Prescription Trails

Based in: Albuquerque and participating municipalities in New Mexico

Participating Agencies: Albuquerque Alliance for Active Living, New Mexico Health Care Takes on Diabetes

Unique Features: Thorough and accurate trail rating system; collaborative data-driven program development



The Prescription Trails program is designed to increase physical activity among New Mexico residents, especially those who are completely physically inactive. To accomplish this, the program aims to:

  1. Identify walking venues that are both safe and accessible to patients with diabetes and other chronic disease conditions
  2. Encourage healthcare professionals to write prescriptions for park and trail use
  3. Provide trail and park information through a printed walking guide and a web-based mapping tool to healthcare professionals so they can effectively prescribe their use
  4. Conduct public education about park-based physical activity

The Prescription Trails concept began within a grant-funded, multi-agency partnership as a program to write prescriptions for walking to patients with diabetes. Its development has continued largely through volunteer efforts by partner agencies and individuals, notably New Mexico Health Care Takes On Diabetes, which manages the Prescription Trails Program in New Mexico.

The program recruited scouts, interns, and other volunteers to help evaluate more than 70 loop trails across Albuquerque. Only trails that had been field checked and approved were included in the program. Prescription Trails periodically reviews trails to ensure that they are well maintained and continue to meet established standards. It works with city and county government to plan trail improvements, such as gluing trail markers every ¼ mile to identify distance traveled, or grinding down sidewalk edges that have been damaged by roots and other causes.

Tools Created:

  • ADA park and trail ratings to help doctors prescribe physical activity that would be appropriate for a patient’s health condition.
  • Standardized Prescription Trails prescription pads designed specifically to convey an austere sense of medical authority. The straightforward design provides areas to indicate the prescribed duration and frequency. There is also space for the practitioner to note specific physical activity locations.
  • Prescription Trails walking guide booklets to local “approved” parks and trails, with photos and detailed information about park locations, amenities, and trail ratings.
  • Prescription Trails “walking log” and “walking tips” handouts are available to supplement the patient’s prescription.
  • Prescription Trails website with search and map functionality designed to help patients find venues in their neighborhood that are approved by the Prescription Trails program.

View this Informational Video to learn more.