of therapy for me due to my growing up getting in trouble. I get on that road and feel that wind touch my face ... it makes me happy.”
—Daiquan Medley, Washington, D.C.
“Having that daily mile walk really helps him be happier and healthier.”
—Katie Fullenkamp—on her son’s daily walk to school on the Met Branch Trail, Washington, D.C.
“When Oregon’s stay-at-home order was issued ... I was seven weeks pregnant. For me and many others, it’s been an isolating and anxious six months. To cope, I’ve been walking on ... Oregon’s beautiful trails. It's been essential to my physical and mental wellness.”
—Kayla Walker, Portland, Oregon
“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
“I’m always so thrilled that you have such diversity; birding doesn’t just attract one section of the community or one type of person.”
—Keith Russell, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
“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.