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Fremantle WA 6160
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  • Economic Benefits of Trails | Wayfound, Fremantle

26th May 2017

Could a trail revitalise your town or region?

A success story from the Midwest of the USA


The Western Australian Department of Sport & Recreation has just released the Western Australian Strategic Trails Blueprint 2017 – 2021. The document provides a framework for development of trails throughout WA. There are a lot of benefits of trails such as health & well-being, social connection, appreciation of nature and economic benefits to communities.

If you follow us at Wayfound, you’ll know that we are keen promotors of trails as part of the tourism offer that destinations should consider. We know they result in economic benefits, like the Wheatbelt Way data demonstrates.

So, we were really interested in this article we came across about the benefits of Mountain Biking Trails to former mining and industrial towns in the USA. The article is the story of Crosby, Minnesota, a former mining town that had sunk into a depressed and hopeless state after the mine had closed in the 1960’s. Left behind were the buildings, open pits and piles of red dirt. But little else for the town’s economy or community.

Following some work by the Minnesota State Government in the early 1990’s to preserve mining heritage, the town was cleaned up. But, still had no visitors until some mountain bikers from a club 125 miles away discovered the piles of red dirt, that made for excellent terrain. This lead to some local volunteers building a demo trail and later the State Government investing in creating a 25-mile track, which was finished in 2011.

The area has now been named one of the best singletrack trail systems in the Midwest of the USA.

And what has this meant for the local economy?

  • 25,000 cyclists now come to the area every year
  • They add $2million to the local economy each year
  • They spend $382 per person per cycling trip
  • 15 new businesses have opened – ranging from of accommodation, to places to eat and drink
  • Young people have come to town and stayed because they saw the growth potential from the trail and the visitor economy.

When the trail is expanded to 75 miles as planned – this is expected to generate $21million per year for the local economy.

So, what could a trail mean for your local area and economy? It may not be mountain biking but it could be bushwalking, horse riding, 4WD or 2WD – around town, remote or coastal. But, you have to do it well and create a real experience to attract visitors. But, like Crosby it could be the thing that turns your town around.

If you want to discuss creating or improving a trail in your local or regional area, please get in touch with Kim D’Alton at Wayfound. [email protected] or 08 9430 4166 or 0410 449 375.