Section 508 Navigation
American Trails header Skip Navigation
HomeAbout usTrailsWhat's hotCalendarTrainingResources & libraryPartnersJoin usStore

Trail quotations

Quotations from the trails and greenways (part 4)

Contact the editor if you have a trail-related quotation to add to this document

Compiled and edited by Jim Schmid

Many of the quotes provided here were compiled for and published in Trail Quotes: From Advocacy to Wilderness, 2001, Jim Schmid, editor, South Carollina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Columbia, SC.

Many publications and conference presentations use quotations to add interest and to emphasize the importance of trails and greenways. By sharing the quotes collected by Jim Schmid, we hope that you might find just the right quotation for your publication or presentation, or you just might enjoy reading them on their own. The quotes are arranged loosely according to subject matter.

Any copyrighted material on these pages is used under "fair use" for the purpose of study and review. A thorough effort was made to clear any necessary reprint permissions. Any required acknowledgement omitted is unintentional.


AdvocacyConstructionMotivationalPaddling SportsSlogans
BackpackingDefinitionsMountain BikingPartnershipsSongs
BenefitsEquestrianNational ForestsPhilosophyTransportation
BicyclingFitnessNational ReportsPlanningTravel
Bumper StickersFundingNational Trails SystemPoetryUrban Trails
ClassicsGreenwaysNative AmericanPoliticiansVision
Conference ThemesHikingNatureProverbsVolunteers
Conflict ResolutionHumorOff-Highway VehiclesRails-to-TrailsWalkable Communities
ConnectionsLong Distance TrailsOpen SpaceRiversWalking
ConservationMaintenanceOutdoor EthicsSafetyWilderness

Paddling Sports

Rule One: Never do a fool thing like paddle a river without first scouting it.
Rule Two: Never do a fool thing like paddle a river you have never scouted, if it's about to get dark. –BENJAMIN LONG, Backtracking, 2000

The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores…. There is magic in the feel of a paddle and the movement of a canoe, a magic compounded of distance, adventure, solitude, and peace. The way of a canoe is the way of the wilderness, and of a freedom almost forgotten. It is an antidote to insecurity, the open door to waterways of ages past and a way of life with profound and abiding satisfactions. When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known. –SIGURD F. OLSON, The Singing Wilderness, 1956

Boats are for work; canoes are for pleasure. Boats are artificial; canoes are natural. –JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY (1844—90), Canoeing on the Connecticut, Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport, 1890

The Lord knows what we may find, dear lass, and the Deuce knows what we may do–but we're back once more on the old trail; our own trail, the out trail; we're down, hull down, on the long trail–the trail that is always new. –RUDYARD KIPLING, English author, 1865—1936

As one goes through life, one learns that if you don't paddle your own canoe, you don't move. – KATHARINE HEPBURN, US actress, 1894-1979

The canoe is the American boat of the past and of the future. It suits the American mind: it is light, swift, safe, graceful, easily moved; and the occupant looks in the direction he is going, instead of behind, as in the stupid old tubs that have held the world up to this time. –JOHN BOYLE O'REILLY (1844—90), Canoeing on the Connecticut, Ethics of Boxing and Manly Sport, 1890


The A.T. [Appalachian Trail] has shown that greenways, like dreams, can become reality, but only if people are willing to work for them. Government agencies alone can't create or manage the full scale of new facilities that the public demands, so the public must start building them itself. Recreational opportunities come with a price: those who wish to enjoy them must be ready to accept the challenge to volunteer their time and energy to cooperate with other recreationists, agencies, and fellow citizens. –JOSEPH KEYSER, The AT; Trailblazing for Tomorrow, American Forests, Sept/Oct 1988

Partnerships with volunteer organizations offer the agency the advantage of cost savings on recruiting, training and supervising volunteers. Also, volunteer organizations provide continuity year after year. This arrangement offers the volunteers an identity and satisfaction of being able to ‘own' meaningful responsibilities rather than simply perform disjointed tasks. The volunteer group does, though, need to earn the respect and trust of the agency by running successful programs and managing the continuity of service. –NELSON OBUS, ROGER MOORE, and THOMAS MARTORELLI, Partnerships for Public Lands, Appalachia, number 182, 1986

The success or failure of any long distance trail system depends on the strength and sheer numbers of individuals and organizations involved. –ROB WEBER, Cumberland Trail State Park: Acquisition and Development Plan, 1999

Successful greenways grow out of the grassroots. They depend on local enthusiasm, local money, local leaders, local priorities, local agreements and local governments. They depend on highly motivated volunteers including individuals, groups and businesses. They are dependent, in short, on a strong sense of community responsibility and on the willingness of each community to link its destiny to that of its neighbors. –DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1996

Role of the Federal Government: 1) To develop additional trails on Federal lands, especially in or near urban areas. 2) To work with states and local agencies in their planning of trail programs. 3) To encourage local leadership, both public and private. 4) To help local agencies obtain financial assistance to acquire the necessary land. –USDI BUREAU of OUTDOOR RECREATION, Trails for America: Report on the Nationwide Trails Study, 1966

The federal [trails] role must evolve along these lines:
1. Working with private groups to bring together clubs, groups, and individuals into compact, influence-wielding confederations;
2. Serving as a clearing house for the latest in trail-planning information, with more ambitious contributions of their trail expertise to citizen groups;
3. Financial assistance for establishing trails, including acquisition and development costs.
–G. DOUGLAS HOFE, American Trails—Rediscovered, Parks & Recreation, March 1971

Our success depends on the collaborative efforts of volunteers, agencies, and communities working to close the gaps. –BARBARA RICE, Bay Area Ridge Trail Council, 1993

Successful partnerships are ‘win-win' situations that require give-and-take from all involved…. Partnerships are often fairly easy to establish, but require on-going support and involvement to sustain…. Because forming partnerships can be frustrating, especially in the early stages, successes need to be planned early on as a reward for the time and effort invested. –KATE KITCHELL & JOE DRAAYENBRINK, Power of Partnerships Handbook, 1992

It seems logical that the people who want trails, will use trails, and who live near trails … should have the opportunity to take part in the planning and management of these trails. This idea is central to the Ridge Trail Council's philosophy–involvement of the community, building support and stewardship, and establishing a strong and continuing caretaking ethic. –BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL COUNCIL, Community Trail Planning Workshops: A Training Handbook, 1991

All trails work is a partnership. Without vibrant nonprofit organizations, supportive state programs, and the assistance and recognition of local communities, it is almost impossible to bring these trails forward as real places to visit and experience. –STEVE ELKINTON, CRM and the National Trails System, CRM, 20(1), 1997


Spend the afternoon. You can't take it with you. –ANNIE DILLARD, US author, 1945-

Why do you climb philosophical hills? Because they are worth climbing…. There are not hills to go down unless you start from the top. –MARGARET THATCHER, British politician, 1925-

One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things. –HENRY MILLER, American author 1891-1980

According to quantum mechanics there is no such thing as objectivity. We cannot eliminate ourselves from the picture. We are part of nature, and when we study nature there is no way around the fact that nature is studying itself. –GARY ZUKAV, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics, 1979

