What is a Multi-surface Trail System?
A multi-surface trail system generally consists of both hard surface greenways and soft surface trails. These two-way off-road systems can be used for numerous forms of recreation such as walking, biking, hiking, jogging, running, skating, as well as wheelchair accessible. One of the biggest benefits of a multi-surface trails system is they are a safe connection corridor to businesses, cultural attractions, parks, and other recreation sites. Multi-surface trails are often a partnership between public and private entities and public and private land. The surface can vary from paved to asphalt to gravel to natural surfaces. They are designed to be used by all ages and for all skill levels.
Trails and greenways are an excellent draw for families and tourists. Studies show availability of trails and greenways impact people’s decision on where to vacation, how long they stay and whether they will return. They are proven to increase surrounding property values, reduce health care costs for the community, as well as revitalize and grow businesses near trails.
A 2012 study by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources found the economic impact of the Katy Trail is $18.5 million annually.
Drawing on Lessons Learned by Others
“There are five IMBA Epic trails in the state. The first mountain bike trail in the state was in the National Forest. When we started building these great trails in urban areas, we realized that no one was riding those National Forest trails – why would you drive out there? Plus, they’re harder and more expensive to maintain. For the number of riders that we’re seeing, it makes sense to grow the urban trails.”
~ Gary Vernon, Program Officer of the Walton Family Foundation
“Bicycle tourism is important to Fayetteville. The things that go along with a cycling friendly community are important to non-cyclists [visitors] as well. [Potential visitors] will look and see [that there are] many miles of bike trails in Fayetteville. [They will] bet Fayetteville also has craft beer or a really great place to [get] coffee. [Potential visitors] are interested in those intersections [between amenities and infrastructure].”
~ Regional tourism official
Why Develop Multi-Surface Trails at Lake of the Ozarks?
Communities across the U.S. benefit annually from building trail systems to boost tourism. A recent study conducted about bicycling in Northwest Arkansas found their multi-surface trails drew about 90,000 – 150,000 out-of-state visitors to the area spending $27 million annually.1. Osage Beach and the Lake area are perfectly suited for a year-round trail system due to our topography and moderate climate. Our rocky soil drains well allowing trails to be used very quickly following rain or snow compared with most parts of the country. The moderate climate is also perfect for year-round usage compared to traditional mountain areas where trails are usually only open for use June through September. Bikers, hikers, and trail runners want hills and we have them and the natural beauty of rock features, bluffs, and lake views are just an added bonus.
The current infrastructure at the Lake meets the needs to serve the additional tourists the trail system will bring to the area in typical “off-season” times. The lodging, restaurants, and entertainment venues visitors want and need, are already here, putting the Lake way ahead of other communities vying for funding dollars.
The Lake area will be able to leverage a trail system to entice new business development. Companies often chose to locate/relocate to communities with numerous amenities as it allows them to attract and retain high-level workers. In the current global economy, where businesses and workers can literally locate anywhere, trails can be a huge magnet.
Trails get used!
“In October 2020 we had 22,000 users per our trail counter on our All-American Trail and we had one solid week of rain that month. These trails get used!”
~ Erin Rushing, Northwest Arkansas Trailblazers
Since the Katy Hiking and Biking Trail opened in Marthasville, a small, quiet town in Missouri, more than a dozen new businesses have opened and renewed civic pride has led to numerous beautification projects. The western half of the trail generates $3 million annually in local revenue.