Green Issue 2022

Opportunity and Optimism: America’s Trails

Across the United States, communities are recognizing the critical roles trails and greenways can play to energize, revitalize and galvanize people and places. As people embrace trails as catalysts of change—they are embracing visions where opportunity and optimism unite.

Here, in our 2022 all-multimedia Green Issue of Rails to Trails, we take a closer look at the projects and voices from America’s trails that embody the impact this vital infrastructure is having on the nation.



Olympic Discovery Trail: Connecting Opportunity on the Olympic Peninsula

In Washington State, trail builders, public officials and tribal leaders across the Olympic Peninsula are working to create a seamless, 138-mile walking and bicycling route that will connect people and elevate the cultural and geographical treasures of this famed region. In this video, we hear from voices on the ground about the opportunities and impact they seek to realize for their communities through their work on the Olympic Discovery Trail—also a key segment of the developing 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail®.

Produced by Rails to Trails magazine and DS Simon Media.

Featuring Jon Snyder, Office of Gov. Jay Inslee; W. Ron Allen, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe; Andy Stevenson, Peninsula Trails Coalition; Annette Nesse, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe; Lissy Andros, Forks Chamber of Commerce; and Heidi Eisenhour, Jefferson County Commission


A Community Movement: Detroit's Joe Louis Greenway

“They called Detroit the Paris of the West. And a lot of these communities now feel like they’re forgotten neighborhoods. And a lot of people don’t know that history. They don’t know why people stick and stay. We have a reputation in Detroit that we never give up.”
—RuShann Long

Safe places to walk and ride. Connections to schools, parks and transit. A corridor for economic revitalization. These are some of the critical drivers for local leaders and residents in the greater Detroit area—who have come together in a powerful collaboration to re-envision their communities and help create regional connectivity. Learn more about the 27.5-mile developing Joe Louis Greenway.

Produced by Rails to Trails magazine and Johnson Media Consulting.

Featuring RuShann Long, Citizen Advisory Council + Greenway Heritage Conservancy; Ashia Phillips, Citizen Advisory Council + D Town Riders; Todd Scott, Detroit Greenways Coalition; Christina Peltier, City of Detroit; and Brian Charlton, SmithGroup


The Hoosier Way: Trails of Indiana

With nearly 6,000 miles of multiuse trails within its borders, Indiana boasts a wide range of opportunities for active transportation and recreation. “The Hoosier Way: Trails of Indiana” takes viewers on the journey Indiana has taken to go from one of the states with the least number of trails to one of the country’s leaders (with 2021–2022 being formally declared Indiana’s Year of the Trails by Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state legislature), while exploring some of the state’s best rail-trails, nature hikes, urban pathways and other outdoor assets. 

Produced by WTIU and Envisionary Media. Used by permission.

On the Great American Rail-Trail®


Nebraska Stories: Tracks to Trails 

Across northern Nebraska, a former railroad line is being redeveloped into the Cowboy Trail, one of the longest rail-trail conversions in the country and part of the national Great American Rail-Trail®. Learn why this expansive route boasting 200+ trestles and bridges is being embraced by local residents and businesses, and how it’s drawing thousands of visitors each year as a must-see destination in the Cornhusker State. 

Video courtesy Nebraska Public Media’s series, “Nebraska Stories.


Nebraska’s Northern Cheyenne Healing Trail

Near Fort Robinson State Park in Nebraska, a Northern Cheyenne monument serves to honor the 130 Northern Cheyenne men, women and children who made a bold move toward freedom in 1879. Now, their story is being memorialized in a healing trail along the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail® that will honor their legacy. Also, don’t miss Rails to Trails’ recent feature article on the Northern Cheyenne Journey Home.

Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Eric Ian Photo & Film.

Featuring Major Robinson, Redstone Project Development; Eva Foote, Northern Cheyenne Journey Home Committee; Vincent Whitecrane, Northern Cheyenne Journey Home Committee; Gerry Robinson, Author and Northern Cheyenne Historian; Dr. Richard Littlebear, Chief Dull Knife College


TrailLink App by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Banner



What’s Your Trail Motivation?

Through our Trail Moments campaign, more than 2,000 people have shared the importance of trails in their lives and what motivates them to be active outside. For some feel-good inspiration, check out these stories from the trail. And don’t forget to share with us your #TrailMoments—those everyday moments that make your time on the trail meaningful!


