In southeastern Michigan, the Huron River Trail benefits the community through spending at local businesses, higher property values along the river, and recreational enjoyment. The authors also measure benefits from biological diversity, wetland flood reduction, and aesthetic values but these are connected to the river, not just the trail.
Across New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire, and Maine, the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) draws 90,000 users annually. Although most users visit areas with other attractions and established tourist infrastructure like hotels and restaurants, the smaller number of visitors to remote parts of the trail bring valuable outside spending.
Along the coast, the Maine Island Trail connects 183 islands along 375 miles of coastline, attracting 11,385 users per year who bring $553,000 in new spending to the area. This is an excellent example of an economic impact study that carefully identifies new spending that would not have occurred without the trail, as opposed to spending that would happen regardless of the trail’s presence.
Water trails in Pennsylvania are popular with resident anglers and paddlers, as are shoreline activities like picnicking and wildlife viewing. A sample of four of the state’s 21 water trails were associated with 14,000 visitor days over a six-week period in late summer, and $537,000 in spending.
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 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.
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.
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.