Trail Quotes

A collection of trail quotes.

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.

By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. In fact, it is as difficult to appropriate the thoughts of others as it is to invent. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82

I am reminded of the professor who, in his declining hours, was asked by his devoted pupils for his final counsel. He replied, "Verify your quotations." –WINSTON CHURCHILL, British statesman, 1874—1965

It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. –WINSTON CHURCHILL, British statesman, 1874—1965

I hate quotations! Tell me what you know. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82


It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. –ANSEL ADAMS, US photographer, 1902Ð84

Too often, the advocates of trails and linear parks along rights-of-way come up against officials who recognize only one kind of park–the squared-off kind that comes in chunks; and one kind of recreation–the supervised kind known as ‘organized sweating.’ Such officials refuse to acknowledge that there has been a change in US recreation trends, reflected in the phenomenal growth of hiking, biking, and horseback riding… –CONSTANCE STALLINGS, Let’s Use Our Rights-of-Way, Reader’s Digest, 1970

People don’t change under governments. Governments change. People remain the same. –WILL ROGERS, cowboy humorist, 1879—1935

The greenway concept has spread across the state [North Carolina] to almost every major municipality.… I think that one of the things that’s impressive is that the energy is coming from the citizens rather than the government units. –CHUCK FLINK, President of Greenways Inc., as quoted in Corridors of Green, Wildlife in North Carolina, 1988

Preserving Our Natural Resources for the Public, Instead of from the Public. –motto of the BLUE RIBBON COALITON, 1987

We believe that the place to start … is in our communities. Americans living together and joining in associations across the country–this is where the tremendous strength and vision of our people will be tapped. We recommend a prairie fire of local action to sweep the nation, encouraging investment in outdoor recreation opportunities and rededication to the protection of our great natural heritage. – PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors, 1987

My own doctrine of organization is that any body of people coming together for a purpose (whatever it may be) should consist of persons wholly wedded to said purpose and should consist of nobody else. If the purpose be Cannibalism (preference for Ham a la Capitalism) then nobody but a Cannibal should be admitted. There should be plenty of discussion and disagreement as to how and the means but none whatever as to ends. –BENTON MACKAYE in a letter to Bob Marshall discussing membership for newly formed Wilderness Society, December 12, 1935

People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened. Showing up is 80% of life. –WOODY ALLEN, US film actor, director, & writer, 1935-

When, through automation, a man’s job has become unchallenging, boring and just a way to obtain purchasing power, if he is to keep that yeastlike feeling of being a prime mover in the world, he must do something of value with his spare time. –RAY LOWES, founder of Canada’s Bruce Trail, in a June 1964 speech to the Appalachian Trail Conference in Vermont

Society as we know it is almost a conspiracy against human health. One of the main forces working to counteract that is the trailsman. –STEWART UDALL, former Secretary of the Interior 1961—69

The fight for free space–for wilderness and for public space–must be accompanied by a fight for free time to spend wandering in that space. Otherwise the individual imagination will be bulldozed over for the chain-store outlets of consumer appetite, true-crime titillations, and celebrity crises. –REBECCA SOLNIT, Wanderlust: A History of Walking, 2000

Be a half-assed crusader, a part-time fanatic. Don’t worry to much about the fate of the world. Saving the world is only a hobby. Get out there and enjoy the world, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, husbands, wives; climb mountains, run rivers, get drunk, do whatever you want to do while you can, before it’s too late. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89, quoted in The Green Lifestyle Handbook, 1989

…key factor in the development and planning of most trails is local, grassroots efforts: that is, the citizens who drive the local, state, and federal government to act. Everything from establishing the vision and need for greenways to defining specific trail corridors, to participating in the zoning process, to forming citizen coalitions, to developing guidelines for trail use and access should be within the abilities of each citizen. With broad-based support, the vision of a national system of trails can be realized. –AMERICAN TRAILS,Trails for All Americans report, 1990

A first-rate trails system can only be created by people. –PRESIDENT’S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors, 1987

If there’s one essential ingredient to creating trails and trail systems, it’s people. All the land and financing in the world won’t blaze a trail if there aren’t people championing the project. –BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL COUNCIL, In Support of Trails: A Guide to Successful Trail Advocacy, 1993

The land belongs to them that love it (and will fight for it?). DICTUM: NO AUTOMOBILES IN NATIONAL PARKS. Let’s make them parks and not parking lots. FOR HUMAN BEINGS ONLY. God bless America. Let’s save some of It! –EDWARD ABBEY, journal entry April 8, 1957, Arches, Utah

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocre minds. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence. –ALBERT EINSTEIN, US (German-born) scientist, 1879—1955

People who have committed to a service/advocacy role will tell you that some of the sublimest pleasure they have ever experienced comes in the context of that work. You get way more than you give. – CHARLES GARFIELD, Peak Performers, 1986

Every important change in our society, for the good, at least, has taken place because of popular pressure–pressure from below, from the great mass of people. –EDWARD ABBEY, One Life at a Time, Please, 1988

Americans are seeking trail opportunities as never before. No longer are trails only for the ‘rugged individualists’ pursuing a solitary trek through breathtaking wilderness … users include young people and senior citizens, families, individuals and organized groups, people with disabilities and the physically fit. –AMERICAN TRAILS, Trails for All Americans report, 1990

Being an effective trail advocate begins with deciding just exactly what it is you want to achieve. Before you can get out and champion your project, you need a vision, a plan and maps that show preferred routes and other features. –BAY AREA RIDGE TRAIL COUNCIL, In Support of Trails: A Guide to Successful Trail Advocacy, 1993

Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am. A reluctant enthusiast and part-time crusader. A half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the West. It is even more important to enjoy it while you can, while it’s still there. So get out there, hunt, fish, mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the Griz, climb a mountain, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and elusive air. Sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness of the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves. Keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive. And I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in safe deposit boxes and their eyes hypnotized by their desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89

The future is not someplace we are going to, but a place we are creating. The paths to it are not found, they are made. –JANE GARVEY, Deputy Administrator, Federal Highway Administration from 1993—97

