Did you get outside in 2020? Was it your first time? The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) recently reported that last year 160.7 million Americans, or 53% of the United States population, ages 6 and over participated in outdoor recreation at least once. This is the highest participation rate on record; an increase of 7.1 million more participants than in 2019. Hiking stood out as a top outdoor activity with 57.8 million participants, or 19% of the American population! The number of hikers has grown every year, despite COVID. Though, the report attributes this significant spike to the pandemic.
The OIA also commissioned a one-time special report, “2021 Special Report: The New Outdoor Participant (COVID and Beyond),” which shows that almost 60% of the new outdoor participants started or resumed outdoor activities since the onset of the pandemic.
More than a majority of these new participants said that getting exercise, staying healthy, and getting out of the house to spend time with family and friends top the reasons they started outdoor activities. This finding presents an opportunity to retain these new participants by positioning the outdoors as a safe and accessible choice.
How do we keep these new participants engaged in the outdoor activities now that lockdowns have ended, the report asks? One sure way is to provide them with safe and continuous hiking trails. Access to continuous and safe hiking corridors ensures that hikers of all levels have the opportunity to experience and enjoy America’s outdoor resources as envisioned by the National Trails System Act of 1968.
Please support Hiking Trails for America’s mission to close the gaps of the National Scenic Trails by signing our Petition today.