Local Impact

National Trails provide affordable outdoor recreation that contributes to the overall health and well-being of millions of people nationwide. National Trails not only connect people and communities to each other, but help to make them healthier, more economically viable, and more resilient.

In October, the Ice Age Trail Alliance hosted its third Mammoth Hike Challenge. This free, month-long event challenged participants to hike the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and visit Trail Communities. This year, more than 7,000 people registered to participate, 67% of whom were new to the challenge. Participants reported spending $473,716.69 in the 17 Trail Communities. The Challenge garnered a lot of chatter on social media, generating interest in visiting communities people may never before have thought to visit.

The Florida Trail Gateway Communities Program—a highly successful internship program that creates partnerships with designated towns near the Florida National Scenic Tail that offer accommodations, restaurants, grocery stores activities, and other resources for hikers and recreationists—was transitioned into a full-time staff position in 2022. Hailey Dansby, the first full-time Gateway Community Coordinator has already taken steps to build new kiosks, add several locations to the Florida Trail passport stamp program, and work to develop a GIS Story Map that highlights Gateway Communities throughout the state.

The Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC) released a study in January 2022 on the health, social equity, and economic impacts of the Potomac Heritage National Historic Trail. On average, a tourist to the region spends more than $300 during their stay, including $36 in local taxes. The Benefits of the Trail, however, are not equally distributed. Areas with more socially vulnerable residents typically have fewer access points, more gaps in the trail, and more traffic safety issues than those with less socially disadvantaged residents. The study team worked to develop recommendations for future infrastructure investment and trail programming.

The Arizona Trail Association (ATA) partnered with Charron Vineyards to launch a signature red wine featuring a photo from the Arizona National Scenic Trail near the winery. 5% of every sale will benefit the ATA. This partnership helps promote the trail and funds projects. The winery also serves as a destination for trail users (day trippers and thru-hikers) as it’s a short distance from the trail.

The regional National Trails office finalized an in-house Development Concept Plan (DCP) for the Old Spanish National Historic Trail in the San Luis Valley in Colorado in 2022. This project explores the development of the Trail through Costilla, Alamosa, and Saguache counties in the San Luis Valley, Colorado. The San Luis Valley still retains much of the open character that trail travellers would have experienced and provides a unique opportunity to develop an authentic modern Trail experience for both the local communities and visitors alike to this area. When fully developed, the vision is that people following the Trail through these counties will be able to experience its authentic remains, such as extant sites, trail segments, and historically evocative landscapes.

The Damascus Trail Center, a collaboration between the Town of Damascus and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, opened its doors on August 26, 2022. The center serves as a regional hub for outdoor recreation, education, and volunteer opportunities. Exhibits feature information on the three National Trails that surround Damascus—the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Virginia Creeper National Recreation Trail, and the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail. The newly developed Trail Center is now a place where explorers of all skill levels can learn about these three trails and how they continue to connect communities.

2024 National Trails Workshop Call for Proposals Open