A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world. –JOHN LE CARRÉ, English writer, 1931—

'Wilderness is a resource that can shrink but not grow,' Aldo Leopold once remarked, and went on to observe that it takes intellectual humility to understand the cultural value of nature unaltered and unimproved. Nobody ever accused a government agency of intellect or humility (or, for that matter, the capacity to manage land), but we have reached a point in our historical development when stale jokes about the 'Forest Circus' and the 'Bureau of Livestock and Mining' and the principles of Ômultiple abuse' and 'sustained greed' no longer serve to mask bemusement with amusement. –PAGE STEGNER, Outposts of Eden, 1989

Unless someone truly has the power to say no, they never truly have the power to say yes. –DAN MILLMAN, Way of the Peaceful Warrior, 1985

We either have wild places or we don’t. We admit the spiritual-emotional validity of wild, beautiful places or we don’t. We have a philosophy of simplicity of experience in these wild places or we don’t. We admit an almost religious devotion to the clean exposition of the wild, natural earth or we don’t. – ANSEL ADAMS, US photographer, 1902—84

It is at the local, community level where successful trail networks begin. –BRANDYWINE CONSERVANCY, Community Trails Handbook, 1997

The national parks belong to everyone. To the people. To all of us. The government keeps saying so and maybe, in this one case at least, the government is telling the truth. Hard to believe, but possible. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89

If people in general could be got into the woods, even for once, to hear the trees speak for themselves, all difficulties in the way of forest preservation would vanish. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

We still need conservationists who will attempt the impossible, achieving it because they aren’t aware how impossible it is. –DAVID BROWER, Wildlands in Our Civilization, 1964

There is no comparison between an overwide trail or a flattened, well-used camping site and a clear-cut forest or a strip-mined mountainside. The real threats to the wilderness come from logging, mining, overgrazing, dams, downhill ski resorts, mass tourism developments, and other large-scale projects. Who opposes these schemes? Often it is people who have learned to love wild places by walking and camping in them, by treating them softly and leaving little trace of their passing. –CHRIS TOWNSEND, The Advanced Backpacker, 2001


There is an intense but simple thrill in setting off in the morning on a mountain trail, knowing that everything you need is on your back. It is a confidence in having left the inessentials behind and of entering a world of natural beauty that has not been violated, where money has no value, and possessions are a dead weight. The person with the fewest possessions is the freest. Thoreau was right. –PAUL THEROUX, The Happy Isles of Oceania: Paddling the Pacific, 1992

To walk well, you hike light–light on yourself, light on your budget, light on the land. –MARLYN DOAN,Hiking Light, 1982

The most important quality a [long distance] thru-hiker posses is the determination to succeed. Resolve and even courage are needed to get through the tough times: rain, snow, scorching sun, insects, unfavorable terrain. The rewards are the good times: beautiful scenery, outdoor life, increased feeling of self-worth, new friends. –CHRISTOPHER WHALEN, The Appalachian Trail: Workbook for Planning Thru-Hikes, 1992

‘I think,’ said Christopher Robin, ‘that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so we shan’t have so much to carry.’ –A.A. MILNE, Winnie-the-Pooh, 1954

Our outfits were never the same from trip to trip, for between each time something new had been seen, heard of, or devised that seemed to offer promise of improvement. The perfect outfit was ever an elusive goal to be sought, but never reached. –PAUL FINK, Backpacking Was the Only Way, 1975

When you walk, you know the distance you’ve covered in your tired bones, and it’s impossible to go so far that you lose the thread of continuity between "there" and "here." –KELLY WINTERS, Walking Home: A Woman’s Pilgrimage on the Appalachian Trail, 2001

Hanging over our planning was the ever present problem of weight; if everything was to be carried on our backs, it must be pared to the last ounce. –PAUL FINK, Backpacking Was the Only Way, 1975

A gadget industry pads the bumps against nature-in-the-raw; woodcraft becomes the art of using gadgets. –ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887—1948

Our plans were seldom adhered to, and generally much altered en route. That mattered little to us, for all our needed supplies were in the packs on our backs; we could make camp in one place just as well as in another. –PAUL FINK, Backpacking Was the Only Way, 1975

Mostly, two miles an hour is good going. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Complete Walker III, 1989

Frankly, I fail to see how going for a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains can be judged less real than spending six months working eight hours a day, five days a week, in order to earn enough money to be able to come back to a comfortable home in the evening and sit in front of a TV screen and watch the two-dimensional image of some guy talking about a book he has written on a six-month, thousand-mile walk through deserts and mountains. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Complete Walker III, 1989

It is an old custom of these people to pick up a stone and toss it on the pile. Perhaps it is a symbolical lightening of the load they carry, perhaps a small offering to the gods of the trails. –LOUIS L’AMOUR,The Lonesome Gods, Western writer, 1908—88

Long walks with a pack on one’s back are necessary in time of war, but I do not see why a man should go on marching in times of peace. –ROBERT LYND, The Blue Lion, 1923

Why not seize the pleasure at once? How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation! –JANE AUSTIN, English writer, 1775-1817

I never imagined that existence could be so simple, so uncluttered, so Spartan, so free of baggage, so sublimely gratifying. I have reduced the weight of my pack to 35 pounds and yet I can’t think of a single thing I really need that I can’t find, either within myself, or within my pack. –DAVID BRILL, As Far as the Eye Can See, 1990

Long distance hiking is not a vacation, it’s too long for that. It’s not recreation, too much toil and pain involved. It is, we decide, a way of life, a very simplified Spartan way of living … life on the move … heavy packs, sweating brow; they make you appreciate warm sunshine, companionship, cool water. The best way to appreciate these things that are precious and important in life it is take them away. – CINDY ROSS, Journey on the Crest, 1997

