It’s been reported time and again that biking and hiking trails draw users to healthy outdoor pursuits and stimulate the economy. We can see those findings again in a study conducted along the 330-mile network of trails in the Miami Valley in southwestern Ohio.
The study by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission found that the trails aren’t only a big draw for local residents. Fifteen percent 15 percent of the estimated 772,000 annual bicyclists, hikers and equestrians who used the trails came from other parts of Ohio.
Along the way, they’re spending an estimated $13 million a year on their trail visits. What region of this country couldn’t benefit from that amount of tourism dollars annually?
The Miami Valley trail network appears most popular with bicyclists, who account for 60% to 70% of the users, according to the study, available online at Miami Valley Trail User Survey Report 2013.
It’s no wonder the trails are popular with bicyclists, as they can ride between Piqua, Xenia, Dayton, and Urbana to the outskirts of Cincinnati without encountering road traffic. The longest sections of trail follow historic railroad and canal towpaths, while other paths were laid out over parks and public right-of-way.
The Ohio-Erie Trail and the Little Miami Scenic Trail are the longest in the area. Others include the Creekside Trail, Ohio to Indiana Trail and the Wright Brothers-Huffman Prairie Trail. The trail network has been growing by bits and pieces over the pat 45 years, according to the study.
The researchers collected data using automatic counters on the trails, as well as volunteers to interview users.
In interviews, many said they bought a bicycle or bicycle supplies in order to use the trails. Nearly half said they bought drinks, snacks, sandwiches or restaurant meals on their ride. A few visiting the trail from outside the region said they stayed in motel, campgrounds or bed and breakfast inns during their trip, staying on average 2.4 nights.
The Dayton Daily News also has more about the report.
See the interactive trail map at Miami Valley Bike Trails