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Predictors of Return Visits to Trails with Self-Guided Materials for Children

Daniel G. Clark, Benjamin Ukert, Jason Urroz, Carolyn Ward, Michelle C. Kondo


Participation in outdoor recreation can positively contribute to physical and emotional well-being. However, questions remain regarding the most effective way to implement programs that promote childhood engagement in outdoor recreation. Using seven years of data, we explored factors driving visitation to trailheads that offer self-guided materials for children at parks and recreation facilities of the Kids in Parks program. We evaluated the demographic, managerial, and physical predictors of visitation to the 115 trails included in the program. Of 769 visitors who made at least one return visit to a TRACK Trail, 305 (39.7%) returned to the same trail, 675 (87.8%) returned to a different trail, and 211 (27.4%) did both. Using multiple linear regression, we found that repeat visits to any trail and new trails increased (p<0.01) when the trail was in a state park or a national forest. Return visits to new trails were more likely to take place at locations without a visitor center, and at locations that were located farther away from visitors’ homes. Visitors who made any return trail visits came from areas with significantly higher unemployment rates, compared to visitors who did not make repeat visits. The results of this study have broad applications in creating inclusive recreation opportunities for all residents, and guiding communities as they make management decisions. 

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Parks; recreation programs; landscape; linear multiple regression; gateways

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