Backpacking forces one, by necessity, to walk the balance line, the edge of the sword, between disciplined deprivation and hedonistic gratification: a tiring, sweat-soaking day ends with a plunge into a cool stream; an arduous, lung-bursting climb is followed by a magnificent panoramic sweeping view; and there is the continuous contrast between life on the trail and civilized pleasures–a warm meal, a hot shower, clean dry clothes. It is by walking this line between sacrifice and satisfaction that one finds fulfillment. –ROBERT BROWNE, The Appalachian Trail: History, Humanity, and Ecology, 1980

Even in these mercifully emancipated decades, many people still seem quite seriously alarmed at the prospect of sleeping away from officially consecrated campsites, with no more equipment than they can carry on their backs. When pressed, they babble about snakes or bears or even, by God, bandits. But the real barrier, I’m sure, is the unknown. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Complete Walker, 1968

My meals were easily made, for they were all alike and simple, only a cupful of tea and bread. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home, in towns and cities. –NESSMUK (G.W. Sears), Woodcraft, 1963

Two questions we have been asked repeatedly all through the South: ‘You-all get paid for doing this, don’t you?’ and, ‘Are you working for the government?’ That we should be carrying heavy packs, sticking to the mountain trails, and camping out as we go, doing no hunting along the way, merely for fun, is of course completely incomprehensible! All through this region, nearly every man or boy encountered is carrying a gun; most of them say they would not think of venturing into the mountains without one. –GEORGE OUTERBRIDGE, Maine to Georgia–All the Way, Hiking the Appalachian Trail, edited by James Hare, 1975

Then came the gadgeteer, otherwise known as the sporting-goods dealer. He has draped the American outdoorsman with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft, or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them. Gadgets fill the pockets, they dangle from neck and belt. The overflow fills the auto-trunk and also the trailer. Each item of outdoor equipment grows lighter and often better, but the aggregate poundage becomes tonnage. –ALDO LEOPOLD, A Sand County Almanac, 1949

He who would travel happily must travel light. –ANTOINE-MARIE-ROGER de SAINT-EXUPERY, Wind, Sand, and Stars, 1939

It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy. –HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

I feel so independent now. I can get anywhere I want to. I have the few essentials I need, and the few other things I need or want I can derive from the land. –DAVID COOPER, on starting his 200-mile solo trek through the Brooks Range, Brooks Range Passage, 1982

Backpacking is the art of knowing what not to take. –SHERIDAN ANDERSON, Baron Von Mabel’s Backpacking, 1980

The man with the knapsack is never lost. No matter whither he may stray, his food and shelter are right with him, and home is wherever he may choose to stop. –HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

I made these Sierra trips, carrying only a sackful of bread with a little tea and sugar, and was thus independent and free…. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

Think what a great world revolution will take place when … [there are] millions of guys all over the world with rucksacks on their backs tramping around the back country…. –JACK KEROUAC, The Dharma Bums, 1958

Although the vast majority of walkers never even think of using a walking staff, I unhesitatingly include it among the foundations of the house that travels on my back. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Complete Walker III, 1989

The man who goes afoot, prepared to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most independent fellow on earth. –HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

Under most conditions, the best roof for your bedroom is the sky. This commonsense arrangement saves weight, time, energy, and money. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Complete Walker III, 1989

The fascinating quality of all sorts of wilderness and backcountry travel lies in the reduction of life to its essentials: food, shelter, beauty; the confrontation with forces and circumstances which are at once comprehensible, mysterious, and so powerful that they will not be denied. –RAYMOND BRIDGE, America’s Backpacking Book, 1973

To equip a pedestrian with shelter, bedding, utensils, food, and other necessities, in a pack so light and small that he can carry it without overstrain, is really a fine art. –HORACE KEPHART, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

The rule of thumb for the old backpacking was that the weight of your pack should equal the weight of yourself and the kitchen range combined. Just a casual glance at the full pack sitting on the floor could give you a double hernia and fuse four vertebrae. After carrying the pack all day, you had to remember to tie one leg to a tree before you dropped it. Otherwise you would float off into space. The pack eliminated the need for any special kind of ground-gripping shoes, because your feet would sink a foot and a half into hard-packed earth, two inches into solid rock. –PATRICK MCMANUS, A Fine and Pleasant Misery, 1978

More backpacking trips are ruined by sore feet than by all other causes combined. Pounded by the ground below and the weight of you and your pack above, your feet receive harsher treatment than any other part of your body. –CHRIS TOWNSEND, The Backpacker’s Handbook, 1996


Hikers, hunters, birdwatchers, technical rock climbers, anglers, skiers, canoeists–all these and many more turn to the outdoors to find challenge, not ease; uncertainty, not security…. –LAURA and GUY WATERMAN, Wilderness Ethics, 1993

Life for two weeks on the mountaintops would show up many things about life during the other fifty weeks down below. –BENTON MACKAYE, An Appalachian Trail: A Project in Regional Planning, The Journal of the American Institute of Architects, 1921

It is impossible to overestimate the value of wild mountains and mountain temples as places for people to grow in, recreation grounds for soul and body. –JOHN MUIR, US naturalist, 1838—1914

Details of the many walks I made along the crest have blurred, now, into a pleasing tapestry of grass and space and sunlight. –COLIN FLETCHER, The Secret Worlds of Colin Fletcher, 1989

Solitude is as needful to the imagination as society is wholesome for the character. –JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL, US poet, essayist, and diplomat, 1819-91

It’s just a plain, bottom-level love of nature. I think that’s a primal instinct we all have, maybe I just have more of it. I’ve lived it, I know how much being in the wilderness can enrich my life. –RAY JARDINE, go-light backpacking advocate, 1948-

It’s all still there in heart and soul. The walk, the hills, the sky, the solitary pain and pleasure–they will grow larger, sweeter, lovelier in the days and years to come. –EDWARD ABBEY, Beyond the Wall, 1984

