The American Hiking Society has released a 28-page "state of the trails" report, a comprehensive rundown of where hiking is today and how far it's come over the past 50 years. The full report is well worth a read, but here are 10 cool takeaways:
1. Since the National Trails System was established in 1965, the total mileage of trails on federal lands has increased from 88,000 miles to 193,500 miles. On state lands, the number has increased from 15,000 miles to 42,500 miles.
2. 35 million Americans went day hiking in 2013, up from 30 million in 2006.
3. 9 million Americans went backpacking in 2013, up from 7 million in 2006.
4. Volunteers put in 1.2 million hours of trail maintenance and management for the Forest Service in 2012, estimated to be worth about $26 million. In 2014, more than 1 million hours were donated to maintaining National Scenic and Historic Trails, valued at $24 million.
5. More than 21,800 volunteers participated in 439 trail projects on National Trails Day in 2014.
6. The outdoor recreation industry grew about 5% annually from 2005 to 2011 despite the nationwide economic sluggishness.
7. In 2012, consumers spent $646 billion on outdoor recreation in America. When factoring in total economic activity, that number swells to $1.6 trillion and provides an estimated 12 million jobs.
8. By 2060, day hiking is projected to see the greatest rate of growth in adults out of any outdoor recreational activity.
9. The Appalachian Trail receives about 2 million recreation visits annually.
10. In 2008, trail availability was the number one amenity among prospective home buyers, outranking things such as security, golf courses, parks, and access to shopping.
Read more: American Hiking Society