Trails Research and Searchable Benefits Library

Headwaters Economics compiled 120 studies on the impacts of trails in a single library, searchable by type of benefit, use, year, and region.

  • The trails research and searchable benefits Library shows how trails can generate business impacts and create new jobs by attracting visitors, especially overnight visitors.
  • Local trail users often use community trails multiple times per week, and trails are a valuable part of residents’ quality of life.
  • Trails are often associated with higher property value, especially when a trail is designed to provide neighborhood access and maintain residents’ privacy.
  • Trails are associated with increased physical activity and improved public health, especially in rural places without other safe places to exercise.
  • Private land owners, public land managers, land trusts, trail advocates, and others must be aware of the legal responsibilities associated with developing and maintaining trails.

trail though forest with wildflowers
The above four main themes on how trails benefit communities emerge from this collection of detailed research across the United States.

To help community leaders, elected officials, trail users, and others better understand the benefits of trails, Headwaters Economics compiled 120 studies on the impacts of trails in a single library, searchable by type of benefit, use, year, and region.

Trails can bring a wide range of benefits to communities, including increased business, higher property values, improved public health, and legal concerns. These and other potential benefits from trails can help to justify investment in a trail project and determine whether a project meets community priorities.

The studies selected and summarized for the trails library include high-quality research from across the U.S., mostly in smaller cities and rural areas. The library includes some of the earliest research on trails as well as the most recent. It also provides a detailed explanation of the types of benefits and methods used to calculate them.