Any path is only a path, and there is not affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you. –CARLOS CASTANEDA, The Teachings of Don Juan, 1969

The pleasure is in the path, the search for something good… –HUNTER S. THOMPSON, US journalist and writer, 1939-

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. –ANNIE DILLARD, US author, 1945-

People say what we're all seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will resonate within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. –JOSEPH CAMPBELL, US authority on mythology, 1904-87

We walk alone in the world. Friends, such as we desire, are dreams and fables. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82

Life is just a short walk from the cradle to the grave–and it sure behooves us to be kind to one another along the way. –ALICE CHILDRESS, US playwright, actress, director, 1920-94

My philosophy is to think for myself. My goal is my own enjoyment in the wilderness, and that's based on reality as I find it. No one else can live my life for me, or for you. In the end, you can't worry about what other people think, you've just got to do what you feel is right. –RAY JARDINE, go-light backpacking advocate, 1948-

In the school of the woods, there is no graduation day. –HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of the wolf. –ALDO LEOPOLD, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

…trail dust is thicker'n blood…. –LOUIS L'AMOUR, The Daybreakers, Western writer, 1908—88

Living a life is much like climbing mountains–the summits are always further off than you think, but when a man has a goal, he always feels he's working toward something. –LOUIS L'AMOUR, The Lonely Man, Western writer, 1908—88

Take the gentle path. –GEORGE HERBERT, English clergyman and poet, 1593-1633

There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot. –ALDO LEOPOLD, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

I am very blessed. The Valley is full of people, but they do not annoy me. I revolve in pathless places and in higher rocks than the world and his ribbony wife can reach. –JOHN MUIR, To Yosemite and Beyond; Writings from the Years 1863-75

I wonder whether there isn't something deep in our psyche about trails? People like that sense of going somewhere, of seeing the world go by, seeing different places as they go along, even if it's just going for a stroll in the evening. –STUART MACDONALD, Colorado State Trails Coordinator, 1989

The health of the eye demands a horizon. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82

All paths lead nowhere, so it is important to choose a path that has heart. –CARLOS CASTANEDA, The Teachings of Don Juan, 1969

Mountain should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow. –ROBERT PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, 1974

If you don't know where you are, you don't know who you are. –WALLACE STEGNER, US environmental writer, 1909—93

A civilization which destroys what little remains of the wild, the spare, the original, is cutting itself off from its origins and betraying the principle of civilization itself. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89

I care to live, only to entice people to look at nature's liveliness. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

.…followers of trails and of seasons, breakers of camp in the little dawn wind, seekers of watercourses over the wrinkled rind of the world, o seekers, o finders of reasons to be up and be gone…. SAINT-JOHN PERSE, (pseudonym for Alexis Saint-Legér Legér), French writer and poet, 1887—1975

We are born wanderers, followers of obscure trails, or blazers of new ones. The mind, too, is a natural wanderer, ever seeking, and occasionally discovering, new ideas, fresh insights. –ROYAL ROBBINS, US climber and retailer, 1935—

The tops of mountains are among the unfinished parts of the globe, whither it is a slight insult to the gods to climb and pry into their secrets, and try their effects on our humanity. Only daring and insolent men, perchance, go there. Simple races, as savages, do not climb mountains–their tops are sacred and mysterious tracts never visited by them [on his climb of Katahdin, Maine]. –HENRY DAVID THOREAU, US writer and naturalist, 1817—62

To have his path made clear for him is the aspiration of every human being in our beclouded and tempestuous existence. –JOSEPH CONRAD, The Mirror of the Sea, 1906

Books are but steeping stones to show you where other minds have been. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82


The Metropolitan invasion … is spreading, unthinking, ruthless. Its substance consists of tenements, bungalows, stores, factories, billboards, filling-stations, eating-stands, and other structures whose individual hideousness and collective haphazardness present that unmistakable environment which we call the "slum." Not the slum of poverty, but the slum of commerce. –BENTON MACKAYE, The New Exploration, 1928

The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. –STEPHEN R. COVEY, Living the Seven Habits, 1992

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don't know what harbor you're aiming for, no wind is the right wind. –SENECA, Roman statesman, 4 BC—65 AD

The future belongs to those who prepare for it. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do. – ELBERT HUBBARD, US author and editor, 1856-1915

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. –GLORIA STEINEM, US feminist, 1934-

It's not just sitting on a remote summit that matters. It's how hard it was to get there. It's the fact that you got there on your own power, testing your knowledge and experience of the woods trails, your judgment, your physical condition, and most of all your drive and desire to overcome the difficulties. – LAURA and GUY WATERMAN, Backwoods Ethics, 1979

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89

Plan your work today and every day, then work your plan. –NORMAN VINCENT PEALE, US author and clergyman, 1898-1993

If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting. –STEPHEN R. COVEY, US leadership and success consultant, 1932-

Intentions compressed into words enfold magical power. –DEEPAK CHOPRA, US (Indian-born) holistic healing advocate, 1947-

A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. –GEORGE S. PATTON, US Army General, 1885—1945

Trails and parks are as necessary to communities as roads, sewer systems and utility grids. –PETER HARNICK, Converting Rails to Trails, 1989

We need information, we need sources of information, we need a bibliography of printed [trails] material that is out today. –PHIL LAVELY, Fourth National Trails Symposium, 1977

The user doesn't need trails. The land does. –JIM ANGELL, Western Trailbuilder, 1992

Parks do to the landscape what museums do to painting and sculpture. They embalm it. They tend to elevate us on weekends and holidays rather than enriching our everyday life. –PETER BLAKE, God's Own Junkyard: The Planned Deterioration of America's Landscape, 1964

Too often the number of participants has been our only criteria for evaluation. We count numbers–and after a while only numbers count. –CLAYNE JENSEN, Outdoor Recreation in America, 1985

The three ingredients: plans, action, and money are essential to the success of any trails program. – G. DOUGLAS HOFE, American Trails—Rediscovered, Parks & Recreation, March 1971

Some environmentalists and planners are suggesting a note of caution on the development of trails. Perhaps we need fewer but better planned trails. And trail layout and construction, it is now generally agreed, is not something for the general amateur but serious business. A trail once constructed is difficult to obliterate. Trail planning and layout, therefore, is something for the professional. –JOSEPH J. SHOMAN, Director, Nature Center Planning Division, National Audubon Society, 1971

Begin with the end in mind. –STEPHEN R. COVEY, US leadership and success consultant, 1932-

But how were these trails made?… According to one writer, ‘The deer were first; then the elk followed the deer; the buffalo followed the elk; the Indian followed the buffalo; trappers then; then army officers came along and discovered a pass.' –MATHILDE EDITH HOLTZ and KATHARINE ISABEL BEMIS, Glacier National Park: Its Trails and Treasures, 1917)

Plans get you into things but you got to work your way out. –WILL ROGERS, The Autobiography of Will Rogers, 1949