The modern world is fast, complex, competitive, and always concerned with what happens next. There is always more to do than there is time. The landscape and even the light are mostly artificial. This can be exciting, but all too often it is frustrating, stressful, and exhausting. In contrast, hiking for weeks or months at a time in an unspoiled natural environment is a simple, repetitive activity that leads to calmness and psychological well-being, a feeling of wholeness, of being a complete person. Each day follows the same pattern, linking in with natural rhythms–walk in the light, sleep in the dark, eat when hungry, take shelter from storms. Only the details are different. I get a great pleasure from this simplicity, from the basic pattern of walk and camp, walk and camp. It is good to escape the rush of the modern world and for a period of time to live a quieter, more basic life. Problems and worries subside as the days go by; they are put into perspective by the elemental activity of putting one foot in front of the other hour after hour, day after day. And on returning from the wilds, restored and revitalized by the experience, I find civilization can be much easier to deal with; indeed, aspects of it can seem very desirable. –CHRIS TOWNSEND, The Advanced Backpacker, 2001

Studies show that trail development stimulates local economies, increases local tax revenue, attracts tourists seeking new recreational opportunities and revitalizes business districts. In addition, multi-use trails are considered critical amenities for home buyers. Corporations seek attractive communities that offer trails and open space when choosing where to locate new plants and offices. –GIL SCHAMESS, ISTEA & Trails: Enhancement Funding for Bicycling and Walking, 1995

In a world of constant change and flux where being in the moment seems increasingly harder to attain, there is also something about the notion of traveling along a pathway–under our own power–that reconnects us, and indeed binds together all humanity… –ROBERT SEARNS, founding owner of Urban Edges, Inc., a planning and development firm based in Denver, CO., 2001

As you sit on the hillside, or lie prone under the trees of the forest, or sprawl wet-legged by a mountain stream, the great door, that does not look like a door, opens. –STEPHEN GRAHAM, The Gentle Art of Tramping, 1926

The tendency nowadays to wander in wilderness is delightful to see. Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life. –JOHN MUIR, Our National Parks, 1901

The trail has taught me much. I know now the varied voices of the coyote–the wizard of the mesa. I know the solemn call of herons and the mocking cry of the loon. I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets. It has given me blessed release from care and worry and the troubled thinking of our modern day. It has been a return to the primitive and the peaceful. Whenever the pressure of our complex city life thins my blood and benumbs my brain, I seek relief in the trail; and when I hear a coyote wailing to the yellow dawn, my cares fall from me–I am happy. –HAMLIN GARLAND, Hitting the Trail, McClure’s, February 1899

However useful may be the National Parks and Forests of the West for those affording the Pullman fare to reach them, what is needed by the bulk of the American population is something nearer home. – BENTON MACKAYE, Progress Toward the Appalachian Trail, Appalachia, 1922

Whenever we make changes in our surroundings, we can too easily shortchange ourselves, by cutting ourselves off from some of the sights and sounds, the shapes or textures, or other information from a place that have helped mold our understanding and are now necessary for us to thrive. Overdevelopment and urban sprawl can damage our own lives as much as they damage our cities and countryside. –TONY HISS, The Experience of Place, 1990

Our suicidal poets (Plath, Berryman, Lowell, Jarrell, et al.) spent too much of their lives inside rooms and classrooms when they should have been trudging up mountains, slogging through swamps, rowing down rivers. The indoor life is the next best thing to premature burial. –EDWARD ABBEY, US environmental advocate, 1927—89

Recreation in the open is of the finest grade. The moral benefits are all positive. The individual with any soul cannot live long in the presence of towering mountains or sweeping plains without getting a little of the high moral standard of Nature infused into his being … with eyes opened, the great story of the Earth’s forming, the history of a tree, the life of a flower or the activities of some small animal will all unfold themselves to the recreationist…. –ARTHUR CARHART, USDA Forest Service’s first landscape architect (1919), 1892—1978

I have a basic belief that outdoor recreation in a natural environment is good for people and is good for society at large. Anything that will bring more people to outdoor recreation, I therefore consider a ‘friend.’ Problems that derive from this philosophy are what keep me and others like me in business as recreation managers. –RICHARD SPRAY, USDA Forest Service employee, 1986

What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb in riotous gladness! –HELEN KELLER, deaf & blind US lecturer, 1880—1968

I learned early that the richness of life is found in adventure. Adventure calls on all the faculties of mind and spirit. It develops self-reliance and independence. Life then teems with excitement. But man is not ready for adventure unless he is rid of fear. For fear confines him and limits his scope. He stays tethered by strings of doubt and indecision and has only a small and narrow world to explore. – WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS, Of Men and Mountains, 1950

People need immediate places to refresh, reinvent themselves. Our surroundings built and natural alike, have an immediate and a continuing effect on the way we feel and act, and on our health and intelligence. These places have an impact on our sense of self, our sense of safety, the kind of work we get done, the ways we interact with other people, even our ability to function as citizens in a democracy. In short, the places where we spend our time affect the people we are and can become. – TONY HISS, The Experience of Place, 1990

Greenways and trails offer a new way of looking at how a community’s cultural, historic, recreational and conservation needs fit into an overall picture that also includes economic growth. With their emphasis on connections, greenways and trails allow community leaders to consider how existing parks and open spaces can become part of a network of green that supports wildlife, pleases people, and attracts tourists and clean industry. –OFFICE of GREENWAYS and TRAILS, FLORIDA DEPT of ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, Thinking Green: A Guide to the Benefits and Costs of Greenways and Trails, 1998

In a world dominated by hijackings, hostages, banana republic wars, atom bombs, and superpower posturings, we all yearn for something that makes sense to us as individuals. That something, for an increasing number of Americans, can be a hands-on involvement in a program that plants trees, builds trails, restores streams and streambanks, and creates a sense of ‘natural place’ in their communities. – NEIL SAMPSON, Editorial: National Action on Greenways, American Forests, Sept/Oct 1987

Continually.… I think back on the pleasures that I’ve had on the trail and the teachings that it has imparted to me, and how those pleasures and those teachings have given me happiness and a greater understanding of how to bring fullness and richness into my life. –ANN and MYRON SUTTON, The Appalachian Trail: Wilderness on the Doorstep, 1967

