Trails Benefits Library

This Trails Benefits Library is a collection of studies on the positive impacts of trails on businesses, public health, and quality of life. Use this form to search by type of benefit, use, year, and region.

Find trails studies by:

Benefit

Use

Year

Region

Studies found (34) for South:

Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Northwest Arkansas

→Summary & Interpretation

Uses studied: ,
Overview: In northwest Arkansas, a substantial investment in paved and unpaved trails has contributed substantially to the region’s well-being (measured in improved health) and economic performance (measured in visitor spending and employee retention). Evidenced by residents’ interest in living close to trails and willingness to pay more for homes near trails, cycling is an essential part of life in this region.
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Place:

Communities of Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, and Springdale

Citation:

BBC Research and Consulting. 2018. Economic and Health Benefits of Bicycling in Northwest Arkansas. Prepared for The Walton Family Foundation and PeopleForBikes. Denver, CO: BBC Research and Consulting.

Impact of a Park-Based Afterschool Program Replicated Over Five Years on Modifiable Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: A daily afterschool program in Miami-Dade County, Florida observes significant decreases in body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure between the beginning and end of the school year. Findings from this research suggest consistent, long-term afterschool programs can effectively reduce childhood obesity and cardiovascular disease risk.
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Place: Miami-Dade County
Citation: Messiah, S.E., Vidot, D., Hansen, E., Kardys, J., Matthew, M.S., Nardi, M. and Arheart, K.L., 2017. Impact of a park-based afterschool program replicated over five years on modifiable cardiovascular disease risk factors. Preventive Medicine 95: 66-73.

Spearhead Trails Economic and Fiscal Impacts

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: An extensive motorized trail system in rural southwest Virginia has brought substantial new spending to the community, helping to diversify the area’s traditionally coal-based economy. The estimated economic impact is less than the predicted impacts before the system was built, but the impacts nonetheless exceed state and local investments.
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States:
Place: Buchanan County, Dickenson County, Lee County, Russell County, Scott County, and Tazewel County
Citation: Institute for Service Research. 2017. Economic and Fiscal Impacts. Coeburn, VA: Spearhead Trails.

Association Between User-Generated Commuting Data and Population-Representative Active Commuting Surveillance Data—Four Cities, 2014-2015

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: One of the primary concerns about data from GPS tracking apps is that the users tend to be more frequent recreators or commuters and therefore do not accurately represent the actual population. This paper shows that there is a strong correlation between the reported share of people in a neighborhood commuting by active transportation between the American Community Survey (a nationally representative survey) and Strava (a GPS tracking app).
Region: ,
Place: Austin, Texas; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; and San Francisco, California
Citation: Whitfield, G.P. 2016. Association Between User-Generated Commuting Data and Population-Representative Active Commuting Surveillance Data—Four Cities, 2014–2015. CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 65(36): 959-962.

Behavioral Effects of Completing a Critical Link in the American Tobacco Trail

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: In Durham, North Carolina, a bicycle-pedestrian bridge was built to connect two previously separate segments of a regional trail, leading to a 133 percent increase in trail use after its construction. This new connection allows the researchers to demonstrate a substantial increase in physical activity attributable to the bridge, with significant public health benefits for trail users.
Region:
Place: Durham
Citation: Cook, T., S. O’Brien, K. Jackson, D. Findley, and S. Searcy. 2016. “Behavioral effects of completing a critical link in the American Tobacco Trail.” Transportation Research Record 2598: 19–26.

Reducing Childhood Obesity Through Coordinated Care: Development of a Park Prescription Program

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: In Miami-Dade County, Florida, researchers evaluated the structure of a pilot project connecting children, families, and their pediatricians to a park-based afterschool program. This study describes important factors encouraging ongoing support from participating families and pediatricians, as well as ways to measure the effectiveness of prescription parks programs.
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Place: Miami-Dade County
Citation: Messiah, S.E., Jiang, S., Kardys, J., Hansen, E., Nardi, M. and Forster, L., 2016. Reducing childhood obesity through coordinated care: Development of a park prescription program. World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics 5(3): 234.

Park-Based Afterschool Program to Improve Cardiovascular Health and Physical Fitness in Children with Disabilities

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: In Miami-Dade County, Florida, an afterschool, park-based program is effective in improving physical fitness among a sample of 52 children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Afterschool programs may be an effective strategy to increase physical activity among disabled children, who tend to be less physically active than their non-disabled peers.
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Place: Miami-Dade County
Citation: Haney, K., Messiah, S.E., Arheart, K.L., Hanson, E., Diego, A., Kardys, J., Kirwin, K., Nottage, R., Ramirez, S., Somarriba, G. and Binhack, L., 2014. Park-based afterschool program to improve cardiovascular health and physical fitness in children with disabilities. Disability and Health Journal 7(3): 335-342.