Sunday the only day we don't work:
Mules farting around the meadow, Murphy fishing.
The tent flaps in the warm
Early sun: I've eaten breakfast and I'll take a walk
To Benson Lake. Packed a lunch, Goodbye.
Hopping on creekbed boulders
Up the rock throat three miles Piute Creek–
In steep gorge glacier-slick rattlesnake country Jump, land by a pool, trout skitter,
The clear sky.
Deer tracks.
Bad place by a falls, boulders big as houses,
Lunch tied to belt, I stemmed up a crack and almost fell
But rolled out safe on a ledge and ambled on.
Quail chicks freeze underfoot, color of stone
Then run cheep! away, hen quail fussing.
Craggy west end of Benson Lake–after edging
Past dark creek pools on a long white slope–
Look down in the ice-black lake lined with cliff
From far above: deep shimmering trout.
A lone duck in a gunsightpass steep side hill through slide-aspen and talus, to the east end, down to grass, wading a wide smooth stream into camp.
At last.
By the rusty three-year-ago left-behind cookstove
Of the old trail crew,
Stoppt and swam and ate my lunch.
–GARY SNYDER, A Walk, 1965

The man who sold his lawn to standard oil
Joked with his neighbors come to watch the show
While the bulldozers, drunk with gasoline,
Tested the virtue of the soil
Under the branchy sky
By overthrowing first the privet-row.
Forsythia-forays and hydrangea-raids
Were but preliminaries to a war
Against the great-grandfathers of the town,
So freshly lopped and maimed.
They struck and struck again,
And with each elm a century went down.
All day the hireling engines charged the trees,
Subverting them by hacking underground
In grub-dominions, where dark summer's mole
Rampages through his halls,
Till a northern seizure shook
Those crowns, forcing the giants to their knees.
I saw the ghosts of children at their games
Racing beyond their childhood in the shade,
And while the green world turned its death-foxed page
And a red wagon wheeled, I watched them disappear
Into the suburbs of their grievous age.
Ripped from the craters much too big for hearts
The club-roots bared their amputated coils,
Raw gorgons matted blind, whose pocks are scars
Cried Moon! on a corner lot
One witness-moment, caught In the rear-view mirrors of the passing cars.
–STANLEY KUNITZ, The War Against the Trees, 1944

Running along a bank, a parapet
That saves from the precipitous wood below
The level road, there is a path. It serves
Children for looking down the long smooth steep,
Between the legs of beech and yew, to where
A fallen tree checks the sight: while men and women
Content themselves with the road and what they see
Over the bank, and what the children tell.
The path, winding like silver, trickles on,
Bordered and even invaded by thinnest moss
That tries to cover roots and crumbling chalk
With gold, olive, and emerald, but in vain.
The children wear it. They have flattened the bank
On top, and silvered it between the moss
With the current of their feet, year after year.
But the road is houseless, and leads not to school.
To see a child is rare there, and the eye
Has but the road, the wood that overhangs
And underyawns it, and the path that looks
As if it led on the some legendary
Or fancied place where men have wished to go
And stay; till, sudden, it ends where the wood ends.
–EDWARD THOMAS, The Path, 1917

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
–ROBERT FROST, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, 1923

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
'Twas my forefather's hand
That placed it near his cot;
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not!
That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea,
And wouldst thou hew it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth-bound ties;
O, spare that aged oak,
Now towering to the skies!
When but an idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here too my sisters played.
My mother kissed me here;
My father pressed my hand–
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand!
My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I've a hand to save,
The axe shall hurt it not.
–GEORGE PERKINS MORRIS, Woodman, Spare That Tree, 1830

Matter, of this is the cosmos, sun, earth and life made
Sun, shine that we may live.
Earth–home Oceans–ancient home
Atmosphere, protect and sustain us
Clouds, rain, rivers and streams, replenish us from the sea
Plants–live and breathe that we may breathe, eat and live
Animals, kin.
Decomposers, reconstitute the wastes of life and death so that life may endure.
Man, seek the path of benign planetary enzyme, aspire to be the world's physician.
Heal the earth and thyself.
–IAN MCHARG, Design With Nature, 25th Anniversary Edition, 1992

There is no land discovered,
That can't be found anew.
So travel on intrepid,
Into the hazy blue.
And as you seek your fortune,
And near your lifelong quest.
There'll still be countless peaks to climb,
Before your final rest.

God, give me hills to climb, And strength for climbing!

Come into the mountains, dear friend
Leave society and take no one with you
But your true self Get close to nature
Your everyday games will be insignificant
Notice the clouds spontaneously forming patterns
And try to do that with your life.
–SUSAN POLIS SCHUTZ, US writer and poet, 1944-

I've decided to make up my mind
about nothing, to assume the water mask,
to finish my life disguised as a creek,
an eddy, joining at night the full,
sweet flow, to absorb the sky,
to swallow the heat and cold, the moon
and stars, to swallow myself
in ceaseless flow.
–JIM HARRISON, Cabin Poem, in The Theory and Practice of Rivers, 1989

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let nature be your teacher.
–WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, The Tables Turned, 1798

Voyage upon life's sea
To yourself be true,
And whatever your lot may be,
Paddle your own canoe.
–SARAH KNOWLES BOLTON, Paddle Your Own Canoe, in Harper's Magazine, May 1854

When you feel how depressingly slowly you climb it's well to remember Things Take Time
–PIET HEIN, T.T.T., Grooks, 1966

The flowers bloom, the songbirds sing, and though it be sun or rain,
I walk the mountaintops with spring from Georgia north to Maine.
–EARL SHAFFER, first uninterrupted solo-hike of the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, 1948

Go forth, under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings,…
–WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT, from Thanatopsis, 1821

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall
I'll never see a tree at all.
–OGDEN NASH, Song of the Open Road, Verses from 1929 On, 1959

Now Talking God with your feet I walk
I walk with your limbs I carry forth your body
For me your mind thinks your voice speaks for me
Beauty is before me and beauty if behind me
Above and below me hovers the beautiful
I am surrounded by it I am immersed in it
In my youth I am aware of it
And in old age I shall walk quietly
The beautiful trail.
–Diné Prayer, in Earth Prayers, edited by ELIZABETH ROBERTS & ELIAS AMIDON, 1991

Embark upon this hallowed trail
Prepare the fabric of your life
While some will make it, most will fail
But all will know both joy and strife
Joy of friendship and challenge met
Strife in hardships to endure
And guaranteed you will think yet
Through much of what you're hiking for
Consider this from one who's done
Before you move on down this path
For every three days in the sun
You'll taste a day of nature's wrath
When pain rears up its ugly head
You have to walk your way right through
Adventures always lie ahead
Each day is altogether new
But no amount of words can tell
Or ever manage to convince
How once you've hiked the whole A.T. [Appalachian Trail]
You live your life with confidence.
–DON HIRSOHN, The Poetry Man, To Future Classes, 1986

It's little I care what path I take,
And where it leads it's little I care;…
I wish I could walk for a day and a night,
And find me at dawn in a desolate place
With never the rut of a road in sight,
Nor the roof of a house, nor the eyes of a face.
–EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY, Departure, Collected Poems, 1923

I like a road that wanders; the King's Highway is fair,
And lovely are the sheltered lanes that take you here and there;
But best of all I love a trail that leads to God knows where.
–CHARLES HANSON TOWNE, US writer & educator, 1877—1949

I come from haunts of coot and heron:
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.
By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.
Till last by Philip's farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying hays,
I babble on the pebbles.
With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.
I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,
And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,
And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
I steal by lawns and grassy lots:
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.
I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows;
I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my creases;
And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river;
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on forever.
–ALFRED LORD TENNYSON, The Brook, Maud and Other Poems, 1855

Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.