Trails have multiple values and their benefits reach far beyond recreation. Trails can enrich the quality of life for individuals, make communities more livable, and protect, nurture, and showcase America’s grandeur by traversing areas of natural beauty, distinctive geography, historic significance, and ecological diversity. Trails are important for the nation’s health, economy, resource protection and education. –AMERICAN TRAILS, Trails for All Americans report, 1990

The thrill of tramping alone and unafraid through a wilderness of lakes, creeks, alpine meadows, and glaciers is not known to many. A civilization can be built around the machine but it is doubtful that a meaningful life can be produced by it.… When man worships at the feet of avalanche lilies or discovers the delicacies of the pasque flower or finds the faint perfume of the phlox on rocky ridges, he will come to know that the real glories are God’s creations. When he feels the wind blowing through him on a high peak or sleeps under a closely matted white bark pine in an exposed basin, he is apt to find his relationship to the universe. –WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS, Supreme Court Justice and avid hiker, 1898—1980

The influence of fine scenery, the presence of mountains, appeases our irritations and elevates our friendships. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, Culture, The Conduct of Life, 1860

Retaining a feeling of significance is becoming ever more difficult in our society of giant enterprises, directed by bureaucracy in which man becomes a smaller cog in a bigger machine. In too many cases they live and die without having confronted the fundamental realities of human existence. Their fragmented and piecemeal lives do not teach them the wholeness, unity and purpose that they need in order to be satisfied and secure. Outdoor recreation experiences can help mold into people the wholeness concept and the balance that is essential to a satisfying life. The outdoors embodies something that cannot be found anywhere else. It is not merely the scenery, or the mountain breeze, or the open spaces that delight us. The outdoors embody history, primitive experiences, and elements capable of lifting the spirit. –CLAYNE JENSEN, Outdoor Recreation in America, 1985

In, summary, this study indicates that concerns about decreased property values, increased crime, and a lower quality of life due to the construction of multi-use trails are unfounded. In fact, the opposite is true. The study indicates that multi-use trails are an amenity that help sell homes, increase property values and improve the quality of life. Multi-use trails are tremendously popular and should continue to be built to meet the ever-growing demand for bicycle facilities in Seattle. –BRIAN PUNCOCHAR & PETER LAGERWAY, Evaluation of the Burke-Gilman Trail’s Effect on Property Values and Crime report, 1987

Why Trails?

  • Trails promote health and fitness by providing an enjoyable and safe place for bicycling, walking, and jogging, removed from the hazards of motor vehicles.
  • Trails contribute to economic vitality, increased property values and increases in regional tourism.
  • Trails help protect resources and preserve open space by defining zones free of human habitation and development.
  • Trails educate young and old Americans alike about the value and importance of the natural environment.
  • Trails offer an alternative to motorized vehicles, connecting homes with schools, offices, and shopping areas and contribute to a healthier environment, with cleaner air and less traffic congestion.
  • 155 million people walk for pleasure, 93 million bicycle, 41 million hike, trails provide access to 43 million for nature study, photography, small game hunting or primitive camping, 10 million ride horses on trails, 5 million backpack, and 11 million ski on trails. –AMERICAN TRAILS, Trails for All Americans report, 1990

Always in big woods, when you leave familiar ground and step off alone to a new place, there will be, along with feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the unknown, and it is your bond with the wilderness you are going into. What you are doing is exploring. You are understanding the first experience, not of the place, but of yourself in that place. It is the experience of our essential loneliness, for nobody can discover the world for anybody else. It is only after we have discovered it for ourselves that it becomes common ground, and a common bond, and we cease to be alone. –WENDELL BERRY, The Unknown Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge, 1971

When man ventures into the wilderness, climbs the ridges, and sleeps in the forest, he comes in close communion with his Creator. When man pits himself against the mountain, he taps inner springs of his strength. He comes to know himself. –WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS, Of Men and Mountains, 1950


If you worried about falling off the bike, you'd never get on. –LANCE ARMSTRONG, Every Second Counts, 2003

Exploration comes easy on a bicycle, the unknown is everywhere. –DANIEL BEHRMAN, The Man Who Loved Bicycles; The Memoirs of an Autophobe, 1973

Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle. –HELEN KELLER, deaf & blind US lecturer, 1880—1968

…. the bicycle boom is not a fad. It comes at (or is symptomatic of) a time when traffic jams are intolerable to commuters, heart disease kills too many sedentary executives, the population grows ever more pollution-aware and ecology-minded, and millions of people are looking to the simple pleasures of life. –STEVE SHERMAN, Bike Hiking, 1974

The bicycle is its own best argument. –RICHARD BALLANTINE, Richard’s 21st Century Bicycle Book,2001

A bike is an ideal compromise between walking and a car. A bike triples the speed of walking yet doesn’t zoom over the landscape, so that what is passed isn’t passed unseen. –STEVE SHERMAN, Bike Hiking,1974

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. –SUSAN B. ANTHONY, US crusader for women’s suffrage, 1820—1906

Few articles ever used by man have created so great a revolution in social conditions as the bicycle. – 1900 United States Census Report

Think about it. When was the last time you met a grouchy bike rider? –STEVE SHERMAN, Bike Hiking,1974

The bicycle … has been responsible for more movement in manners and morals than anything since Charles the Second. Under its influence, wholly or in part, have wilted chaperones, long and narrow skirts, tight corsets, hair that would come down, black stockings, thick ankles, large hats, prudery, and fear of the dark; under its influence, have blossomed weekends, strong nerves, strong legs, strong language, knickers, knowledge of make and shape, knowledge of woods and pastures, equality of sex, good digestion, and professional occupation–in four words, the emancipation of women. –JOHN GALSWORTHY, English novelist and playwright, 1867-1933

As a kid I had a dream–I wanted to own my own bicycle. When I got the bike I must have been the happiest boy in Liverpool, maybe the world. I lived for that bike. –JOHN LENNON, English singer-songwriter, 1940-80

It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up them and coast down them. –ERNEST HEMINGWAY, US writer, 1899—1961

