13 December, 2021

National Léger Survey finds trail use has increased 40% in 2021

85% of Canadians have been exploring trails since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a national Léger survey commissioned by Trans Canada Trail in August 2021. This is the latest in a series of surveys to show that trail use is up across Canada as Canadians have, during the pandemic, embraced outdoor recreation opportunities that enhance their physical and mental health.



Trails remain a lifeline for Canadians

– during and post-COVID

This survey found that COVID-19 has changed the way Canadians use trails, with 40% of Canadians increasing their trail usage since 2020, and survey results indicate that trails will maintain their place in Canadians’ routine post pandemic. The majority of Canadians (72%) say they will continue to use trails post pandemic, with a quarter (25%) intending to use them more often. Among those who identify as trail users, those numbers increase to 96% planning to use trails once the pandemic is behind us, with 34% expecting to use them more often than they currently do. 


Trails a mechanism for well-being and economic recovery

Trails have emerged as a vital tool for Canada’s economic recovery with 72% of Canadians using trails to explore their communities. And while the pandemic has increased levels of stress and taken a toll on mental health, trails have been a place of respite.  The Léger survey found that 94% of Canadians frequently use trails to enjoy a safe outdoor experience and the fresh air. 

“Our studies have shown that trails make an important contribution to our economy – and these polling results underscore the potential for trails to continue to do so, with 52% of Canadians planning to include trails in their next vacation plans. Trails attract tourists and they also connect visitors to local businesses and attractions, which enhances local economies. They also enrich our understanding of Canada’s history, and in particular our understanding of the importance of relationships with Indigenous communities,” says Eleanor McMahon, President & CEO, Trans Canada Trail.


Supporting positive climate action 

With climate change a top-of-mind issue for voters in the 2021 federal election, Canadians agree that active transportation infrastructure such as trails are vital to positive climate action. The Léger survey results also show: 

  • 89% of Canadians agree trails lower emissions and enhance air quality; 
  • 80% of Canadians agree trails decrease congestion; and  
  • 90%  of Canadians agree trails make local communities healthier. 


Continued investment in trails for the benefit of all Canadians

According to the Léger survey, 77% of Canadians feel it is very important for governments (federal, provincial/territorial, municipal) to invest in the development and maintenance of recreational trails.

McMahon notes, “As the stewards of the longest trail system in the world, we are proud of the work we do, but we can’t do it without the vital yearly support that we receive from the federal government. The work that we do, in partnership with local trail organizations, is critical to protecting our natural environment for generations to come, and makes a robust contribution to our economy and local job creation through infrastructure investments and tourism. These survey results reinforce the importance of continuing to invest in the Trans Canada Trail given its numerous benefits.” 


To learn more about how Canadians have been embracing trails, see our November 2020 Léger survey here and our June 2020 survey here


 Survey methodology: 

A web survey was conducted with a representative sample of 1,544 Canadians. Respondents were randomly selected from Léger’s web panel, and included French- and English-speaking Canadians, 18 years of age and older. Data collection for this study took place from August 27 to 29, 2021. For comparative purposes, a probabilistic sample of 1,544 respondents would have a maximum margin of error of ± 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.