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Trail Promotion

America’s Trail Networks are Essential

By: Rails-to-Trails-Conservancy FACT SHEET
December 12, 2023

America’s Trail Networks are EssentialDownload

Across the country, trail networks are delivering transformative benefits in hundreds of communities. That’s because as the nation’s 40,000+ miles of trails are connected, their impact grows exponentially. With increased connectivity, the use of trail systems increases by as much as 80%i and the economic, health, climate and transportation benefits they deliver are maximized.ii

The Status of America’s Trail Networks:

150 trail networks are documented nationwide, including networks in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. At least half of people in the U.S. (49.75%) live in a county that is home to a developing trail network. Of the counties where trail networks are being developed, 74% are majority suburban/urban and 26% are majority rural populations.

Growing Demand for Connecting America’s Trail Networks 

Across the country, federal funding to support the development of trails, walking and biking infrastructure is at an all-time high.iv That funding, paired with the demand from people and places for more safe, convenient ways to walk, bike and be active outside, has created a perfect storm for advancing the connectivity of the country’s trails and active transportation infrastructure.

A recent national opinion poll demonstrates strong public support for trails and trail networks.

People say that connectivity and active transportation infrastructure would help them walk and bike more where they live. Top five factors include:

  1. More destinations within a 10-to-20-minute walking distance (37%)
  2. More friends or family to walk or bike with (34%) 
  3. Trails and greenways separated and protected from traffic (30%)
  4. More sidewalks (30%)4
  5. Protected bike lanes (29%) 

View infographic for more information.

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Everyone deserves access to safe ways to walk, bike, and be active outdoors.