Rider Preferences and Economic Values for Equestrian Trails

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: This study found that equestrian trail users strongly prefer to visit trails specific to horses and are willing to pay a user fee to access them, but this preference is less pronounced for more experienced riders. Riders are also willing to pay more to ride on longer trails and on trails with scenic views.
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Place: Statewide
Citation: Hu, W., P. Qing, J. Penn, M. Pelton, and A. Pagoulatos. 2014. “Rider preferences and economic values for equestrian trails.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management ahead-of-print (2014): 1-19.

Economic Impact of the 2012 “6 Hours of Warrior Creek” Mountain Bike Race

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: Two factors most strongly predicted racers’ total spending at an endurance mountain bike race in North Carolina: whether they visited other tourist attractions during their trip and how many nights they stayed. Having more people in the racer’s party was also associated with higher total spending, while income had almost no effect on spending.
Region:
Place: Boomer
Citation: Schiller, A., and J. Whitehead. 2013. Economic Impact of the 2012 ‘6 Hours of Warrior Creek’ Mountain Bike Race. Boone, NC: Center for Economic Research and Policy Analysis at Appalachian State University.

Silver Comet Trail Economic Impact Analysis and Planning Study

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: West of Atlanta, Georgia, the Silver Comet Trail plans to double its 61 miles. This is expected to bring more than 500,000 new tourist visits and $30 million in new spending to the area, while also generating substantial new tax revenues for the state through taxes on sales, income, and newly developed residential properties near the trail.
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Place: Cobb, Paulding, and Polk Counties
Citation: Alta/Greenways. 2013. Silver Comet Trail Economic Impact Analysis and Planning Study. Rome, GA:  Northwest Georgia Regional Planning Commission.

An Economic and Impact Analysis of the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: This survey found that avid mountain bikers are projected to have high daily spending and use the trails frequently on the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail in Alabama. The new trail system is likely to be popular with locals and attract some outside spending that could have significant effects on retail and hospitality businesses that cater to this group.
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Place: Anniston, Oxford
Citation: Boozer, B. 2012. An Economic and Impact Analysis of the Coldwater Mountain Bike Trail. Jacksonville State University, Center for Economic Development; Calhoun County Community Development Corporation.

Assessing the Cost Effectiveness of a Community Rail-Trail in Achieving Physical Activity Gains

→Summary & Interpretation

Year:
Uses studied: ,
Overview: This study found that a community rail-trail in West Virginia encourages new physical activity among inactive residents and greater physical activity for those who were already active, and that for many community members trail use is their only form of exercise. Trail cost per newly active resident is on the lower end of health interventions aimed at encouraging sedentary individuals to become active, and is likely to reach more people that other common interventions.
Region:
Place: Morgantown
Citation: Abildso, C., S. Zizzi, S. Selin, and P. Gordon. 2012. “Assessing the cost effectiveness of a community rail-trail in achieving physical activity gains.” Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 30(2): 102-113.

Spearhead Trails Implementation Plan, Vol. II Economic Impact Assessment

→Summary & Interpretation

Year:
Overview: This study assesses the potential impact of a region-wide trail destination for multiple user groups on private, primarily corporate-owned land in southwest Virginia. It found that developing a destination-quality trail system requires region-wide coordination, both in trail construction and linking, as well as in providing supporting infrastructure for tourists and marketing to potential visitors outside the region.
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Place: Buchanan County, Dickenson County, Lee County, Russell County, Scott County, Tazewel County
Citation: Sustainable Development Consulting International. 2012. Spearhead Trails Implementation Plan, Vol. II: Economic Impact Assessment. Southwest Virginia Regional Recreation Authority.

Economic Impact Analysis of Orange County Trails

→Summary & Interpretation

Year:
Uses studied: , ,
Overview: This study found that development of a trail and associated infrastructure has contributed to the revitalization of downtown Winter Garden, Florida. In this county-wide trail system, the trails with the most access points to businesses had the greatest measurable economic impact, but the complement of trails throughout Orange County–some urban and others natural and quiet–contribute to an appealing regional trail system.
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Place: Orange County
Citation: East Central Florida Regional Planning Council. 2011. Economic Impact Analysis of Orange County Trails.

Determining Economic Benefits of Park Trails: Management Implications

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: 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.
Region:
Place: Table Rock State Park
Citation: Oh, C. and W. Hammitt. 2010. “Determining economic benefits of park trails: Management implications.” Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 28(2): 94-107.

Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Economic Impact Study (2007-2008)

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: This study found that many businesses near the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) have experienced increased revenue due to their proximity to the trail, and expect to expand operations to meet demand. The greatest economic impact comes from overnight trail users, who spend seven times as much as day users.
Region: ,
Place: Cumberland (MD), McKeesport (PA)
Citation: Campos, Inc. 2009. The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) Economic Impact Study (2007-08). The Progress Fund.

