In Whitefish, Montana, outdoor recreation is the most important reason why residents stay and visitors come to the community. On the Whitefish Trail, 22,000 annual uses by visitors (30% of total use) generates $3.6 million in spending and supports 68 jobs.
In Taos, New Mexico, Hispanic residents and low-income residents are less likely to have used trails during the previous year, but those who have used trails during the previous year use them just as often as other (non-Hispanic) residents. Among low-income residents, those with a park or trail within a 10-minute walk of their house were 50 percent more likely to have used trails during the previous year.
In rural Bonner County in northern Idaho, trails are used by three-quarters of residents an average of every day in the summer and every other day in the winter. Trail use is high for all residents, even accounting for differences in the length of residence in the county, income, and age. Business owners are more likely to identify trails as an important factor in their decision to move to the county.
Non-motorized trail users in Oregon account for 162.3 million user days per year, and the vast majority of these days are spent walking or hiking. While these recreation days are associated with substantial expenditures, the amount spent per person per day and the total economic impact vary greatly within the state.
Combining data from 10 U.K. studies, researchers demonstrated statistically significant improvements in self-esteem and mood after participants exercised outside in a natural setting. Although all cohorts and types of settings experienced improvements, the greatest gains are visible after short duration, light exercise, and among the mentally ill.
This study found that walkers and hikers, while they have fairly low per-trip spending, generate nearly two-thirds of the total economic impact from trails-related recreation in Minnesota because many people participate and they participate often. Motorized recreation – both summer and winter – has the highest individual expenditures per trip.
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.
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.
This study found that even in very rural places, developed trails provide valuable recreation opportunities for residents in addition to attracting new visitors and spending by non-locals. The results also suggest that trails contributed to increased community pride and a modest increase in activity levels, with few problems from crime or vandalism related to the trails.
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.
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 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.
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.