Jackson Hole Pathways and Trails Survey

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Place: Teton County

Overview

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a random, statistically representative survey gathered information about residents’ opinions of pathways and trails, including levels and types of use, satisfaction, strengths and weaknesses, and the role the trail system plays in quality of life. The survey found that 91 percent of residents had used the trail system in the previous 12 months and the trail system functions well for recreation, but could use improvements to serve transportation needs.

Relevance

The findings from this survey are likely specific to this community and its particular needs and culture, but other resort communities with an active population and high proportion of public land may have similar results. However, the questions asked would be useful for any community interested in better understanding how well its trails meet resident needs and investment priorities, and how trails contribute to quality of life.

Location

The survey was conducted in Teton County, Wyoming, home of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and the Town of Jackson. The population of Teton County was 22,930 in 2014.

Trail Type

This study considered all trails and pathways in the county, including in-town biking and walking paths, bike lanes, defined as pathways; and front-country and backcountry trails. The study asked separate question about pathway and trail use.

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to better understand county residents’ opinions about how the area’s pathway and trail system is used and how it can be improved to help inform planning efforts.

This study was commissioned by Teton County, Wyoming; Friends of Pathways; Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce; and the Town of Jackson, Wyoming. Headwaters Economics and RRC Associates conducted the work.

Findings

  • Nine out of 10 respondents use pathways and trails in the Jackson area.
  • Respondents use area pathways and trails every other day in the summer and every three days in the winter.
  • For both pathways and trails, bicycling and walking are the most common summertime activities. In the winter time, walking and skiing are the most popular activities.
  • Pathways are used for a mix of recreation, transportation, and family trips. However, trails are largely used for recreation, followed distantly by walking dogs.
  • Respondents are highly satisfied with summer and winter maintenance and how well the system functions for recreational use.
  • Over half of respondents identified a need for more loop trails and separation of dog-walking, biking, hiking, and horses on trails as important priorities for trail improvements.
  • One-third of respondents identified improving “the network of pathways to get me where I want to go” as one of the top three factors that would encourage them to walk or ride their bike more frequently.
  • The next most common factors that would increase bike use were living closer to work, more on-street bike lanes, and better integration with bikes and the bus system.
  • The top five factors identified in residents’ decision to move to or stay in Teton County were:
    • Outdoor recreation (96% stated it is important)
    • Access to public land (91% stated it is important)
    • Community character (89% stated it is important)
    • Amount of open space (85% stated it is important)
    • Safe and secure community (85% stated it is important)
  • Respondents were most in favor of investing in new pathways and trails and completing missing links, followed by maintaining existing trails and pathways. These were the most commonly prioritized investments across all respondents, from those who never use them, to occasional users, to frequent users.

Methods

The study collected data via surveys mailed to a random sample of 2,500 Teton County, Wyoming residents. The mail survey also contained a web version of the survey for those who preferred to complete it online. An open web link was also made available to those who were not part of the sample but wanted to take the survey. The open link data were weighted by age, gender, and their level of pathway use to match the distribution of the random sample data. This allowed the researchers to combine the two samples and allow for more in-depth analysis of different cross-sections of the data.

The final sample size was 389 from the random invitation survey and 790 from the open web link survey.

Citation

RRC Associates. 2015. Jackson Hole Pathways and Trails Survey. Prepared for Teton County, WY; Friends of Pathways; Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce; Town of Jackson, WY; Headwaters Economics. Boulder, CO: RRC Associates.