Over the past decade, the number and sophistication of trail projects has grown as has local awareness of their value. They attract tourists and tourists' revenue. They have historical, scenic and cultural appeal. Trails provide a transportation alternative and play a vital role in physical, mental and spiritual well-being. They appeal to a wide variety of demographic groups, become community showplaces, and are important in protecting our environments and landscapes. But most important are the joy, fun and recreational value they bring to local residents.
Modern life is busy, noisy and taxing. People seek out green places… places to get away from the daily bustle, quite peaceful places to refresh the spirit. A simple walk in a green place brings tranquility, health and a calmer mind better able to cope with civilization. So greenways and trails are more than desirable; they're necessary. That's why DCR devotes so much energy and resources to them. Its 34 state parks have more than 500 miles of trails, and its natural area preserves have trails that allow visitors to observe nature in an undisturbed setting. And DCR helps localities and communities develop their trails and greenways. Click here to learn more about greenways and trails.
Not all trails are on land. Water trails are becoming more and more popular. Water trail users get an up-close look at the great outdoors from a different vantage point. Virginia, a water-rich state, is also water-trail rich. There are about 1,200 miles of water trails in the commonwealth, including the Captain John Smith Chesapeake Bay National Historic Trail. Water trails provide access along rivers, streams, the Chesapeake and lakes while providing opportunities to learn about an area's natural, historical and economic assets. Click here to learn about water trails and blueways.
The presence of well-maintained trails is a hallmark of a thriving community. Ideally, trails should exist within 15 minutes from most Americans’ homes, according to Trails for All Americans. DCR recently updated its "trails toolbox" with this in mind. The toolbox is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to help localities, groups and individuals plan and develop trails of all kinds. The guide was fashioned in consideration of the state's regulatory framework as well as the commonwealth's geography. Trail professionals and agency experts created the toolbox to enhance trail-building at the grassroots level. Click here for the trails toolbox.