Growing the community through trail tourism

Walking and biking trails can be a great selling point for tourists planning their next trip. Several Wabash Valley communities have miles and miles of trails but could more be done to promote them?

Posted: Nov 7, 2019 6:29 PM
Updated: Nov 8, 2019 6:24 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Walking and biking trails can be a great selling point for tourists planning their next trip. Several Wabash Valley communities have miles and miles of trails but could more be done to promote them?

Community leaders from across the Hoosier state are learning how they can use trails to attract tourists and get those same tourists to explore nearby communities and spend some money.

Rich Moore is the Manager of Griffin Bike Park in southern Vigo County. The park is home to 18 miles of trail. It's one of several beautiful area parks but Moore says many people don’t these parks exist.

Moore says, "We need to market them better. The local people really don't know where all our infrastructural trails are."

Finding ways to better promote and connect area trails is why Moore attended a Trail Towns Workshop. The Greenways Foundation organized six statewide workshops so people like Moore can learn how to get people on the trails and back out into towns and cities to spend money in local businesses.

Amy Camp is a consultant and owner of Cycle Forward. She led Thursday’s workshop in Terre Haute.

Camp says, "We've been talking about creating physical connections to make it easier and safer for people to get between trails and town. We've also talked about what are the things that we do to offer welcoming cues to make people know that they are invited out and encouraged to use the trail and also to come in and interact with our communities."

Moore says he's learned communities really need to support these trails so they can capitalize on the economic benefits.

"Part of it is the culture. We have to learn to embrace the cycle culture. You know, I'm on a bike every day of the week so I understand the cycling culture its stuff like having a bike at your shop or having bike racks downtown or having repair stations here and there."

Neighboring counties are also encouraged to connect with each other to build the whole region.

Moore says, "Their new mayor wants to connect quite a few things down there in Sullivan and I can see someday Vigo county hooking with Sullivan County and Parke county. It would be wonderful to hook everything together."

Thursday’s workshop was the fifth of six workshops happening across the state this week. The last workshop is Friday in Carmel.

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