The more I think about our US domestic transportation problem from this vantage point [China] the more I see an increased role for the bicycle in American life. I am convinced after riding bikes an enormous amount here in China, that it is a sensible, economical, clean form of transportation and makes enormous good sense. –GEORGE BUSH, US Liaison Office, Beijing, China, 1975

A good cyclist does not need a high road. –SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, Scottish writer and creator of Sherlock Holmes, 1859-1930

Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride. –JOHN F. KENNEDY, Thirty-fifth US President (1961—63), 1917—63

Let us bequeath our children more than the gadgets that surround us. If bicycling can be restored to the daily life of all Americans, it can be a vital step toward rebuilding health and vigor in all of us. –DR. PAUL DUDLEY WHITE, US cardiologist, 1886—1973

The world lies right beyond the handlebars of any bicycle. –DANIEL BEHRMAN, The Man Who Loved Bicycles; The Memoirs of an Autophobe, 1973

I thought of that [the theory of relativity] while riding my bike. –ALBERT EINSTEIN, US (German-born) scientist, 1879—1955

Bicycle facility planning is commonly thought of as the effort undertaken to develop a separate bikeway system composed completely of bicycle paths and lanes all interconnected and spaced closely enough to satisfy all the travel needs of bicyclists. In fact, such systems can be unnecessarily expensive and do not provide for the vast majority of bicycle travel. Existing highways, often with relatively inexpensive improvements, must serve as the base system to provide for the travel needs of bicyclists. Bicycle paths and lanes can augment this existing system in scenic corridors or places where access is limited. Thus, bicycle transportation planning is more than planning for bikeways and is an effort that should consider many alternatives to provide for safe and efficient bicycle travel. –AASHTO, Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities, 1991

Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it. If you live. –MARK TWAIN (Samuel Clemens), US writer and humorist, 1835—1910

The bicycle is the most civilized conveyance known to man. Other forms of transport grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. –IRIS MURDOCH, The Red and the Green, 1965

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. –ELIZABETH WEST, Hovel in the Hills, 1977

Cycle trails will abound in Utopia. –H.G. WELLS, English novelist, 1866—1946

We’ve been trying to sell cyclists of all ages and abilities on very detailed and demanding education and training programs designed to make them more like motorists. Bicyclists have shown they don’t want this. What cyclists repeatedly tell us they do want is more safe places to ride, and it is time we listened to that message. –BILL WILKINSON, Executive Director, Bicycle Federation of America, 1991

Without question, bicycling is an efficient, economical and environmentally sound form of transportation and recreation. Bicycling is a great activity for families, recreational riders and commuters. Hillary, Chelsea and I have bicycles…. –PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, in Bicycling magazine, 1992

When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race. –H.G. WELLS, English novelist, 1866—1946

Since the bicycle makes little demand on material or energy resources, contributes little to pollution, makes a positive contribution to health and causes little death or injury, it can be regarded as the most benevolent of machines. –S. S. WILSON, Bicycle Technology, Scientific American, March 1973

The bicycle is a vehicle of revolution. It can destroy the tyranny of the automobile as effectively as the printing press brought down despots of flesh and blood. The revolution will be spontaneous, the sum total of individual revolts like my own. It may have already begun. –DANIEL BEHRMAN, The Man Who Loved Bicycles; The Memoirs of an Autophobe, 1973

Bumper Stickers

  • No Rain, No Pain, No Maine
  • My Other Car is a Pair of Boots
  • Hike Naked
  • Share the Trail
  • Hit the Trail
  • Get on a Trail
  • Environment is everything
  • I might not know where I am … But, I ain’t lost
  • Take nothing but pictures, Leave nothing but footprints
  • Walk in Balance
  • Walk in Harmony
  • I Brake for Trail Crossings
  • Walk, Just for the Health of it
  • Have You Hugged Your Kayak Today?
  • Save Gas–Ride a Horse
  • Support Search and Rescue … Get Lost!


…let us run with patience the race that’s set before us. –HEBREWS 12:1

Montani semper liberi–Mountaineers are always free. –LATIN SAYING

Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. – GENESIS 13:17

Walk while ye have the light with you, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. –JOHN 12:35

Let us walk honestly, as in the day… –ROMANS 13:13

For we walk by faith, not by sight. –CORINTHIANS II 5:7

Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein… – JEREMIAH 6:16

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me… – PSALM 23:4

One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh; but the earth abides forever. – ECCLESIATES 1:4

…speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee… –JOB 12:8

Glory to your feet. –ALBANIAN ROAD GREETING

To move the world we must first move ourselves. –SENECA, Roman statesman, 4 BC—65 AD

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. –CONFUCIUS, Chinese philosopher, 551—479 BC

There is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so. –WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, English dramatist & poet, 1564—1616

Remember when life’s path is steep, keep your mind even. –HORACE, Latin lyric poet, 65—8 BC

The beginning is in the end and the end is in the beginning. –THE KABBALAH

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero. Seize today, and put as little trust as you can in the morrow. –HORACE, Latin lyric poet, 65—8 BC

In the landscape of Spring, there is neither better nor worse. The flowering branches grow naturally, some long, some short. –ZEN SAYING

You become what you think about all day long. –RALPH WALDO EMERSON, US essayist, 1803—82

Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. –LAO-TZU, Chinese philosopher, 604—531 BC

The virtuous man is happy in this world, and he is happy in the next; he is happy in both. He is happy when he thinks of the good he has done; he is still more happy when going on the good path. – BUDDHA, East Indian philosopher and religious leader, 563?-483?

