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America’s Trails

Celebrate Trails Day Inspires Trail Users to Be Active

By: Brad Byrne
May 4, 2022

Celebrate Trails Day event in Columbus, Ohio | Photo by Jeffrey A. Tilford
Celebrate Trails Day event in Columbus, Ohio | Photo by Jeffrey A. Tilford

People around the country celebrated the importance of trails in their lives on April 23, 2022. Nearly 200 partner organizations and over 11,500 people from 50 states and the District of Columbia participated in Celebrate Trails Day, our annual celebration of America’s trails.

Special Trail Moments

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Celebrate Trails Day 2022 | Photo by Robin Woods
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Celebrate Trails Day 2022 | Photo by Robin Woods

From riding down Historic Route 66 to encountering black bears or overcoming a mountainous climb, so many great stories came to us from Celebrate Trails Day participants about the special moments they had on the trail—and what trails mean to them.

Chrissy from Crawley, West Virginia, had an interesting encounter with the wildlife in the Mountain State. “We recently biked the Greenbrier River Trail from Droop Mt. Tunnel to Beard,” she said. “We saw three black bears!”

While still relative newcomers to biking, Chrissy and her husband have already seen and felt the benefits of trails. “My husband and I have been biking only for about a year and a half,” she said. “It has really helped our stress levels and helped us get better sleep. We enjoy breathing the fresh air and hearing the river rush past. I think the best thing about trails is that you don’t have to worry about automobiles, and everyone is very friendly.”

Trails can also serve as a way of motivating people to get outside, as is the case with Krystal from New Braunfels, Texas. “I come to the Dry Comal Creek Trail five days a week to run. There are several of us, so we see each other every day, which is nice,” she said. “I love the proximity to my house, which lets me make the most of my run on my lunch break, but also the nature and the escape.”

Elizabeth from Dublin, Ohio, shared her magical trail moment from Easter Sunday. “On Easter, I hiked at Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe. I am trying to visit all the state parks in Ohio and collect the stamps,” she said.

“I read that the trails at Great Seal are very challenging. I randomly picked one and was off. It was beautiful but HARD. When I finally made it to the top, I found a forest full of tiny violets, spring beauties and delicate green leaves everywhere. It felt like I stumbled into a fairy garden. Hiking back down was almost harder! I absolutely loved the park and will definitely be back. I love being outside. I grew up going to national parks and spending evenings and weekends at the Metro Parks in Columbus. Visiting trails feels like home and a vacation all at once!”

Ryan from Winchester, California, shared why hiking Tahquitz Peak via Devil’s Peak in the San Jacinto Mountains is his favorite trail experience. “It was one of the first real hikes I did with my youngest son and a teacher of his,” he said. “He thought he was ready for the hike, but he wasn’t, and [he] nearly gave up several times during the first couple miles. Some gentle encouragement from me and the others in our party helped him get through it and continue the hike. It was a memorable bonding experience from my perspective.”

Some shared how they skipped a car trip and biked or walked to their Celebrate Trails Day event, like Bradley from Springfield, Missouri, who took to one of the most famous routes in America. “I rode to a local downtown trail from home,” he said. “My trail riding was short, but it was a fun downhill and then back out of the streets. Part of my journey was even on the Historic Route 66.”

Events on the Trail

Merchantville, New Jersey, celebration on the Circuit Trails | Courtesy RTC
Merchantville, New Jersey, celebration on the Circuit Trails | Courtesy RTC

We also wanted to share a few highlights from our event partners. These Celebrate Trails Day activities provide motivation and encouragement for people to get outside and be physically active.

Baltimore, Maryland

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A post shared by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails)

Jacksonville, Florida

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A post shared by Ashantae Green (@agreenduval)

Peru, Indiana

Houlton, Wisconsin

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A post shared by Tony Loyd (@anthonyloyd)

The Impact of Celebrate Trails Day

In a survey of Celebrate Trails Day participants by RTC, respondents said they marked the annual observance by bicycling (53%), walking or running (51%), enjoying nature (28%), volunteering (7%) or birding (7%).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 25% of Americans are inactive and that increasing our physical activity is one of the best things we can do for our health. A new finding from the Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends parks, trails and greenways as infrastructure interventions that increase physical activity. These improvements, however, need to be combined with community engagement to increase awareness, expand programs and enhance access. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, Celebrate Trails Day respondents indicated that more than 80% go on trails weekly, and 18% are daily users!

The benefits of physical activity have also been shown in a new study published this April in JAMA Psychiatry, which found that those who regularly exercised half the recommended weekly amount lowered their risk of depression by 18%. The study also found that those who were meeting recommended physical activity levels reduced their risk of depression by 25%.

Among respondents to RTC’s Celebrate Trails Day Survey, 1 in 4 (23%) shared that they typically get 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, meeting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity adults should get each week. And 95 % of participants shared that being on trails helped to reduce their stress levels.

Related: Experts Point to Safe Spaces Away From Busy Streets, Like Trails, As Essential to Inspiring People to Be Active

Supporters and Sponsors

Celebrate Trails Day is supported by “Parks for All” championed by Hydro FlaskAthletic Brewing CompanyCatrikeClif Family Foundation, the CDC’s “Active People, Healthy Nation” initiativeDogfish HeadMirrycle, the Recreate Responsibly CoalitionIZIP and Warm Peet.  

Thank you to everyone for getting outside and sharing your love for America’s trails. We hope you continue your exploration of the country’s 40,000 miles of multiuse trails every day and look forward to seeing you participate in Celebrate Trails Day next year!

P.S. Save the Date for Celebrate Trails Day 2023 on April 22!

Brad Byrne
Brad Byrne

Brad Byrne was a former Rails-to-Trails Conservancy intern. People do amazing things and he reports on them.

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