Ohio Trails Vision Establishes the Path for Managing and Promoting Trail Experiences
OTA and our Statewide Nature Tourism Forums Helped Shape this Vision
Ohio is already a national leader in trail experiences with more than 5,000 trail miles. Recognizing the amazing opportunities such an inventory provides, ODNR named a Trails Advisory Team last April that began work on creating a statewide trails plan with recommendations. OTA Executive Director Melinda Huntley serves on this team. The Ohio Trails Vision was released this week and is chock-full of exciting plans for the trails future of Ohio.
The overall goal is to provide a trail experience within five miles of every Ohioan. Throughout the document, you’ll find providing exceptional experiences is just as important. As the plan explores various trails systems – multi-use trails, natural surface hiking trails, motorized trails, mountain biking trails, equestrian trails and water trails – you’ll find plenty of recommendations for enhancing the quality of trails and providing destination experiences.
Unique to most state trails plans, Ohio’s plan incorporates a chapter on marketing to ensure that people know about the trails. This chapter was influenced by the series of nature tourism forums OTA and ODNR held in 2013.
Four marketing goals are explored in detail. These goals are protecting the integrity of trail experiences, increasing economic activity and the quality of experiences, increasing awareness of Ohio trails and increasing access to expertise, knowledge and collaboration.
Recommendations include the following:
- Develop a Statewide User Survey to inform marketing and development decisions
- Developing workshops for trail managers, DMOs and businesses to create and market recreation experiences that meet the expectations of trail users.
- Provide resources and best practices for trail managers on sustainability and protection of the trail experience.
- Brand and market Ohio trails
- Develop a statewide trail marketing plan
- Establish an Ohio Trails Town program
Also included in the plan are a few pages aligning Ohio trails and the travel buying cycle. “The intent of these pages was to offer all involved in marketing and managing trail a way of thinking about what specific strategies are needed for users planning a trip, booking a trip, experiencing a trip and more,” said Huntley. "Take what is needed while visiting a trail as an example. Recommendations include making sure Wi-Fi, clear signage, overnight facilities with places to store equipment, nearby businesses who carry trail user items and pedestrian-friendly communities to name a few."
“Our hope is that these pages are the starting points for conversations,” said Huntley.
Among the overall recommendations is to continue the Trails Advisory Team to coordinate implementation of the strategies outlined in the plan. The team will work with ODNR, as well as the Ohio Trails Legislative Caucus to make Ohio’s world-class trails even better. . . . as well as more sought-after by Ohioans and those outside of Ohio.