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Economic Benefits of Trails

The trail studies described in this guide collectively identify a variety of trail benefits:

  • Trails increase the value of nearby properties.
  • Trails boost spending at local businesses. Communities along trails, often called trail towns, benefit from the influx of visitors going to restaurants, snack shops and other retail establishments. On longer trails, hotels, bed and breakfasts, and outdoor outfitters benefit.
  • Trails make communities more attractive places to live. When considering where to move, homebuyers rank walking and biking paths as one of the most important features of a new community.
  • 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.
  • Trails revitalize depressed areas, creating a demand for space in what were once vacant buildings.
  • Trails provide transportation options and cut fuel expenses, offering reliable means of transportation for short distance trips. Nearly half of all car trips are less than 3 miles and more than a quarter are one mile or less.
  • Trails provide low or no-cost recreation to families with low costs relative to other recreational services that could be provided by government.
  • Trails increase tax revenues in the communities in which they are located.
  • These benefits represent a huge 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.