Trail Moments

Chelsea Murphy of She Colors Nature

Chelsea is a self-proclaimed 'adventure mom,' who loves getting outdoors and inspiring others to do the same through @she_colorsnature. Check out her story on the TrailBlog to learn about some of Chelsea’s favorite #TrailMoments, including a visit to the Great American Rail-Trail® in Washington State.


Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo courtesy Chelsea Murphy
Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo courtesy Chelsea Murphy
Kansas City's Riverfront Heritage Trail | Photo by Cindy Barks
Kansas City's Riverfront Heritage Trail | Photo by Cindy Barks

Kansas City’s Riverfront Heritage Trail

From the time when more than a dozen Indigenous tribes were active, to Lewis and Clark’s exploration west of the Mississippi River, to the days when freedom seekers found refuge along the Underground Railroad, the stories of Kansas’ history play out today along the Riverfront Heritage Trail.



FY 2021 Impact Report

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

A nation where trails connect everyone, everywhere—that’s our vision.

In FY 2021, we helped secure billions in public funding for trails, raised hundreds of millions of dollars to connect trails, worked with partners in regional efforts to accelerate thousands of miles of trail networks across the country, engaged millions of Americans in using and loving their trails, and continued our quest to connect the nation by trail. Learn how we are shaping a brighter future for America and its communities made possible by trails.


California's Mission Bay Bike Path | Photo by Laura Stark
California's Mission Bay Bike Path | Photo by Laura Stark

California Guidebook Sneak Peek

A new edition of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s “Rail-Trails: California” guidebook is underway, highlighting dozens of the state’s top rail-trails and other multiuse pathways. Enjoy a sneak peek at the famed beaches, redwood forests, rugged canyons and vibrant cities that you’ll find within the guidebook’s pages—and stay tuned for its release in spring 2023. 



Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program

This new program—authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law at $200 million annually and subject to appropriations—establishes competitive connectivity grants that strategically invest in projects that connect active-transportation networks, accelerating local and regional plans to create safe routes to everyday destinations. Right now, we’re working with Congress to get funding for this innovative new program in the next budget bill—and you can help.



Trail Networks and Housing Stability Webinar Series

In this three-part Trail Networks and Housing Stability webinar series (released in May and June 2022), RTC convened experts from the fields of housing and community development to discuss the impact of trail networks on housing markets, as well as best practices to promote and preserve affordable housing. Moderated by RTC President Ryan Chao, the series focuses on understanding original research and approaches that can be implemented proactively, in partnership and with intention, to promote housing stability and address gentrification concerns.


Community Connections

Pennsylvania's Schuylkill River Trail | Photo by Thom Carroll Photography
Pennsylvania's Schuylkill River Trail | Photo by Thom Carroll Photography

In Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, Minnesota and Washington State, trails and trail networks are connecting communities like never before. Learn how trail advocates, residents and local leaders in these states are creating new, safe off-road connections to green space, cultural hotspots and commerce centers in their regions.


Rail-Trail Report

Indiana's Cardinal Greenway | Photo by Angie Pool, Courtesy Cardinal Greenways Inc.
Indiana's Cardinal Greenway | Photo by Angie Pool, Courtesy Cardinal Greenways Inc.

RTC has had a national impact at a scale like few other nonprofit organizations. We serve as the sector’s leader in advocacy, trail development, communications and movement building—supporting America’s communities in the creation of 40,000 miles of multiuse trails to date, including 25,000+ miles of rail-trails. View some recent highlights.


Rails to Trails Magazine

Explore America's remarkable trails and trail networks and learn about their impacts on communities across the nation with your year-long subscription to Rails to Trails magazine—a benefit of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy membership. As a member, you'll also support the pathways you love and create a nation connected by trails.


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Green Issue Staff

Vice President of Communications: Brandi Horton
Editor-in-Chief: Amy Kapp
Digital Content Editor: Laura Stark
Video Production: Anthony Le
Graphics/Web Design: Anthony Le
Distribution: Ryan Cree, Suzanne Matyas, Noor Hannosh

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Rails to Trails magazine is dedicated to exploring America’s remarkable rail-trails and trail-networks, with a focus on the opportunities they provide and the impact they have in communities nationwide.