Traveler, your footsteps are the path, and nothing else;
traveler, there is no path, a path is made by walking.
Walking makes the path, and on looking back
We see a trail that never can be walked again.
Traveler, there is no path,
Only a wake in the sea.
–ANTONIO MACHADO, Proverbios y Cantares, 1964

We shall not cease from exploration,
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
, English (US-born) poet, 1888-1965

When you come to where the trail ends and
stones begin to be placed one upon the other
crowding into a wall that splits the land, and
stumps break the elegant curve of birch angling to the emptiness,
when a light mist turns to cold drenching rain and
you crawl into your own sense of outside:
do you walk into the cleared field expecting no worse than a gentle admonishing
that your muddy tracks have disturbed the rows of seed
waiting to join the inevitable harvest,
do you draw back and fold those earlier steps into a neat deck of snapshots
certain to please the vicarious roamer
emptying your blood on the path even as you struggle to alert him of your intimate presence,
or do you draw open your hood to the icy rain,
laugh at believing in anything other than the cold wet soft murmur of rills
threading the shadowy edge of forest,
and turn again to the darkening trail as a child to the wind of night.
, When You Come to Where the Trail Ends, in Mountain Passages: An Appalachia Anthology, edited by Robert Manning, 1982

It took that pause to make him realize
The mountain he was climbing had the slant
As of a book held up before his eyes
(And was a text albeit done in plant).
–ROBERT FROST, Time Out, 1942

Trails are not dust and pebbles on a hill,
Nor even grass and wild buds by a lake;
Trails are adventure and a hand to still
The restless pulse of life when men would break
Their minds with weight of thinking.
Trails are peace, The call to dreams, the challenge to ascent;
Trails are the brisk unfolding of release
From bitterness and from discouragement.
Trails are the random writing on the wall
That tells how every man, grown tired at heart
Of things correct and ordered, comes to scrawl
His happy hour down—then goes to start
Life over with new eagerness and zest.
Who builds a trail finds labor that is rest!
–HELEN FRAZEE-BOWER, US poet, 1896-2000, Trails

If you'll go with me to the mountains
And sleep on the leaf carpeted floors
And enjoy the bigness of nature
And the beauty of all out-of-doors,
You will find your troubles all fading
And feel the Creator was not man
That made lovely mountains and forests
Which only a Supreme Power can.
When we trust in the Power above
And with the realm of nature hold fast,
We will have a jewel of great price
To brighten our lives till the last.
For the love of nature is healing,
If we will only give it a try
And our reward will be forthcoming,
If we go deeper than what meets the eye.
–EMMA "GRANDMA" GATEWOOD, at age 67 first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (1955), 1887—1973, The Reward of Nature

Afoot and light hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
Henceforth, I ask not good fortune, I myself am good fortune.
Henceforth, I whimper no more, postpone no more, I need nothing.
I'm done with indoor complaints, libraries, and querulous criticisms.
Strong and content I travel the open road.
The earth, that is sufficient, I do not want the constellations any nearer,
I know they are very well where they are, I know they suffice for those who belong to them.
(Still here I carry my old delicious burdens, I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go, I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them, I am fill'd with them, and will fill them in return.)
You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
I believe that much unseen is also here.
–WALT WHITMAN, Song of the Open Road, Leaves of Grass, 1855

There's a long, long trail a-winding
Into the land of my dreams,
Where the nightingales are singing
And a white moon beams;
There's a long, long night of waiting
Until my dreams all come true,
Till the day when I'll be going down that
Long, long trail with you
–STODDARD KING and ZO ELLIOT, The Long, Long Trail, 1913

Weep, all ye little rains
Wail, winds, wail,
All along, along, along The Colorado Trail.
–CARL SANDBURG, The Colorado Trail, The American Songbag, 1927

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain,
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
–JOYCE KILMER, Trees, in Trees and Other Poems, 1914

What do you suppose will satisfy the soul, except to walk?
free and own no superior?
–WALT WHITMAN, from Laws for Creations, 1860

Woodman, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough!
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now.
–GEORGE POPE MORRIS, Woodman, Spare That Tree, 1830

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
–ROBERT FROST, The Road Not Taken, in Mountain Interval, 1916

Ye who know the Lone Trail fain would follow it,
Through it lead to glory or the darkness of the pit.
Ye who take the Lone Trail, bid your love good-bye;
The Lone Trail, the Lone Trail follow till you die.
The trails of the world be countless, and most of the trails be tried;
You tread on the heels of the many, till you come where the ways divide;
And one lies safe in the sunlight, and the other is dreary and wan,
Yet you look aslant at the Lone Trail, and the Lone Trail lures you on.
And somehow you're sick of the highway, with its noise and its easy needs,
And sometimes it leads to the desert, and the tongue swells out of the mouth,
And you stagger blind to the mirage, to die in the mocking drought.
And sometimes it leads to the mountain, to the light of the lone camp-fire,
And you gnaw your belt in the anguish of hunger-goaded desire.
And sometimes it leads to the Southland, to the swamp where the orchid glows,
And you rave to your grave with the fever, and they rob the corpse for its clothes.
And sometimes it leads to the Northland, and the scurvy softens your bones,
And your flesh dints in like putty, and you spit out your teeth like stones.
And sometimes it leads to a coral reef in the wash of a weedy sea,
And you sit and stare at the empty glare where the gulls wait greedily.
And sometimes it leads to an Arctic trail, and the snows where your torn feet freeze,
And you whittle away the useless clay, and crawl on your hands and knees.
Often it leads to the dead-pit; always it leads to pain;
By the bones of your brothers ye know it, but oh, to follow you're fain.
By your bones they will follow behind you, till the ways of the world are made plain.
Bid good-by to sweetheart, bid good-by to friend;
The Lone Trail, the Lone Trail follow to the end.
Tarry not, and fear not, chosen of the true;
Lover of the Lone Trail, the Lone Trail waits for you.
, The Lone Trail, 1907

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is a society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
Form these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet can not all conceal.
–GEORGE GORDON (LORD) BYRON, Apostrophe to the Ocean, in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, 1817

When despair for the world grows in me and
I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief.
I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light.
For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
, The Peace of Wild Things, in Openings, 1968-

We had learned the Appalachian Trail parallels life.
It has peaks and valleys, joys and sorrows, exhilarating times and ordinary times, sunshine and rain, laughter and tears, healing and pain, and, as in life, the trail has a beginning and an end.
Likewise, the end is a new beginning.
, Katahdin with Love: An Inspirational Journey, 1991

