Benefits of trails for your city/town
Economic benefits of organized trails
- Trails use boost spending at local businesses. Communities in trail towns benefit from the influx of trail tourists going to restaurants and other retail establishments. On longer trails/larger trail networks, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and outdoor outfitters benefit.
- Trails create jobs and in the process new skills are developed.
- Trails make communities more attractive places to live. When considering where to move, home buyers rank walking and biking paths as important features of a new community.
- Trails increase the value of nearby properties.
- Organized trail networks are a sustainable tourism products for towns and cities.
- Trails influence business location and relocation decisions. Companies often choose to locate in communities that offer a high level of amenities to employees as a means of attracting and retaining top-level workers. Trails can make communities attractive to businesses looking to expand or relocate both because of the amenities they offer to employees and the opportunities they offer to cater to trail visitors.
- Trails reduce medical costs by encouraging exercise and other healthy outdoor activities, leading to a healthier society.
- Trails can revitalize depressed areas, creating a demand for space in what were once vacant buildings and areas.
- Trails provide transportation options and cut fuel expenses and pollution.
- Trails provide low or no-cost recreation to families with low costs relative to other recreational options.
- Trails increase tax revenues in the communities in which they are located.
- These benefits represent a good economic return on the money invested into trail projects. The costs of land acquisition for trails, trail construction and maintenance are far outweighed by the economic benefits generated by trails.
Social benefits of organized trails
- The experience of walking, running and bicycling helps us connect people and places. Walkers move at slower speeds and have more time to perceive and comprehend the details of the environment and the community.
- Gathering places for trail users such as trail heads, trail cafes, club houses, restaurants or a trail office, creates a sense of community.
- Organized hikes, runs, cycling trips and events bring the community together.
- Important information is shared at these community gatherings and via social media pages users share.
Heritage benefits of organized trails
- Trails provide the visitor with first hand opportunities to understand, appreciate and enjoy key heritage sites in and area.
- Tourists are increasingly attracted to educational oriented experiences provided by cultural and historic sites.
- The history of human habitation along trails can generate heritage tourism through the establishment of heritage trails.
Wellness benefits of organized trails
Trails and green ways provide natural, scenic areas that provides the opportunity for people to be outside, social and physically active. This connection with nature improves mental and physical wellness. Benefits of exercising in nature includes:
- Improves fitness levels
- Provides variety to your workouts
- Improves mental well-being.
- Relieves stress and anxiety
- Distracts from everyday worries
- Provides a sense of adventure
- Creates awareness of conservation
- Provides more Vitamin D from sunlight
- Provides more oxygen from fresh air
- Reduces blood pressure
- Is cost effective
- Can be a spiritual experience
- Can create a sense of community
Environmental and Land Owner benefits or organized trails
- Trail systems protect regionally significant natural landscapes. Through protection of resources and preservation of open space, trails define zones free of human habitation and development areas for outdoor use.
- Outdoor recreation has also proven to be one of the best sources of environmental education. Organized trails provide information to visitors/users about the importance and value of our natural environment. Through personal interactions with vegetation, geology and wildlife, users come to learn about and appreciate natural settings.
- Sustainability and responsible behaviors are important factors in realizing optimum environmental benefits while also accommodating recreation use. User awareness programs, communications, careful trail planning and design, and stewardship are key program elements that support trail environmental benefits and trail sustainability.
- Marketing mediums such as the trail website and social media can be important communication tools for land managers/owners. Through this they can make aware, educate, communicate change and do market research.
- Open cleared trails will help control fire risks and make access to areas easier and safer.
- Professional signage, route markers and permits will have emergency numbers to aid assistance and evacuation.
- Permits systems can help control and manage trail use.
- Permits systems can provide an income to land managers.
- Trail systems can provide land managers with tourism and economic opportunities.
Children and nature
Trails provide important opportunities for children and their families to access, experience and learn about nature. Our failure to ensure that children have rich connections with nature has led to what Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and founder of the Children and Nature Network, terms Nature Deficit Disorder. Louv points out that a generation growing up with little or no experience in the natural world is exhibiting exploding rates of psychological and physical problems.
All too often, we prescribe new medications rather than fresh air. Yet nature can be even more powerful than pharmaceuticals in treating Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), clinical depression, obesity and other near epidemic diseases. The challenge to act resides in all of us. We need to find creative and engaging ways to capture the interest of children and their parents in the magic of the natural world. We need to toss these ideas out to communities, where they can help them grow and flourish. This is why the development of trails and green spaces are important.