Many recreational activities related to trails, e.g., running or jogging, biking, hiking, have experienced a dramatic increase. Among all recreational activities, hiking is believed to be the most common one, which produces significant impacts on the ecological system. With the rapid development of China’s protected areas (PAs), recreational trails also face many problems. This study reviews the existing research (125 papers) on recreational trails and their impacts in order to provide a theoretical support and referential basis for relevant future research in China’s PAs such as national parks and national forest parks. Knowledge, methodologies, data sets on the trail degradation, trail resource impacts, and solutions have been accumulated in the world, and these should be a good base to future studies in Chinese PAs. Although hardened or cement-paved trails have some positive effects, those in most PAs in China should be limited as unpaved trails in other parts of the world.