American Hiking Society released a report advocating creation of trails as a way to address the many health issues facing the American public due to physical inactivity during a media event on Capitol Hill Sunday.

In the report, Hiking Trails in America: Pathways to Health, American Hiking Society makes the case that hiking – including urban hiking – with its focus on recreation and fun, can be just the thing that helps get people on the path to better health, not just for a while but for a lifetime.

During a press conference held on Capitol Hill May 30, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-NE, highlighted how trails are the type of infrastructure that bring people closer together and are a part of the fabric of communities.

“Trails play an important role in promoting family-oriented recreation, economic growth, and healthier lifestyles,” said Fortenberry.

U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, argued the benefits of trails far outweigh their costs.

“The resources we invest in natural area trails, urban connectivity, pays for itself many times over in terms of environmental benefit, in terms of healthcare,” said Blumenauer, who is a leading spokesman for sustainable communities and founder of the Bicycle Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Also in attendance, Tom Tidwell, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, encouraged the American public to get outside for fun and fitness by hiking on some of the 157,000 miles of public trails managed by the Forest Service, telling those gathered that “These are your trails. These belong to you.”

Founded in 1976, American Hiking Society is the only national, recreation-based nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting America’s hiking trails, their surrounding natural areas and the hiking experience. To learn more about American Hiking Society and its mission and programs, please visit