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Using Trails

Celebrate Trails Day 2023: Showcasing the Impact of America’s Trails

By: Suzanne Matyas
May 4, 2023

Celebrate Trails Day 2023 in Columbus, OH | Photo courtesy RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 in Columbus, OH | Photo courtesy RTC

Since 2013, we’ve teamed up with our partners to encourage everyone to get outside every spring for a special single-day celebration on the trail.

Celebrate Trails Day takes place on the fourth Saturday of April, and although it looks and feels different around the country each year, it provides an opportunity for people to come together to showcase the impact of trails in their lives, and build support for trails in new and meaningful ways. Whether the day has brought falling snow, shining sun, blooming flowers, squelchy mud—or surprises us with a medley of all of the above—the celebration reflects the truth that spending time on the trail any day can make it a great day. And since Celebrate Trails Day fell on Earth Day this year, experiencing nature (and its range of springtime conditions) on the trail made the celebration even more meaningful.

Celebrate Trails Day 2023 Infographic by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic: activity type by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic: stress reduction by RTC
Celebrate Trails Day 2023 infographic: active minutes by RTC

First, because trails are awesome! They provide spaces to play, get around, enjoy nature and be active all while helping to benefit the economy, environment, health and wellness of a community, and beyond—and we think that’s something worth celebrating.

We plan this big celebration of America’s trails for two major reasons:

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

Second, because we want everyone to fall in love with trails (or if that’s too soon, at least become acquainted with them). Trails are for everyone of all ages, backgrounds and abilities, so Celebrate Trails Day is designed for you to connect with trails your way, whether you want to take your relationship for a slow roll, a speed walk, or you need some space (outdoors). And the more the merrier! When more people use these spaces, it sends a clear message that they’re valued and worth maintaining and investing in further, which can result in the expansion and enhancement of America’s trails and active transportation networks.

Act Now: Sign our petition in support of critical investments in trail and active transportation networks.

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A post shared by Union County Connects (@unioncountyconnects)

Over its 10 years, this celebration has been powerful—and 2023 was no exception! Our many thanks to the at least 13,000 people who participated, our more than 220 partners and this year’s supporting organizations who made Celebrate Trails Day so special this year.

Celebrate Trails Day 2023 underscored the impact trails can have on people, places and the planet, but it also provided a chance for people to make a difference.

In 50 states around the country and Washington, D.C., more than 120 events were planned on or along trails. Many of these events also highlighted Earth Day and involved local stewardship opportunities, such as volunteer cleanups, tree plantings and learning about local wildlife.

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A post shared by Latino Outdoors SF Bay Area (@losanfranciscobayarea)

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A post shared by Cedar Valley Trails (@cedarvalleytrails)

Beyond helping to beautify and appreciate biodiversity along trails, the celebration inspired rides, runs, walks and festivals that included a combination of these activities and more! This type of community programming can be key to encouraging more people to use trails more often, which can lead to transformative changes.

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

For example, swapping in more trips by trail can reduce the number of trips taken by car, lowering transportation-related carbon emissions and otherwise benefiting the environment. This year, 67% of participants reported opting to skip taking a car in favor of walking, biking or rolling on Celebrate Trails Day and/or at other times. Currently, more than half of all trips in the United States are within a 20-minute bike ride, and a quarter are within a 20-minute walk. If people continue to regularly choose to go by trail instead of car for shorter trips, then the positive effects will really stack up!

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A post shared by Friends of Herring Run Parks (@friendsofherringrunparks)

In addition, more time on trails can result in increased rates of physical activity, which can help lower the risk of chronic diseases while improving wellness. On average, people who participated in Celebrate Trails Day this year spent 96 minutes outside on the trail, walking, biking and being physically active. If continued, this type of change can help people feel better in the short run and the long run. Having free and low-cost spaces like trails that allow people to regularly exercise and be physically active can result in lower healthcare costs; plus, according to Ken Rose, chief for U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s physical activity and health branch, “for every dollar that we invest in a trail, we see a return on investment of $3 in economic benefits for your community.”

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

Celebrate Trails Day 2023 was incredible and memorable. We appreciate everyone who chose to get outside and celebrate the trails in their communities—these moments make a difference and collectively have a big impact for trails nationwide. We hope you keep using the trails all year long, and that you save the date for Celebrate Trails Day 2024 on Saturday, April 27!

A special thank you to our 2023 Celebrate Trails Day sponsors and supporters:

Premier sponsor Athletic Brewing; EARTHDAY.ORGREI Co-opHydro Flask and the Parks for All program; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Active People, Healthy Nation initiative; Warm PeetCatrikeMirrycle; the William G. Pomeroy FoundationSports BackersPure CyclesNemo EquipmentLatino Outdoors; the Patagonia stores in Alexandria, Virginia and Washington, D.C.Primal Wear; Slime; and the National Cycling League

Suzanne Matyas | Photo courtesy Suzanne Matyas
Suzanne Matyas

Suzanne Matyas is RTC’s social media and engagement strategist. She is an inline skating and skiing enthusiast, and a mediocre runner, and loves corny jokes.

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