God is at home, it’s we who have gone out for a walk. –MEISTER ECKHART, German Christian mystic, 1260-1327

…a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. –LUKE 12:15

When the people lead, the leaders will follow. –OLD AXIOM

Straight is the gate and narrow is the path that leads to life and there are few who find it. –MATTHEW 7:7

We have met the enemy and he is us. –POGO, 1972, comic strip character by Walt Kelly, 1913-73

There’s some end at last for the man who follows a path: mere rambling is interminable. –SENECA, Roman statesman, 4 BC—65 AD

The path up and down is one and the same. –HERACLITUS, Greek philosopher, 535-475 BC

I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. –PSALM 121:1

Skills vary with the man. We must tread a straight path and strive by that which is born in us. – PINDAR, Odes, 5th c. BC

Good company in a journey makes the way seem the shorter. –IZAAK WALTON, English biographer, 1593-1683

All that glitters is not gold. All who wander are not lost. –WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, English dramatist & poet, 1564-1616

Mother of Marvels, mysterious and tender Nature, why do we not live more in thee. –HENRI FRÉDÉRIC AMIEL, Swiss writer, 1821-81

Where there is no vision, the people perish. –PROVERBS 29:18

He who needs only coarse food, water and drink, and as pillow his folded arms will find happiness without further search. –CONFUCIUS, Chinese philosopher, 551—479 BC

And the Lord said unto Satan, ‘When comest thou?’ Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, ‘From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.’ –JOB 1:7

Who never climbed high never fell low. –THOMAS FULLER, Gnomologia, 1732

The path is smooth that leadeth on to danger. –WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, Venus and Adonis, 1593

What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing. –ARISTOTLE, Greek philosopher, 384—322 BC

There is more to life than increasing its speed. –MOHANDAS K. GANDHI, Indian nationalist leader, 1869—1948

To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first. –WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, English dramatist & poet, 1564—1616

It’s easier to go down a hill than up it, but the view is much better at the top. –ARNOLD BENNET, English writer, 1867—1931

Find a path or make one. –SENECA, Roman statesman, 4 BC—65 AD

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. –PSALM 119:105

Because it is there [famous explanation for wanting to climb Mount Everest]. –GEORGE MALLORY, English mountaineer, 1886—1924

I follow nature as the surest guide, and resign myself with implicit obedience to her sacred ordinances. – CICERO, Roman orator, 106—43 BC

The dogs may bark … but the caravan moves on! –OLD ADAGE

It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching. –SAINT FRANCIS of ASSISI, Italian friar, 1181—1226

If you would attain to what you are not yet, you must always be displeased by what you are. For where you are pleased with yourself there you have remained. Keep adding, keep walking, keep advancing. – SAINT AUGUSTINE, Christian bishop and theologian, 354—430

Prayer of the Woods

I am the heat of your hearth on the cold winter nights, the friendly shade screening you from the summer sun, and my fruits are refreshing draughts quenching your thirst as you journey on. I am the beam that holds your house, the board of your table, the bed on which you lie, and the timber that builds your boat. I am the handle of your hoe, the door of your homestead, the wood of your cradle, the shell of your coffin. I am the bread of kindness and the floor of beauty. Ye who pass by, listen to my prayer: harm me not. First used in the PORTUGUESE FOREST RESERVES more than 1,000 years ago. Now used on nature trails throughout the world.

He who is everywhere is nowhere. –SENECA, Roman statesman, 4 BC—65 AD

Conference Themes

Making a Difference –Tread Lightly!’s Conference, Park City, UT, October 3-5, 2001

Healthy trails, healthy people… discover the economic, social, and health benefits. –Washington State Trails Conference, Vancouver, WA, October 4-6, 2001

Trails and Tribulations: How to Overcome Problems and Get Trails Built Colorado Trails Symposium, Colorado Springs, CO, June 9-11, 1994

Connecting with Communities through Education, Tourism, and Stewardship 10th Conference on National Scenic & Historic Trails, Las Vegas, NV, June 18-22, 2005

Connecting our Communities –12th National Trails Symposium, Anchorage, AK, September 28 — October 1, 1994

Trails for All Americans –11th National Trails Symposium, Missoula, MT, September 19-22, 1992

Getting in Gear –A Statewide Mountain Biking Symposium, Durango, CO, September 14, 1990

Networking the Nation with Trails –5th National Rails-to-Trails Conference, Clearwater, FL, November 15-18, 1995

Going Places…… –4th National Rails-to-Trails Conference, Concord, CA, September 29 — October 2, 1993

Urban Trails: A Tremendous Recreational Opportunity –Trails in an Urban Setting, University of Illinois, March 21, 1970

Strands in the Web of Life –North Carolina Greenways Conference, Raleigh, NC, September 9-11, 1992

Maryland Greenways–Natural Connections –First Annual Governor’s Conference on Greenways, Howard County, MD, November 1-2, 1990

Expanding America’s Trail System: An Investment in Energy-wise Recreation –Fourth National Trails Symposium, Lake Junaluska, NC, September 7-10, 1977

Parkways, Greenways, Riverways: The Way More Beautiful –Linear Parks Conference, Asheville, NC, September 19-22, 1989

Parkways, Greenways, Riverways: A Partnership for Beauty and Progress –Linear Parks Conference, Charlottesville, VA, November 12-14, 1991

Marrying Beauty with Utility –Linear Parks Conference, Boone, NC, September 8-11, 1993

Blazing a Trail to Washington, DC –13th National Trails Symposium, Bethesda, MD, March 7-13, 1996

Strong Partnerships Make Great National Trails –7th Conference on National Scenic & Historic Trails, Casper, WY, August 17-21, 2001

Creating Connections for the New Millennium –Mid-Atlantic Governors’ Conference on Greenways, Blueways, Green Infrastructure, Arlington, VA, September 16-19, 2001

Leading the Way to Healthy Communities –The 3rd International Trails and Greenways Conference, St. Louis, MO, September 26-29, 2001

photo credit: Mike Bullington

Conflict Resolution

Then their land [Great Britain] is threaded with paths which invite the walker, and which are scarcely less important than the highways. I heard of a surly nobleman near London who took it into his head to close a footpath that passed through his estate near his house, and open another one a little farther off. The pedestrians objected; the matter got into the courts, and after protracted litigation the aristocrat was beaten. The path could not be closed or moved. The memory of man ran not to the time when there was not a footpath there, and every pedestrian should have the right of way there still. – JOHN BURROUGHS, The Exhilaration of the Road, Winter Sunshine, 1875

