Author: Stuart Macdonald

What is a National Recreation Trail?

Dick Westfall of Illinois State Parks provides details on the the 25 National Recreation Trails in Illinois. From ancient waterways to old rail lines, National Recreation Trails are all about moving outdoor experiences. These routes offer visitors a range of outdoor settings— cypress swamps, prairies, woodlands, lakeshores and more. What do the Lower Cache River Trail, where you can quietly canoe through a primeval swamp, the Great River Trail, where you can bike through pleasant river towns along the mighty Mississippi, and the Moraine Hills State Park trail system, where you can see deer and other wildlife just a...

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Looking back with Roger Bell

After 20 years Roger Bell is stepping down from the American Trails Board Having been on the American Trails Board, serving in various leadership roles for nearly 20 years, it feels like I’m leaving a part of my family. But with my 80th birthday this year, it was time. And I won’t be going away totally. Bob Searns (who was such an outstanding AT Board President and a great friend) and I will go onto the Advisory Board and Bob has ideas about making that group more relevant. Also, I’m very interested in the Emerging Leaders project, which has...

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The Heartbeat of a Community

  American Trails Supports Turtle Bay’s Efforts to become Self Sustaining Redding’s Sundial Bridge is the heartbeat of our community and the centerpiece of the Turtle Bay Exploration Park and the area’s extensive trails system. This is the place that leaves a mark in the mind of any visitor and what they remember and dream about: the parks, trails, gardens, and museums, with the bridge soaring overhead and across a magnificent river – with mountains as a backdrop. Cities and towns across the U.S. have cleaned up and created access to their rivers and streams. Redding, being blessed with...

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Trails for All Americans

For two memorable years I went to meeting after meeting of the committee charged with proposing new regulations for accessible trails. The Americans with Disabilities Act was the spur for addressing accessibility of our public lands and outdoor recreation areas. Our committee issued its report in 1999. In the 14 years since, the issue evolved into an effort to define accessibility on federal lands. The new rule and technical specifications document covers accessible trails and related facilities in great detail. It’s called “Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Guidelines; Outdoor Developed Areas.” Future rulemaking will be needed for the guidelines to...

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When greenways go brown

When flood PLAIN turns into flood WAY, trails are in trouble. The recent floods in Colorado remind us that our stream-side corridors are vulnerable. Yet in our urban and suburban areas, trails along rivers are the most popular pathways. How do we balance the cost and value of our greenways when they’re covered in brown mud? It’s clear that manufactured steel bridges can take a direct hit and still survive intact. They may have to be retrieved from some distance downstream, however. How about trail surfaces? Crushed rock is extremely erodible, and asphalt is also susceptible to running water...

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American Trails strives to enrich the quality of life for all people and the sustainable development of communities by advancing and promoting the development, preservation, and enjoyment of diverse, high quality trails and greenways. Learn more at

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