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Canadians’ trail use up significantly during COVID-19: Survey

Usage is up close to 50% across all age groups.
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Canadians have been using trails across the nation in greater numbers since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. File photo

Canadians are using trails across Canada in greater numbers since the onset of COVID-19, with usage up close to 50 per cent across all age groups.

That’s according to a recent national Léger survey, commissioned by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) organization, which is the steward of the 27,000 km Great Trail of Canada, the longest recreational trail in the world.

When asked to compare their trail use to summer/fall 2019, 76 per cent of Canadians said they are using trails as much or more than before with 44 per cent confirming that they have increased their usage.

Among Canadians 18-24 and 25-34, usage has increased by 55 and 52 per cent respectively, while among those aged 55-64 and over 65, usage has increased by 39 and 35 per cent respectively.

Trails 'a haven that connects [Canadians] to nature'

“This confirmation of increased use mirrors what we have seen on our network, and what our trail partners and operators have told us: trail use is up across the country as Canadians seek a refuge from social isolation and a haven that connects them to nature,” said Eleanor McMahon, president and CEO of TCT.

“The data also underscores the fact that Canadians, especially now, value their access to trails and see them as a way to enhance their physical and mental health.”

In terms of how and why Canadians are using trails during this pandemic period, TCT asked Canadians about whether enhancing their mental health motivated their decision to use trails, and 95 per cent confirmed that this is the case. 

“This data underscores the fact that trails make important contributions to our social well-being as well as to our physical and mental health,” added McMahon.

“Together with the data on increased trail use, it is clear that trails have become a lifeline for Canadians during COVID-19 providing them with vital connections to nature, and to each other.”

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