Whoso walks in solitude,
And inhabiteth the wood,
Choosing light, wave, rock, and bird
Before the money-loving herd,
Into that forester shall pass,
From these companions, power and grace.
, Wood-notes, 1847

I am one of you no longer; by the trails my feet have broken,
The dizzy peaks I've scaled, the camp-fire's glow;
By the lonely seas I've sailed in–
yea, the final word is spoken,
I am signed and sealed to nature. Be it so.
–ROBERT SERVICE, from The Rhyme of the Remittance Man, 1921


Towering genius distains a beaten path. –ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Sixteenth US President (1861—65), 1809—65

I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards. –ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Sixteenth US President (1861—65), 1809—65

The pay is good and I can walk to work. –JOHN F. KENNEDY, on becoming President, Thirty-fifth US President (1961—63), 1917—63

City parks serve, day in and day out, as the primary green spaces for the majority of Americans. – BRUCE BABBITT, Interior Secretary, 2000

I think politicians sometimes badly underestimate the true feelings that Americans have for the land. – MORRIS UDALL, Senator from Utah, 1987

I am one of those people who deeply resents not having been born in the 19th century, when there were still open places to explore. –BRUCE BABBITT, former Governor of Arizona, quoted in Los Angles Times, March 3, 1987

We travel together, passengers on a little space ship, dependent on its vulnerable reserves of air and soil; all committed for our safety to its security and peace; preserved from annihilation only by the care, the work, and, I will say, the love we give our fragile craft. –ADLAI STEVENSON, US political leader, 1900—65

Trails are relatively inexpensive. A splendid national network of all kinds of trails can be established at less cost than a few hundred miles of super highway. –GAYLORD NELSON, Senator from Wisconsin, 1969

Like the railroads that brought us together in the 19th century, these trails will bring us together in the 20th and 21st centuries. –FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON at launch of the National Millennium Trails Program, 1999

Many of the green places and open spaces that need protecting most today are in our own neighborhoods. In too many places, the beauty of local vistas has been degraded by decades of ill-planned and ill-coordinated development. –VICE PRESIDENT ALBERT GORE, January 12, 1999

I think a current understanding about urban behavior tells us that it's important that people get out and be able to get away from the concrete jungles and the dense environment where they live for their own mental well-being. If they don't do this, the costs in human loss and human sickness will be far greater than what we would be expending for these kinds of releases and open spaces. –BARRY GOLDWATER, Senator from Arizona, testimony, US House Interior subcommittee, March 20, 1981

Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment nothing can fail, but without it, nothing can succeed. –ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Sixteenth US President (1861—65), 1809—65

Millennium Trails will be very tangible gifts to the future. We will walk on them and hike on them and bike on them. They will be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. But in a very important way they represent more than the tangible effect of the trail. They represent a commitment and an investment in what kind of country we want in the next century. –FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON at launch of the National Millennium Trails Program, 1999

We must think nationally about the [trails] system and act locally to link trails and make the system happen. –BRUCE F. VENTO, Senator from Minnesota, 1998

I've been through legislation creating a dozen national parks, and there's always the same pattern. When you first propose a park, and you visit the area and present the case to the local people, they threaten to hang you. You go back in five years and they think it's the greatest thing that ever happened. –MORRIS UDALL, Too Funny to Be President, 1988

Far and away the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. – THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Twenty-sixth US President (1901—09), 1858—1919

The fact that we live in a world that moves crisis by crisis does not make a growing interest in outdoor activities frivolous, or ample provision for them unworthy of the nation's concern. –JOHN F. KENNEDY, Thirty-fifth US President (1961—63), 1917—63

Admittedly, we must move ahead with the development of our land resources. Likewise, our technology must be refined. But in the long run life will succeed only in a life-giving environment, and we can no longer afford unnecessary sacrifices of living space and natural landscape to ‘progress.' –STEWART UDALL, Secretary of Interior (1961—69), 1920-

There is delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell of the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. –THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Twenty-sixth US President (1901—09), 1858—1919

The forgotten outdoorsmen of today are those who like to walk, hike, ride horseback, or bicycle. For them we must have trails as well as highways. Nor should automobiles be permitted to tyrannize the more leisurely human traffic.

Old and youth alike can participate. Our doctors recommend and encourage such activity for fitness and fun.

I am requesting, therefore, that the Secretary of the Interior work with his colleagues in the Federal Government and with state and local leaders and recommend to me a cooperative program to encourage a national system of trails, building up the more than 100,000 miles of trails in our national forests and parks.

There are many new and exciting trail projects underway across the land. In Arizona, a county has arranged for miles of irrigation canal banks to be used by riders and hikers. In Illinois, an abandoned railroad right-of-way is being developed as a prairie path. In New Mexico, utility rights-of-way are used as public trails.

As with so much of our quest for beauty and quality, each community has opportunities for action. We can and should have an abundance of trails for walking, cycling, and horseback riding, in and close to our cities. In the back county we need to copy the great Appalachian Trail in all parts of America and to make full use of rights-of-way and other public paths. –PRESIDENT LYNDON B. JOHNSON, National Beauty Message, White House Conference on Natural Beauty, February 8, 1965

Hiking trails provide the entire American family with perhaps the most economical, most varied form of outdoor recreation. So this new law (The National Trails System Act of 1968) gives us a much needed opportunity to preserve and more widely enjoy many significant parts of our country's natural heritage….

The goal is to provide all of us, no matter where we live, with easy access to a wide variety of trails suited to our tastes and needs–whether we are grandparents on a Sunday stroll, kids on bikes or horseback, or veteran hikers. –GAYLORD NELSON, Senator from Wisconsin, 1969

Each generation has its own rendezvous with the land, for despite our fee titles and claims of ownership, we are all brief tenants on this planet. By choice, or by default, we will carve out a land legacy for our heirs. We can misuse the land and diminish the usefulness of resources, or we can create a world in which physical affluence and affluence of the spirit go hand in hand. –STEWART UDALL, The Quiet Crisis and the Next Generation, 1963

….I heartily commend all those who have worked so hard to make this dream a reality. Eventually your work will lead to a trail system spanning from coast to coast that will not only provide wonderful recreational opportunities for countless American's but also help to preserve our nation's precious natural resources…. –PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH, National Trails Day, June 3, 1992

Few of us can hope to leave a work of art, or a poem, to posterity; but together–if we act before it is too late–we can set aside a few more great parks, and round out our system of refuges for wildlife. Or, working at other levels, we can reserve a marsh or meadow, or an avenue of open space as a green legacy for other generations. By a series of such acts of conservation we can do much to save what Thomas Jefferson called the ‘face and character' of our country. If we do this, surely those who follow, whether or not our names survive, will remember and praise our vision and our works. –STEWART UDALL, Secretary of Interior (1961—69), 1920-


Flowing water never goes bad. –CHINESE PROVERB

If there is no wind, row. –LATIN PROVERB

If two ride a horse, one must ride behind. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Don't give others what they don't want. –JAPANESE PROVERB