Recreational Demand for Equestrian Trail-Riding

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: 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.
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Place: Statewide
Citation: Blackwell, M., A. Pagoulatos, W. Hu, and K. Auchter. 2009. “Recreational demand for equestrian trail-riding.” Agricultural and Resource Economics Review 38(2): 229-239.

The Relative Impacts of Trails and Greenbelts on Home Price

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: , ,
Overview: This study found that trails and greenbelts in a San Antonio, Texas neighborhood are associated with higher home values, particularly if the trails are incorporated into a greenbelt. This effect is not just for homes immediately adjacent to the trail, but for all homes in the neighborhood.
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Place: San Antonio
Citation: Asabere, P. and F. Huffman. 2009. “The relative impacts of trails and greenbelts on home price.” The Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics 38(4): 408-419.

Estimating the Economic Value and Impacts of Recreational Trails: A Case Study of the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: 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.
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Place: Abingdon, Whitetop Station
Citation: Bowker, J. M., J.C. Bergstrom, J. Gill, 2007. “Estimating the economic value and impacts of recreational trails: a case study of the Virginia Creeper Rail Trail.” Tourism Economics. 13(2): 241-260.

Property Value/Desirability Effects of Bike Paths Adjacent to Residential Areas

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: This study found that homes within 50 meters of bike paths in New Castle County, Delaware sold, on average, for 4 percent more than similar homes without bike paths. These results are consistent with other studies that have demonstrated a higher value for homes adjacent to trails.
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Place: New Castle County
Citation: Racca, D. and A. Dhanju. 2006. Property Value/Desirability Effects of Bike Paths Adjacent to Residential Areas. University of Delaware, Delaware Center for Transportation Working Paper 188.

Evaluating Change in Physical Activity with the Building of a Multi-Use Trail

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: This study found that people who used a new rail trail in Durham, North Carolina reported exercising more during the month after it opened, although it did not appear that their minutes spent exercising per week was actually any higher than before the trail opened. Potential effects of new trails on physical activity may take longer to manifest themselves in residents’ habits, and the effects likely depend on how many trails are already nearby.
Region:
Place: Durham
Citation: Evenson, K., A. Herring, and S. Huston. 2005. “Evaluating change in physical activity with the building of a multi-use trail.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 28(2): 177-185.

The Impact of Greenways on Property Values: Evidence from Austin, Texas; An Assessment of Tax Revenues Generated by Homes Proximate to a Greenway

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: The study found that neighborhoods with access to and views of the trail command higher property values, and that these higher property values generate additional tax revenue for municipal and county governments. Trails may not pay for themselves based solely on higher property tax revenue, but the likely additional revenue would offset some of the expense.
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States:
Place: Austin
Citation: Crompton, J., and S. Nicholls. 2006. “An Assessment of Tax Revenues Generated by Homes Proximate to a Greenway.” Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 24(3): 103-108. Nicholls, S., and J. Crompton. 2005. “The Impact of Greenways on Property Values: Evidence from Austin, Texas.” Journal of Leisure Research 37(3): 321-341.

A Community-Based Approach to Promoting Walking in Rural Areas

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: This study found that in southeastern Missouri, public health interventions to increase residents’ trail use, such as newsletters and fun walks, had no statistically-observable effect on residents’ walking habits or physical activity. A third of those who use the trail report increased overall physical activity levels since they began using the trail, suggesting while that trails can increase community physical activity, a primary challenge is getting residents to begin using them.
Region: ,
Place: Multi-State
Citation: Brownson, R., E. Baker, R. Boyd, N. Caito, K. Duggan, R. Housemann, M. Kreuter, T. Mitchell, F. Motton, C. Pulley, T. Schmid, and D. Walton. 2004. “A community-based approach to promoting walking in rural areas.” American Journal of Preventive Medicine 27(1): 28-34.

Pathways to Prosperity; Economic Impact of Investment in Bicycle Facilities: A Case Study of North Carolina Northern Outer Banks

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: This study found that each year, the economic impact from cyclists on the Outer Banks far exceeds the original investment of public funds used to build bicycle-friendly facilities. The majority of visitors were likely to extend their stay and return to the area because of the availability of bicycle facilities.
Region:
Place: Outer Banks
Citation: Lawrie, J. 2004. Pathways to Prosperity; Economic Impacts of Investment in Bicycle Facilities: A Case Study of North Carolina Northern Outer Banks. North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The Washington & Old Dominion Trail: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: This study found that the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail generates significant local economic impact, even though it is primarily used by locals. Using a creative set of questions, the authors identify which trail features are sufficient and which should be higher priorities for funding.
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Place: Washington, DC, outlying rural areas
Citation: Bowker, J., Bergstrom, J., Gill, J., and Lemanski, U. 2004. The Washington & Old Dominion Trail: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics.  USDA Forest Service, University of Georgia and National Park Service.

