Support our Trails
Join us in protecting, enhancing, and constructing trails at Tennessee State Parks by donating to the Trail Pack. Your generous donations go directly to trails, helping us ensure they are the best they can be.
Donate to Support Trails
Give Instantly Online
Every donation comes with a gift to show our appreciation, including a 10% discount on overnight stays at Tennessee State Parks and a 20% discount on subscriptions to the Conservationist Magazine.
Please note: Stickers and pins are only available through online orders. They are not available at the park offices, gift shops, etc.
How Are Donations Used?
The Trail Pack provides financial assistance to state park projects that fit into one, or more than one, of the following eligible project categories:
New Trail Construction
All trail construction where current trails do not exist in Tennessee State Parks.
Existing Trail Maintenance
Any trail work being done on trails that presently exist within Tennessee State Parks, including rerouting trails.
Trail Structure Construction and Maintenance
Trail structures include but are not limited to footbridges, benches, boardwalks, and kiosks. These structures are vital to the trail user making it from point A to point B safely. For example, kiosks provide information about the trail such as maps and safety information and bridges provide a safe way for you to cross water features on the trail, some of which would be impassable without the structure.
These structures can incur damage from the elements that require maintenance. Construction may be necessary if the previous structure is damaged beyond repair, or a new trail requires a structure.
Purchasing Necessary Trail Equipment
Trail equipment includes but is not limited to blazes, signage, and trail-building tools.
Park Staff Trail Education
Constructing well-built trails that will withstand the elements and provide a well-rounded experience for hikers requires education. The more education we support for park staff across the state, the better they can construct and maintain our trails.
Volunteer Trail Education
Some trail lovers are interested in supporting trails beyond a donation, and they want to learn how to build and maintain them. Equipping volunteers with the skills to help construct and maintain trails expands the number of people that are qualified to assist with trails in state parks across Tennessee.
Your Donations at Work
Every donation makes a difference!
Check out some of the projects that Trail Pack has supported with donated funds:
A good trail is like a gym membership, a living textbook, and a therapist all rolled into one. High-quality trails are the foundation of a state park system. They connect visitors to the natural, cultural, and historic sites that make these places worth protecting.
It takes time and work to maintain trails. What might seem like a well-worn dirt path is intentionally designed to inspire a deep relationship between the user and nature while protecting the natural environment. These trails provide access to recreation such as hiking, trail running, and mountain biking as well as education about the natural environment.
Consistent use, misuse, and exposure to the elements can pose a threat to our trails. These factors lead to the need for maintenance and new trail builds.
Part of what makes trails at Tennessee State Parks so special is that they’re free for everyone to access and enjoy. So, while the trails don’t require a cost to access, the use of trails does create an ongoing cost. The Outdoor Foundation reports that trail use has been on a steady increase over the past ten years. While we love to see new faces on the trails, the rise in use has increased the frequency at which our trails require maintenance.
Maintaining trails helps prevent erosion and improves trail safety by mitigating issues that can cause hikers to venture off-trail. Staff and volunteers are constantly working to prevent erosion, remove downed trees, and repair unstable bridges. Maintaining trails isn’t always a walk in the park (pun intended) and while it sometimes involves moving giant boulders and the use of heavy machinery, routine maintenance can be as simple as replacing old and broken boards on bridges to ensure guest safety. When consistent maintenance is made possible through funding and volunteer help, the need to construct replacement trails and trail features can often be avoided.
It takes even more time and resources to build a new trail. Every mile of the new trail costs about $30,000 to build. With donations made through the Tennessee State Parks Trail Pack, you can help us fund these routine projects and new builds that will improve the future of trails at Tennessee State Parks.
While Tennessee State Parks have other donation programs in place, those funds are open and available to all park operational needs, meaning trail-centric funding is not guaranteed. When you donate to the Trail Pack, your funds are guaranteed to be used to support trails.
That is a great question! Park maintenance and trail building are funded through appropriations for state parks through the General Assembly. However, the demand for new trails, and the need for maintenance, often outpace the funding. Also those funds are open and available to all operational needs, meaning trail-centric funding is not guaranteed. The Trail Pack program allows trail lovers and users a chance to dedicate additional resources to that specific area of the park they love.
Want to dig deeper into the topic? This study looks at the national impact visitation increases have on the cost per acre of managing public lands.
It might be easier, but easier isn’t always better. We believe everyone should have access to the mental, physical and emotional benefits of the outdoors. Offering free admission is one way we promote equitable access.
Donation opportunities like the Trail Pack allow visitors to give from a place of desire rather than obligation. Plus, it gives visitors a voice in how the funds are used. Trail Pack funds go directly to trails.
The Tennessee State Parks Trail Pack is a non-exclusive group of people who show their support by specifically donating to trails. The donations go into a protected Tennessee State Parks Trail Fund where they are guaranteed to be used to support trails.
Over 80% of polled Tennessee State Park visitors list our trails as the number one reason that they visit. With entry to all Tennessee State Parks being free, donation opportunities like the Trail Pack allow visitors to give from a place of desire rather than obligation.