He travels fastest who travels alone. –ENGLISH PROVERB

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem –ENGLISH PROVERB

If you don't make mistakes you don't make anything. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Hasty climbers have sudden falls. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Adventures are to the adventurous. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Of all strategies, to know when to quit may be the best. –CHINESE PROVERB

You can't be lost, if you don't care where you are. –DUTCH CARIBBEAN PROVERB

It's not so much where you are as which way you are going. –US PROVERB

The obstacle is the path. –ZEN PROVERB

Better to ask twice than to lose your way once. –DANISH PROVERB

The beaten path is the safest. –LATIN PROVERB

A fool and water will go the way they are diverted. –ETHIOPIAN PROVERB

On an unknown path every foot is slow. –US PROVERB

The man who walks takes title to the world around him. –US PROVERB

The beginning of wisdom is calling things by their right names. –CHINESE PROVERB

Beginning is easy–continuing is hard. –JAPANESE PROVERB

Before supper walk a little; after supper do the same. –LATIN PROVERB

I dreamed a thousand new paths. I woke and walked my old one. –CHINESE PROVERB

One step at a time is good walking. –CHINESE PROVERB

He who treads softly goes far. –CHINESE PROVERB

Do not follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. –ASHANTI PROVERB

It is better to lose the saddle than the horse. –ITALIAN PROVERB

If you take big paces you leave big spaces. –BURMESE PROVERB

Walking makes for a long life. –HINDU PROVERB

It is a long lane that has no turning. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness. –OLD PROVERB

The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones. –CHINESE PROVERB

Those who are absent are always wrong. –ENGLISH PROVERB

When you reach the top, keep climbing. –ZEN PROVERB

On a long journey even a straw weighs heavy. –SPANISH PROVERB

It is better to travel alone than with a bad companion. –SENEGALESE PROVERB

Better to turn back than to lose your way. –RUSSIAN PROVERB

Po buckra an dog walk one pat [The poor man and the dog walk the same path]. –GULLAH PROVERB (dialect heard in the lowcountry of South Carolina)

Act quickly, think slowly. -GREEK PROVERB

It is better to wear out one's shoes than one's sheets. –GENOESE PROVERB

Who begins too much accomplishes little. –GERMAN PROVERB

When you drink the water, remember the spring. –CHINESE PROVERB

A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will. –SPANISH PROVERB

The day on which one starts out is not the time to start one's preparations. –NIGERIAN PROVERB

Every path has its puddle. –ENGLISH PROVERB

Set a stout heart to a steep hillside. –SCOTTISH PROVERB

Walk till the blood appears on the cheek, but not the sweat on the brow. –SPANISH PROVERB

It is solved by walking. –LATIN PROVERB

Standing is still going. –SWAHILI PROVERB

Do not look to the ground for your next step; greatness lies with those who look to the horizon. – NORWEGIAN PROVERB

Work is good, provided you do not forget to live. –BANTU PROVERB

What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I know. –CHINESE PROVERB

Tell me, I'll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I'll understand. –CHINESE PROVERB

We have not inherited the world from our forefathers–we have borrowed it from our children. – KASHMIRI PROVERB

What is the use of running when we are not on the right road? –GERMAN PROVERB


Most rail-trails are the result of a cooperative effort between an active citizen group, a responsive public agency, and a supportive community all of who share a vision for the trail. –SUSAN DOHERTY, Rail-Trails and Community Sentiment, 1998

This is one of those ideas that you sit down and ask yourself. ‘Why didn't we think of this before?' Here we have a resource [abandoned railroad rights-of-way] that is not being used, thousands of miles of scenic real estate suitable for hiking, biking, and all of the rest for no cost…. We can give them what amounts to a huge injection of excellence in the system of national trails. –MORRIS UDALL, Senator from Utah, 1988

Converting an abandoned rail corridor into a trail is not always an easy task, but it is one whose rewards to your community and region will continue far into the future. –PETER HARNICK, Converting Rails to Trails, 1989

Once people have access to a rail-trail, it tends to get used, whether for recreation, commuting, or providing a safe route to their friend's house. A rail-trail can attract people who otherwise may not have much contact with the natural world. –SALLY TREPANOWSKI, Rails to Trails, American Hiker, 1992

Rail-trails are a perfect means of telling community stories.… Their long and colorful history make perfect greenways. They combine that history with a respect for the environment, and recreation, and allow us to live life on a human scale maintaining contact with each other and with nature. –DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1998

Cycling is recycling, and abandonments are not abandonments. The conversion program must be considered a transportation program to preserve railroad right-of-ways for the future reactivation of rail service. Today we will have our trails, but tomorrow we will once again have our rails. –GLENN TIEDT, From Rails to Trails and Back Again: A Look at the Conversion Program, Parks & Recreation, 1980

When we first heard about the plans for the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from Waterloo to Cedar Rapids [Iowa], we were less than enthusiastic. We attended the meetings and tried to get laws passed and lawsuits initiated to stop what we felt was a real menace to our well-being. We headed up a group of farmers and took the issue to court. We fought it for a year and finally decided that it wasn't worth it and that we should negotiate.

In retrospect, it's funny, ‘cause the trail is the greatest thing going.' None of the fears have come to pass. There are perhaps 15,000 people using the trail every year. Many of them access the trail through our farm. We have formed many friendships with the trail users, and hear from them throughout the year and at Christmas. –RICK SPENCE, Farmer, Farmland News, February 1993

Towns which have rail-trails are better places to live, work, recreate and raise a family; towns without these greenways are poorer for the lack of them. –PETER HARNICK, Converting Rails to Trails, 1989

We have an opportunity to preserve a dwindling national resource [abandoned rail lines] of close-to-home open space. Let's not let it slip away. –GILBERT GROSVENOR, President, National Geographic Society, 1988

Human history and natural history are visible from trails. The old railroad routes through a town can show a lot about how the town developed, what it was like long ago. When you go through a town by bicycle on an old railroad route, the place looks very different than from the customary perspective of the car and the highway. –PETER HARNICK, Co-founder, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1987

It's truly ironic that this country spends millions of dollars each year building new trail systems while an already-established system of trail corridors along some of our most scenic vistas is melting away before our very eyes [testimony before President's Commission on Americans Outdoors]. –DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1987

Thinking back, it is a wonder there have been any rail-trail conversions at all, considering the kinds of problems the pioneer projects had to face. Even without the killers [issues], almost any rail-trail project is a huge challenge, given the large number of jurisdictions and adjoining land users any railroad right-of-way encounters in just a few miles, never mind the typical twenty- to thirty-mile length (or more) of some of the major projects. –CHARLES LITTLE, Greenways for America, 1990)

It is a rare [railroad] right-of-way which does not have an incredibly complicated legal and political history behind it, and unsnarling questions of title and jurisdiction is difficult under the best of circumstances. It takes a hard core of screwballs to see this kind of project through. –WILLIAM WHYTE, The Last Landscape, 1968

Since most of the land was donated to the railroads by the American public in the first place, we believe it should be returned to the public. –DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1988

Besides providing a high-quality, close-to-home recreational experience rail-trails 1) support wildlife, 2) protect adjacent rivers from soil runoff and other forms of pollution, 3) save historic transportation corridors, depots, and other forms of architectural and engineering features of our railroad heritage, and 4) preserve corridors for potential reconversion to rail use in the future. They help make urban areas livable and rural areas accessible.

