COVID-19 Impact Report finds Increased Use on Trails in the PA Highlands and across the state

In early June 2020, Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) released its report The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Pennsylvania’s Non-motorized Trails: Increased Use, Added Strain, and a Newfound Appreciation, which includes feedback from PA Highlands trail managers.

Report methodology included (1) surveying trail managers generally, (2) collecting reported trail data, and (3) compiling media reports, according to the recent blog post authored by PEC Trails Program Director Frank Maguire. 

Responses from several PA Highlands professional trail managers highlight the increased use reported by many managers across Pennsylvania.

“The Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail (Lebanon Co.) is one example. ‘Every day is like a weekend day now,’ says
Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails President, John Wengert, adding, ‘All of our parking lots have been full… and
we have big parking lots!’ An hour away on a weekend afternoon, a member of the project team visiting the
Heritage Rail Trail (York Co.) had to try three different lots before finding parking. And the manager of the
Hanover Trolley Trail, also in York County, reports, ‘The trail is busy all the time every day.'” 

– The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Pennsylvania’s Non-motorized Trails, pages 1-2.

Several additional PA Highlands region organizations responded to the survey, and the following PA Highlands trails, parks, and natural areas are represented in the impact report’s overall survey results:

Appalachian Trail
Chadds Ford PA campus trails
Chester Valley Trail
Cumberland Valley Rail Trail
D&L Trail
Delaware River Water Trail
French & Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust
Lebanon Valley Rail-Trail
Natural Lands Preserve Trails
Northwest Lancaster County River Trail
Schuylkill River Trail
Lancaster Conservancy preserve trails


“For March 2020, trail count numbers from across the state show a 52% increase over 2019 numbers, and a 97% increase over 2018. The story for April is more difficult to tell in percentages.” 

– The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Pennsylvania’s Non-motorized Trails, page 2.

Source: Pennsylvania Environmental Council’s report The COVID-19 Pandemic’s Impact on Pennsylvania’s Non-motorized Trails. 


Read the full report to learn more about the study methodology, understand the identified trends, and view a full list of impacts (both positive and negative).

« »


Click here to see all news

Great American Outdoors Act signed into Law

On August 4th, 2020 GAOA was enacted into law! This measure provides full, permanent dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a $5.9B investment over 5 years to address the maintenance backlog on public lands. Read More

Recorded Webinar: "Discover the Highlands Trail in Pennsylvania"

Watch the webinar from early August 2020 hosted by the PA Highlands Coalition, which featured Appalachian Mountain Club staff Patricia McCloskey and Catherine Poppenwimer. Read More

US House Passes GAOA, and it moves to the President's Desk

On July 22, 2020 the US House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) by a wide bi-partisan margin, 301-107! Read More

14 Acres Added to Nockamixon S.P. in the PA Highlands

On July 9th, 2020 Natural Lands announced the completion of a 2-parcel land acquisition project using federal Highlands funding in Bucks County, PA. Read More