2023 Hamilton Beltline Spring Trail Adventure
Trail Monitoring Program

Tri-State Trails Releases Initial Insights from 2023 Trail Monitoring Data

Monday, April 1, 2024 by Pat LaFleur

As new connections come online, traffic continues to grow on region’s most popular trails

As local governments across the Tri-State continue building robust and connected networks of shared use pathways, more and more folks are lacing up to hit the trails. And Tri-State Trails has the data to prove it.

With 2023 being Tri-State Trails’ seventh consecutive year of gathering robust trail usage data at over 120 locations around Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana, we are pleased to report increases in both Annual Average Daily Trail Traffic (AADTT) and Trail Miles Traveled (TMT) on several of the region’s most prominent trail corridors. AADTT, or the average number of people who visit a trail on any given day throughout the year, is the key metric we track to understand changes in usage over time. TMT provides a regional outlook of how much the regional trail network is being used from year to year.  While some lesser-used trails saw drops in one or both of these metrics, the region’s most prominent trails continued to grow in traffic, especially as new segments and connectors came online in 2022 and 2023.

“When you look at the data across all our trail counters for 2023, it paints a clear picture: regional connected networks are being used more heavily,” said Wade Johnston, Executive Director of Tri-State Trails. “While we’re seeing dips in some locations, like along the Little Miami Scenic Trail in Warren County where the trail has been closed, we’re seeing surges in others – especially around the newest connections to the CROWN like the Beechmont Bridge. This tells us folks are electing to visit some of the newer trail destinations in our region. For many Cincinnati residents, the CROWN is bringing a safe, accessible trail experience closer to home.”

Trail usage across the network – a total of 201 miles monitored in 2023 – was down -5% at 251 AADTT, compared to 265 AADTT in 2022.  A key reason for this is because Tri-State Trails includes baseline usage data from shorter, noncontiguous trails in the analysis – like a 0.6 mile segment of the Ohio River Trail West, which is anticipated to expand in future years – which tends to lower AADTT across the board.  Overall, trail usage is still on an upward trend line since pre-pandemic usage in 2019, when AADTT was 219.  Pedestrians and cyclists traversed nearly 17.6 million Trail Miles Traveled in 2023, up 6% from 16.6 million TMT in 2022.

To illustrate where growth in usage is happening, below we break down some of 2023’s top trail trends:


The CROWN’s AADTT grew slightly by 3% (401 AADTT) between 2022 and 2023. However, the real standout last year for the aspirational urban trail loop was around the Beechmont Bridge.

In September 2022, Great Parks of Hamilton County cut the ribbon on the long-awaited Beechmont Bridge Connector Project, finally providing a direct trail link between the Little Miami Scenic Trail and the Lunken Airport Trail. Not coincidentally, the southern leg of the Little Miami Scenic Trail saw AADTT increase by 31% (572 AADTT), Lunken Airport Trail increased by 20% (452 AADTT), and Otto Armleder Memorial Park increased 44% (249 AADTT) from 2022.  In comparison, usage on the popular Wasson Way trail increased around 4% (362 AADTT).

Little Miami Scenic Trail

Farther north along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, two closures in effect in Warren County impacted usage on Greater Cincinnati’s most iconic trail. AADTT decreased overall by -1% (371 AADTT) across the 58 miles of the Little Miami Scenic Trail that Tri-State Trails monitors. Increased traffic on the southern end of the trail around the Beechmont Bridge carried the weight of this trail’s usage.

The two-year-long bridge project at Grandin Road / King Avenue by Cartridge Brewing was finally reopened in December 2023.  However, in October 2023, the trail was closed in Loveland for a bridge replacement project, which is scheduled to be completed in May 2024.

Purple People Bridge

The Purple People Bridge – connecting Newport and Downtown Cincinnati – remains the most used trail segment in the Tri-State, with an AADTT of 1,895.  Overall, the region’s only designated bridge for pedestrians and cyclists over the Ohio River increased by 3%, up from 1,848 AADTT in 2022.

Oxford Area Trails

About an hour north of the region’s urban center, trail builders have been busy in Oxford. With the recent completion of the southern portion of the Oxford Area Trail, AADTT along the Butler County trail network increased by 51% to 284 AADTT. Miami University’s recently completed trail along the campus’ eastern edge also contributed to this significant increase, allowing users to take longer and safer trips.

Great Miami River Trail

Overall, AADTT increased by 20% (167 AADTT) on the Great Miami River Trail from 2022 to 2023.  Trail usage increased particularly in the Hamilton area, growing by 29% (257 AADTT), most likely due to the recent additions of the Hamilton Beltline Trail and Timberhill Connection in MetroParks of Butler County’s Rentschler Forest.  The popularity of the new Spooky Nook Sports Champion Mill complex could also be a driving factor of the Great Miami River Trail’s uptick in usage in Hamilton.

Why Collect This Data?

Tri-State Trails developed the region’s first comprehensive Trail Monitoring Program in 2017, in partnership with Interact for Health.  Building on and integrating data from existing monitoring programs established by Friends of Little Miami State Park, Great Parks of Hamilton County, and the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Council of Governments, Tri-State Trails expanded the reach of trail counting to other regional trails. While Tri-State Trails makes high-level insights from each year’s annual data report available to the general public (much like this article), we also provide enhanced data access – including comprehensive, multi-year data sets – for Tri-State Trails member organizations at the Trailblazer and Pathfinder levels.

Many of the recently completed trail projects are made possible with the generous financial support of various local, state, and federal grant programs. Tri-State Trails’ Trail Monitoring Program data can help your community make the case for continued investment in trails and active transportation – both in grant applications and to your elected officials and constituents.  

Tri-State Trails is proud to partner with our member organizations to set up trail count monitoring devices and track trail usage to assist with such efforts, among numerous other membership benefits.

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