At an average of twelve acres per mile, and with widths up to 400 feet, abandoned lines represent a million-acre resource available for many public uses, particularly trails: conservation trails for wildlife protection, nature interpretation, and open space; recreation trails for hiking, biking, walking, skiing, and horseback riding; trails for cultural interpretation and historic preservation; and access trails to rivers and to public lands for camping, hunting, and fishing. –DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1988

No single individual should be able to unravel the tapestry of railroad corridors in our nation which took generations to weave together, at the expense of the great sweat and toil of American workers. – STEWART UDALL, Former Secretary of the Interior from 1961—69 and former Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Board Member, 1998

Of the many hurdles that rails-to-trails advocates confront, the basic one is fear–fear by landowners of outsiders, fear by park managers of unexpected costs or liability, fear by politicians of trying something new. Virtually all these fears have proven groundless…. –PETER HARNICK, Converting Rails to Trails, 1989

We are human beings. We are able to walk upright on two feet. We need a footpath. Right now there is a chance for Chicago and its suburbs to have a footpath, a long one.

The right-of-way of the Aurora electric road lies waiting. If we have courage and foresight, such as made possible the Long Trail in Vermont and the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, and the network of public footpaths in Britain, then we can create from this strip a proud resource.

Look ahead some years into the future. Imagine yourself going for a walk on an autumn day. Choose some part of the famed Illinois footpath. Where the highway crosses it, you enter over a stile. The path lies ahead, curving around a hawthorn tree, then proceeding under the shade of a forest of sugar maple trees, dipping into a hollow with ferns, then skirting a thicket of wild plum, to straighten out for a long stretch of prairie, tall grass prairie, with big blue stem and blazing star and silphium and goldenrod.

You must go over a stile again, to cross a highway to another stile. This section is different. The grass is cut and garden flowers bloom in great beds. This part, you may learn, is maintained by the Chicago Horticultural Society. Beyond the garden you enter a forest again, maintained by the Morton Arboretum. At its edge begins a long stretch of water with mud banks, maintained for water birds and waders, by the Chicago Ornithological Society. You notice an abundance of red-fruited shrubs. The birds have the Audubon Societies to thank for those. You rest on one of the stout benches provided by the Prairie Club, beside a thicket of wild crab apple trees planted by the Garden Club of Illinois.

Then you walk through prairie again. Four Boy Scouts pass. They are hiking the entire length of the trail. This fulfills a requirement for some merit badge. A troop of Scouts is planting acorns in a grove of cottonwood trees. Most of the time you find yourself in prairie or woodland of native Illinois plants. These stretches of trail need little or no upkeep. You come to one stretch, a long stretch, where nothing at all has been done. But university students are identifying and listing plants. The University of Chicago ecology department is in charge of this strip. They are watching to see what time and nature will do.

You catch occasional glimpses of bicycles flying past, along one side. The bicycles entered through a special stile admitting them to the bicycle strip. They cannot enter the path where you walk, but they can ride far and fast without being endangered by cars, and without endangering those who walk.

That is all in the future, the possible future. Right now the right-of-way lies waiting, and many hands are itching for it. Many bulldozers are drooling.
– MAY THEILGAARD WATTS, letter to the editor, Chicago Tribune, October 2, 1963. This letter led to the creation of the 50-mile Illinois Prairie Path and is generally credited with getting the rails-to-trails movement started.


A river is worth saving for what it manifestly is: a corridor of water, rock and land, a zone of life, a place of inexpressible beauty constantly reshaping itself. But the value of rivers exceeds anything most of us can imagine–it encompasses the very essence of planetary life. Healthy rivers are so important they define, in many respects, the health of the planet. –DAVID BOLLING, How to Save a River: A Handbook for Citizen Action, 1994

What makes a brook or river so special? It is useless to try to answer the question, for he who asks it will never understand the answer. Rivers and brooks are special simply because they are brooks, and they are rivers. –HAL BORLAND, Beyond Your Doorstep, 1962

Who looks upon a river in a mediative hour and is not reminded of the flux of all things. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Nature, 1836

Everything flows on and on like this river, without pause, day and night. –CONFUCIUS, Chinese philosopher, 551—479 BC

A river seems a magic thing. A magic, moving, living part of the very earth itself–for it is from the soil, both from its depth and from its surface, that a river has its beginning. –LAURA GILPIN, US photographer, 1891-1979

To the lost man, to the pioneer penetrating a new country, to the naturalist who wishes to see the wild land at its wildest, the advice is always the same–follow a river. The river is the original forest highway. It is nature's own Wilderness Road. –EDWIN WAY TEALE, US naturalist and author, 1879-1980

A river is more than an amenity–it is a treasure that offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have power over it. –OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, US physician, poet, and humorist, 1809—94

There is something more than association at the bottom of the excitement which the roar of a cataract produces. It is allied to the circulation in our veins. We have a waterfall which corresponds even to Niagara somewhere within us. –HENRY DAVID THOREAU, US writer and naturalist, 1817—62

The life of every river sings its own song, but in most the song is long since marred by the discords of misuse. –ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887—1948

As long as there are young men with the light of adventure in their eyes or a touch of wildness in their souls, rapids will be run. –SIGURD F. OLSON, conservation writer and wilderness advocate, 1899—1982

River time flows inside me. It becomes who I am: River of spirit … river of hope, river of fears … river of tears, river of passion … river of purpose, river of solitude … river of song, river of truth … river of love, river of dreams, river of life. –TOM BLAGDEN, The Rivers of South Carolina, 1999

Rivers have what man most respects and longs for in his own life and thought–a capacity for renewal and replenishment, continual energy, creativity, cleansing. –JOHN KAUFFMANN, Flow East: A Look at Our North Atlantic Rivers, 1973

You cannot step twice in the same river. –HERACLITUS, Greek philosopher, 535-475 BC

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters. –NORMAN MACLEAN, A River Runs Through It, 1976

Swift or smooth, broad as the Hudson or narrow enough to scrape your gunwales, every river is a world of its own, unique in pattern and personality. Each mile on a river will take you further from home than a hundred miles on a road. –BOB MARSHALL, Co-founder, Wilderness Society, 1901—39

Rivers are places that renew our spirit, connect us with our past, and link us directly with the flow and rhythm of the natural world. –TED TURNER, in The Rivers of South Carolina, 1999

The mist was all gone from the river now and the rapids sparkled and sang. They were still young as the land was young. We were there to enjoy it, and the great machines seemed far away. –SIGURD F. OLSON, conservation writer and wilderness advocate, 1899—1982

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. –LOREN EISELEY, The Immense Journey, 1946

It was kind of solemn, drifting down the big, still river, laying on our backs, looking up at stars, and we didn't even feel like talking aloud. –MARK TWAIN, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, 1884

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river. –ROSS PEROT, US businessman & philanthropist, 1930—

