In southeastern Michigan, the Huron River Trail benefits the community through spending at local businesses, higher property values along the river, and recreational enjoyment. The authors also measure benefits from biological diversity, wetland flood reduction, and aesthetic values but these are connected to the river, not just the trail.
Along the coast, the Maine Island Trail connects 183 islands along 375 miles of coastline, attracting 11,385 users per year who bring $553,000 in new spending to the area. This is an excellent example of an economic impact study that carefully identifies new spending that would not have occurred without the trail, as opposed to spending that would happen regardless of the trail’s presence.
This study found that the Slickrock Trail, a world-famous mountain bike trail in Moab, Utah, draws a large number of avid users annually, who are willing to travel long distances and spend large sums to reach it. Because access fees are a relatively low portion of overall trip cost, visitation rates are unlikely to change much even if they are increased.
This study on the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail in Virginia is unique in that it estimates both economic impacts, measured as local spending by tourists, and economic benefits, measured as value to individual users. This paints a more complete picture of the total value of a trail than considering only one of these economic measures, an approach that may be particularly helpful when prioritizing the use of government funds.
This study found that hikers were willing to travel on average over four hours to visit the Grandfather Mountain Wilderness Preserve and its trail system, and did so five times per year. Although this study is old, it is one of the few with values specifically for a day of hiking, particularly in the southern U.S.
This study found that mountain bikers visiting the Moab, Utah trail system spent an average of $282 per trip and visited 2.5 times per year. Rather than a specific trail, as was studied in the Fix and Loomis (1997) Slickrock Trail study, this study evaluated the benefits of the Moab area’s whole mountain bike trail system.
This study found that wilderness trail users are willing to travel farther (and therefore spend more) to reach trails with campgrounds, old-growth forests, and views. Conversely, they avoid trails with long dirt road approaches and clear-cuts visible from the trail.
This study found that surveys that directly extrapolate the number of times an individual person visits a trail to the general population will significantly overstate the future trail use. Care must be taken to account for the differences between those interviewed at the trailhead and the rest of the population.
This study found that crown wildfires that cross trails are likely to have a dramatic effect on use and individual benefit for hikers and mountain bikers that persists for decades after the fire occurs. Prescribed fires are also shown to decrease benefits and use for both groups, but these declines occur gradually over decades rather than an immediate drop in the year of a wildfire.
This study estimates future use on a proposed rail-trail in Georgia, while most trail studies estimate use on an existing trail. It found that the best predictors of future trail use are how close the person lives to the trail, whether they had ridden bicycles in the previous year, and whether they had used a rail trail previously; age and income were not related to predicted use.
This study found that most users of Table Rock State Park in South Carolina are willing to pay a fee to use the hiking trails in addition to the existing park entrance fee. The authors found that users were willing to pay a higher fee when they believed the trails were of higher quality.
This study found that the distance between a user’s home and the trailhead is the most important factor in determining how frequently a trail is used, though proximity alone is not enough if the trail lacks other equestrian-friendly characteristics. To provide the greatest benefit to equestrian users, land managers can look for opportunities to enhance existing trails near population centers with an avid equestrian population.
This study found that rural communities have a high demand for dedicated cycling and pedestrian infrastructure, separate from main roadways, and users are willing to pay small fees to use these trails. These trails are most likely to be used by those living close to small towns and villages, who use the trails for recreation and transportation.
This study found that trail users are willing to incur greater expenses and travel further to use rural trails, and spend more time on those trails while they are there, indicating these trails are enjoyed by both locals and non-locals. Urban trails, on the other hand, are mainly a resource for local residents, and are used much more frequently and for shorter periods of times.
This study found that in Indianapolis property values are higher when homes are located near conservation areas without trails or near high-profile, destination trails, but are not any different when they are located near less-popular trails. Individual trail users place a positive value on being able to use trails, which is sufficiently high to justify the expense of trail construction and maintenance.