The Waterway at New River State Park: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: This study found that the water trail along the New River Trail in western Virginia is used frequently by locals and non-locals, and is a relatively large source of revenue for local businesses. The trail and communities near the trail currently provide the amenities that trail users find most important, although there may be unmet demand for outdoor stores and restaurants, which could increase the trail’s economic impact.
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States:
Place: Pulaski, Galax
Citation: Bowker, J., J. Bergstrom, and J. Gill. 2004. The Waterway at New River State Park: An Assessment of User Demographics, Preferences, and Economics. Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Use of a Community Trail among New and Habitual Exercisers: A Preliminary Assessment

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: This study found that in Morgantown, West Virginia, one-quarter of trail users had not been active before the trail was built, and who report large increases in physical activity since they began using the trail. For most of these newly-active residents, the trail was the only place where they exercised and they report the trail’s safety, paved and flat terrain, and convenience as the most important considerations in deciding to use the trail.
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Place: Morgantown
Citation: Gordon P., S. Zizzi, and J. Pauline. 2004. “Use of a community trail among new and habitual exercisers: a preliminary assessment.” Preventing Chronic Disease 1(4): 1-11.

A Contingent Trip Model for Estimating Rail-Trail Demand

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: 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.
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States:
Place: Madison, Watkinsville
Citation: Betz, C., J. Bergstrom, and J.M. Bowker. 2003. “A contingent trip model for estimating rail-trail demand.” Journal of Environmental Planning and Management 46(1): 79-96.

Coastal Georgia Greenway Market Study and Projected Economic Impact

→Summary & Interpretation

Year:
Uses studied: ,
Overview: This study found that the Coastal Georgia Greenway has the potential to generate substantial economic impact along its route. Using findings from studies on a range of existing rail-trail projects, the study projects use and economic impact for the year the trail is constructed as well as five years later, after more people learn about the trail.
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States:
Place: Savannah, St. Marys
Citation: Toma, M., J. Hoag, and R. Griffin. 2003. Coastal Georgia Greenway Market Study and Projected Economic Impact. Armstrong Atlantic State University Center for Regional Analysis.

Case Studies of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities

→Summary & Interpretation

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Overview: This study found that across three communities in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Carolina, water trails have created a destination for non-local paddlers interested in multi-day trips. Communities are able to capture this economic opportunity only if businesses are immediately on the water or easily accessed via trail or shuttle, and if there are businesses that cater to paddlers, such as restaurants, lodging and camping, and shuttle and rental services.
Region: ,
Place: Lake County (MN), Vernon County (WI), Martin County (NC)
Citation: Johnson, L. 2002. Case Studies of Water Trail Impacts on Rural Communities (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). University of Oregon.

The economic impacts and uses of long-distance trails

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: Although visitor spending per day along the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail in western Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina is relatively low, the large number of visitors generates substantial economic impact. However, much of this spending is likely due to the attraction of specific historic sites and not the trail, because relatively few visitors were aware that the historic sites are connected to a larger regional trail.
Region:
Place: North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia
Citation: Moore, R. L., and K. Barthlow. 1998. The economic impacts and uses of long-distance trails. Prepared for U.S. Department of Interior National Park Service. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management.

Outdoor Recreation Net Benefits of Rail-Trails

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: 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.
Region: , ,
Place: Dubuque County (IA), Tallahassee (FL), Oakland (CA)
Citation: Siderelis, C. and R. Moore. 1995. “Outdoor recreation net benefits of rail-trails.” Journal of Leisure Research 27(4): 344-359.

The Economic Value of Hiking: Further Considerations of Opportunity Cost of Time in Recreational Demand Models

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied:
Overview: 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.
Region:
Place: Linville
Citation: Casey, J., T. Vukina, and L. Danielson. 1995. “The Economic Value of Hiking: Further Considerations of Opportunity Cost of Time in Recreational Demand Models.” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics 27(2): 658-668.

Analysis of Economic Impacts of the Northern Central Rail Trail

→Summary & Interpretation

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Uses studied: ,
Overview: This study found that the North Central Rail Trail is used heavily by residents who lack safe walking and cycling alternatives on local roadways; trail use grew 42 percent per year during the first decade it was open. Both residents and nearby property owners overwhelmingly found the trail a good investment of public funds and would support state-funded trails built elsewhere in the state.
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States:
Place: Ashland
Citation: PKF Consulting. 1994. Analysis of Economic Impacts of the Northern Central Rail Trail. Annapolis, MD: Maryland Greenways Commission and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.