In what will come as no surprise to anyone who has visited the LHT or any trails or parks in 2020 – we had a very busy year! The Covid-19 pandemic – which kept us home from work and school, cancelled our travel plans, and kept us away from malls, restaurants, and movie theaters – brought folks outside in droves. And the outside was there for us: For exercise, a chance to reconnect with nature, a place to clear our heads, and an opportunity to just safely get out of our living rooms.
Outdoor spaces around the country saw huge increases in visitors in 2020 over 2019 – as measured by admissions fees and reservations, facilities usage, parking lots, and, of course, trail counters. The LHT employs a series of trail counters and in 2020 the number of hikers and bikers passing through these exploded.
To wit: We analyzed usage data from early July to late November from our Keefe Road counter, which straddles our much-loved Village Park and Mercer Meadows – Pole Farm segments. In 2019, we recorded just over 18,000 individuals during that four-month span; with a handful of individual dates clocking in with over 200 users. Not too shabby! Well, we tripled that in 2020, with over 56,000 users and a record 757 hits on August 30th alone.
The fact that so many members of our community took solace in the LHT during this most difficult year means a lot to those of us working behind the scenes. As we embark on a new year and what will likely be a long winter before a better spring and summer, we hope you’ll continue to take advantage of the LHT – a 22-mile slice of nature and calm in our own backyards. Happy New Year.