The Trail Forward: A Message From RTC President on COVID-19

Posted 03/16/20 by Ryan Chao in America's Trails

Mass Central Rail Trail | Photo by Milo Bateman

As I write this note, I hope it finds all of you well and safely navigating the rapidly evolving COVID-19 public health situation.  

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, we are taking it very seriously. We care about our staff, our partners, and all of you—the trail users we serve every day. While much about COVID-19 is still unknown, one message has been quite clear: Social distancing is the primary way to prevent the spread of the virus. It is our responsibility as global citizens and as leaders in our field to do our part to "flatten the curve" and slow the spread of the pandemic. 

For this reason, our staff has moved to 100% telework and postponed non-essential travel and in-person events. In this spirit, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone all in-person April 18th Opening Day for Trails events.

As we all do our best to keep our communities healthy and safe, the trails movement will have an important role to play. Depending on current public health guidance, trails may increasingly be counted on as places where people can continue to be physically active and find respite while practicing social distancing. In some places, trails may become primary transportation routes, and walking and biking the most appropriate way to travel. We will seek out and share any authoritative public health guidance about ways people can get outside and maintain their physical and mental health while still following best practices on protection and safety.

As the situation is changing quickly from community to community, before visiting the trail, we recommend that you take precautions by:

  • Following the CDC’s most current public health and safety guidance:
  • Referring to the guidance provided by your local/state government for more specific information about your community.
  • Checking with the local trail management organization to confirm the status of trail facilities.  That contact information is available when accessing individual trail records at

While our physical offices may be temporarily closed, our mission to create a nationwide network of trails and build healthier places for healthier people will advance unabated. Trails are powerful assets in building a nation that is resilient and an essential resource as we navigate the path forward.

Trails have a restorative power and will be vital to our nation’s and our people’s persistence and recovery. We will get through this together, and trails will help heal us.

How are you using your trails for physical activity and wellness during this time of social distancing? Let us know in the comments below.

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