Trail Studies and Economic Impact Research

Searchable Databases of Greenway/Trail Economic Impact Studies:

Online searchable databases

  • Headwaters Economics – 105 studies on the impacts of trails in a single library, searchable by type of benefit, use, year, and region.
  • National Recreational Trails Database – The online database contains information on 1256National Recreation Trails in all 50 states. Trail data is as provided by the trail manager.

New England/Connecticut Studies:

Nationwide Studies (selected):

Property Valuation:

The question of how greenways and multi-use trails effect adjacent property values has not been conclusively answered. Real estate and trails professionals take a different view than economists, who see increases in property values as a redistribution of wealth offset by decreases elsewhere. There is also a subjective component to consider, as not all homeowners consider a trail to be an asset.


Willingness-to-pay refers to the amount that an individual is willing to pay to use a non-market good such as a trail or greenway. Willingness-to-pay is an important variable in benefit-cost analysis as well as in determining consumer surplus, or net willingness-to-pay, which is the amount an individual is willing to pay minus the actual cost of use. If this surplus is spent locally, it can be considered an economic effect due to the trail or greenway.

Public Health Impacts of Trails:

This is a topic overlooked in many economic impact analyses of multi-use trails and greenways. The health benefits due to increased physical activity are considerable, but comparatively little literature exists examining the relationship between the two in regard to trail usage.

Resources for Trail Data Collection:

Surveys remain the principal method of data collection regarding trail use. The following resources can help in designing and implementing a trail user survey.

Economic Background Literature:

The following documents are helpful in defining the terms and concepts examined in most economic impact studies:

Downtowns and Trails Resources