Finally, I took a walk alone to the levee. I wanted to sit on the muddy bank and dig the Mississippi River; instead of that I had to look at it with my nose against a wire fence. When you start separating the people from their rivers, what have you got? Bureaucracy! –JACK KEROUAC, On the Road, 1955

All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. –ECCLESIASTES 1:7

A river is more than an amenity–it is a treasure. –OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, US physician, poet, and humorist, 1809—94

There is no music like a little river's…. It takes the mind out-of-doors … and … it quiets a man down like saying his prayers. –ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, Scottish author and poet, 1850—94

The real way to know a river is not to glance at it here or there in the course of a hasty journey, nor to become acquainted with it after it has been partly civilized and spoiled by too close contact with the works of man. You must go to its native haunts; you must see it in youth and freedom; you must accommodate yourself to its pace, and give yourself to its influence, and follow its meanderings withersoever they may lead you. –HENRY VAN DYKE, US poet, 1852—1933

The good life on any river may … depend on the perception of its music, and the preservation of some music to perceive. –ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887—1948

The rivers are our brothers. –CHIEF SEATTLE, leader of the Suquamish Tribe in the Washington Territory, 1790—1866


Numerous studies have concluded that trails do not generate crime. Many studies show that, in fact, these facilities usually result in improvements in safety and overall neighborhood aesthetics. – AMANDA EAKEN and JOSHUA HART, Tunnels on Trails: A Study of 78 Tunnels on 36 Trails in the United States, 2001

The most efficient, although involuntary, ‘police' have been the track men of the University of Texas nearby. Few would-be muggers or other contemporary park villains relish the thought of tangling with a flock of fast-charging runners. –LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, Hiking and Biking in Austin [TX], 57(1): 44, 1966

Keeping all trail corridors clean and well-maintained increases the feeling of community ownership of the trail and will reduce the incidents or minor crime such as litter, graffiti and vandalism. Prohibiting motorized use of the trail will deter property crime. –TAMMY TRACY and HUGH MORRIS, Rail-Trails and Safe Communities: The Experience on 372 Trails, 1998

…it is safer to wander in God's woods than to travel on black highways or to stay at home. –JOHN MUIR, Our National Parks, 1901

Crime and the fear of crime do not flourish in an environment of high energy and healthy interaction among law abiding community members–the trail may be one of the safest places in the city. –Chief of Police in South Burlington, Vermont, 1997

Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the wilderness. –JOHN MUIR, Our National Parks, 1901

A venturesome minority will always be eager to set off on their own, and no obstacles should be placed in their path; let them take risks, for Godsake, let them get lost, sunburnt, stranded, drowned, eaten by bears, buried alive under avalanches–that is the right and privilege of any free American. But the rest, the majority, most of them new to the out-of-doors, will need and welcome assistance, instruction, and guidance. Many will not know how to saddle a horse, read a topographical map, follow a trail over slickrock, memorize landmarks, build a fire in rain, treat snakebite, rappel down a cliff, glissade down a glacier, read a compass, find water under sand, load a burro, splint a broken bone, bury a body, patch a rubber boat, portage a waterfall, survive a blizzard, avoid lightning, cook a porcupine, comfort a girl during a thunderstorm, predict the weather, dodge falling rock, climb out of a box canyon, or pour piss out of a boot. –EDWARD ABBEY, Desert Solitaire, 1971

No American wilderness that I know of is so dangerous as a city home ‘with all the modern improvements.' –JOHN MUIR, Our National Parks, 1901

The people's safety is the highest law. –ROMAN MAXIM

One should go to the woods for safety, if for nothing else. –JOHN MUIR, Our National Parks, 1901

…most trails are safer for bicycle and pedestrian use than the major alternatives such as public highways and roads. This point can be put another way: the risks of liability for bicycle and pedestrian use of trails are less than those associated with similar use of streets and highways. The reason is the user is less likely to be hit by a car or to run afoul of the detritus thrown from cars or other vehicles when the user is on a trail were such vehicles are prohibited. Indeed, the relative safety of trails is one of the major reasons that they are so popular with pedestrians and cyclists. –CHARLES MONTANGE, Preserving Abandoned Railroad Rights-of-Way for Public Use: A Legal Manual, 1989


How far will you go to get outside? –SIERRA DESIGNS

Remember, the use of profanity will not keep you warm and dry. –MOUNTAIN HARD WEAR

Who says you can't fight Mother Nature? –BURLINGTON

Out here, Mother [Nature] won't wipe your nose. She'll rub your nose in it. –BURLINGTON

No rest is as good as the one that comes after an endeavour. No accomplishment is as satisfying as one that contained doubt. And no courage is as great as one that included fear. –HELLY HANSEN

Lost is a four letter word. –BRUNTON

Get out while you can. –JANSPORT

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. –TIMEX

The trickiest maneuvers on any escapade are in the mind. –RED LEDGE

Go places. Do things. –HI-TEC

Feel for your feet. –BRIDGEDALE

Walk softly and carry a light pack. –GOLITE

If you carry what you've always carried, you won't get where you've never gotten. –GOLITE

A simple idea can change the world. Whatever you dream. Keep walking. –JOHNNIE WALKER

Exit the beaten path. –COLEMAN

Stupid hurts. –HONDA

Life is movement. –LOWA

I trade sweat for strength.
I trade sleep for sunrise.
I trade doubt for belief.
I trade my walking for nothing.

Journey … Find a path that captures your heart and follow it to the end. –JAGGED EDGE MOUNTAIN GEAR

an invitation,
a walk, a run, a hike,
a path that leads you,
a path that takes you away,

It's your planet, feel free to explore. –CAMELBAK

Think outside the boundaries. –WOOLRICH

Beyond your daily routine…. beyond phones, faxes and e-mail, there lies the outdoors. A place to get away to. –WOOLRICH

Believe in what you wear. –POLARTEC

Exploration is not just a thing you do. It's a way of living, something you believe in. –THE NORTH FACE

Just to that river. Just to that glacier. Just to that crevasse. Just to that spire. Never stop exploring. – THE NORTH FACE

Dreaming or making it happen? –ADVENTURE CYCLING ASSOCIATION

Get out More! –REI

Get out There! –REI

Hydrate or Die –CAMELBAK

Nature Rules. Stay on the trails. –ARIZONA STATE PARKS OHV PROGRAM

When the Outdoors is Your Office. –BEN MEADOWS COMPANY

You Gotta Arrive Before You Can Ride –SWAGMAN BICYCLE CARRIERS


Are we there yet? –HIGH GEAR

Rekindle the Spirit of Adventure. –CAMP TRAILS


Get out more! –BACKPACKER

Do what you dream! –GREGORY

Lighten up. –MARMOT

Get out of town. –ASOLO

Survival of the sweetest. –SPECIALIZED

Survival of the fattest. –SPECIALIZED

Innovate or die. –SPECIALIZED

He who questions approach find wrong answer on landing. –GIRO

More resources:

Related topics:

More resources:

Page end graphic

Contact us | Mission statement | Board of directors | Member organizations | Site map | Copyright | NRT | NTTP