"Across Pennsylvania, in both rural and urban areas, people got outside in unprecedented numbers following the rise of the pandemic," reveals a new study on local trail usage. 

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council, or PEC, works to improve and create more trails throughout the Commonwealth. By studying the changes in trail usage due to Covid, they gained new insights into the ongoing concerns around trail access, maintenance, and etiquette.

To better document and understand this moment of increased trail usage, PEC commissioned Amy Camp of Cycle Forward to undertake a report capturing COVID-19’s impact on non-motorized trails. 

Camp's report compared data from seventy-four local trail managers to trail data collected by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Authority, and Poconos Forest and Waters Conservation Landscape, from past years. 

The study collected use data for around 14 sites and compared the data from the years 2020, 2019, and 2018. In addition, the study analyzed media reports about Covid's impact on outdoor recreation in the state.


Chart from the study on PA trail use from 2018-2020 by the Pennsylvania Environmental Council.

The results revealed a surprising fact: In both urban and rural areas, trail usage increased dramatically following the closures enacted for COVID-19. It increased so much that the 2020 trail season started an entire month early– March, instead of April. 

Officials believe the results of this study help make a case for the importance of trails throughout the Commonwealth.  

More details and a link to the entire study can be found here.

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This story was compiled by an NCPA staff reporter from submitted news. To see a list of our editorial staff please visit our staff directory.