Economic Impact and Demographics of Recreational Horse Trail Users in Minnesota

Benefits studied: ,
Uses studied:
Place: Statewide


This study found that the average respondent rides on Minnnesota’s state-maintained horse trail system 33 days per year. Three-quarters of all trips are taken within 30 minutes of home, suggesting that the primary benefits from horse trails in Minnesota are in the enjoyment people derive from using trails close to home rather than in attracting non-local visitors.


This study would be of use to states and communities interested in general estimates of equestrian trail use and associated expenditures. Although trail users collectively spend a substantial amount of money during trail outings, this spending generates economic benefits only if it is spending that would not have occurred if the trails were not there. While some trail users are from out-of-state and thus bring new spending into the state, this only accounts for 14 percent of all spending in the study.


This was a statewide study in Minnesota.

Trail Type

The study was focused on the 1,000 miles of horse trails managed by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.


The purpose of this study was to create an economic and demographic profile of recreational horse trail users in Minnesota and estimate their economic impact in the state. The study was conducted by agency researchers.


  • On average, respondents rode 23.5 days per year within 30 minutes of their home.
  • Local trips accounted for 72 percent of total horseback trips.
  • Respondents spent $27 per day during local trips and $43 per day on non-local trips.
  • Minnesota residents spent $43 million annually and out-of-state visitors spent $6.9 million annually during trail outings. These expenditures supported 359 jobs with $16.9 million in labor earnings. These impacts are likely important in communities that draw trail users from outside the area.


The authors sent mail surveys to a random sample of 804 Minnesota residents who purchased a state horse trail pass. Of the 789 surveys with correct addresses, 60 percent were returned. Respondents were asked about their experience using trails, trips and expenditures on those trips, and demographics. The authors combined this with data on park attendance and from an exit survey of Minnesota state park visitors to determine average spending on common items. Spending and visitation estimates were used as input into an IMPLAN regional economic model to estimate the economic impact of visitor spending.


Schneider, I., A. Date, E. Venegas, and K. Martinson. 2011. “Economic Impact and Demographics of Recreational Horse Trail Users in Minnesota.” Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 31(5): 333-334.