You ask people why they’re adamant about banning cyclists from a particular trail and what it usually comes down to is they just don’t want to share. It’s preschool all over again. –TIM BLUMENTHAL, Executive Director, International Mountain Bicycle Association, 1995

... maybe we need to start offering classes to hikers and bikers and equestrians and everyone else on how to just play nice together outside. –TOM PRICE, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, 1999

Bikers, hikers, and equestrians are really about 80 percent aligned. But without some common enemy [like development] to take aim at, they fight constantly over the last 20 percent. —JIM JACOBSEN, Bicycle Trails Council of Marin, 1998

Recreation is a perpetual battlefield because it is a single word denoting as many diverse things as there are diverse people. One can discuss it only in personal terms. —ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887-1948

... we have here the old conflict between preservation and use, long since an issue with respect to timber, water power, and other purely economic resources, but just now coming to be an issue with respect to recreation. —ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887-1948

Yielding, by the way, doesn't always require that you must dismount [your mountain bike], move off the trail, and kowtow to others as they pass by. Many trails are wide enough to allow trail users to pass one another safely. Yielding does mean slowing way down and assuring a wide enough avenue for others to pass without feeling confronted or alarmed. If there is any question whatsoever, stop and move over. —PETER OLIVER, Bicycling: Touring and Mountain Bike Basics, 1995

In the high-use areas, there were flowing rivers of humanity, and the campsites looked like bomb zones... —DON LANE, USDA Forest Service Wilderness Manager, explaining why tighter restrictions were imposed in California's Desolation Wilderness Area near Lake Tahoe during the summer of 2000

It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow's viewpoint, and he understands ours, than we can sit down and work out our differences. —HARRY S. TRUMAN, Thirty-third US President (1945-53), 1884-1972

A simple equation exists between freedom and numbers: the more people, the less freedom. —ROYAL ROBBINS, Basic Rockcraft, 1971

Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them. —ALBERT EINSTEIN, US (German-born) scientist, 1879-1955

For many years, outdoor recreation proved to be a popular way of expressing such cultural values as thrift, hard work, and self-reliance. Today, we also see outdoor recreation reflecting the more contemporary values of conspicuous consumption, immediate gratification, peer-group acceptance, and the easy life. This suggests that outdoor recreation is, if not a battle ground, at least a focal point for cultural clashes. —WILBUR LAPAGE, Cultural Fogweed and Outdoor Recreation Research, in Recreation Symposium Proceedings, 1971

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome. —SAMUEL JOHNSON, Rasselas, 1759

Trail conflicts can and do occur among different user groups, among different users within the same user group, and as a result of factors not related to users' trail activities at all. In fact, no actual contact among trail users need occur for conflict to be felt. —ROGER MOORE, Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails: Synthesis of the Literature and State of the Practice, 1994

Splintering the outdoor user groups is playing into the hands of those interests that would exploit or destroy the resource we're all preoccupied with saving. The Davids of the world have a tough job already. If we continue to sling rocks at each other, the Goliaths will walk or ride all over us. Let's build trails, not walls between each other. —JOHN VIEHMAN, Mountain Bikes: Let's Build Trails, Not Walls, Backpacker, August 1990

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. —ABRAHAM MASLOW, US psychologist, 1908-70

Twelve principles for minimizing conflicts on multiple-use trails:

  1. Recognize Conflict as Goal Interference — Do not treat conflict as an inherent incompatibility among different trail activities, but rather as goal interference attributed to another’s behavior.
  2. Provide Adequate Trail Opportunities — Offer adequate trail mileage and provide opportunities for a variety of trail experiences. This will help reduce congestion and allow users to choose the conditions that are best suited to the experiences they desire.
  3. Minimize Number of Contacts in Problem Areas — Each contact among trail users has the potential to result in conflict. So, as a general rule, reduce the number of user contacts whenever possible. This is especially true in congested areas and at trailheads.
  4. Involve Users as Early as Possible — Identify the present and likely future users of each trail and involve them in the process of avoiding and resolving conflicts as early as possible, preferably before conflicts occur.
  5. Understand User Needs — Determine the motivations, desired experiences, norms, setting preferences, and other needs of the present and likely future users of each trail. This ‘customer’ information is critical for anticipating and managing conflicts.
  6. Identify the Actual Sources of Conflict — Help users to identify the specific tangible causes of any conflicts they are experiencing. In other words, get beyond emotions and stereotypes as quickly as possible, and get to the roots of any problems that exist.
  7. Work with Affected Users — Work with all parties involved to reach mutually agreeable solutions to these specific issues. Users who are not involved as part of the solution are more likely to be part of the problem now and in the future.
  8. Promote Trail Etiquette — Minimize the possibility that any particular trail contact will result in conflict by actively and aggressively promoting responsible trail behavior.
  9. Encourage Positive Interaction Among Different Users — Trail users are usually not as different from one another as they believe. Providing positive interactions both on and off the trail will help break down barriers and stereotypes, and build understanding, good will, and cooperation.
  10. Favor ‘Light-Handed Management’ — Use the most ‘light-handed approaches’ that will achieve objectives. This is essential in order to provide the freedom of choice and natural environments that are so important to trail-based recreation. Intrusive design and coercive management are not compatible with high-quality experiences.
  11. Plan and Act Locally — Whenever possible, address issues regarding multiple-use trails at the local level. This allows greater sensitivity to local needs and provides better flexibility for addressing difficult issues on a case-by-case basis.
  12. Monitor Progress — Monitor the ongoing effectiveness of the decisions made and programs implemented. —ROGER MOORE, Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails: Synthesis of the Literature and State of the Practice, 1994

The only way you can expect someone to understand your point of view is to provide them with the substance from which your outlook was developed. Essentially then, the task is education and not argumentation. —HERB COHEN, You Can Negotiate Anything, 1980

There are many kinds of trail users: hikers, horseback riders, bicyclists, motorcyclists, ski tourers, snowshoers, snowmobilers, all-terrain-vehicle riders, joggers, and more recently, mountain bicyclists.

Because different types of trail users often utilize the same trails, there is a potential for conflict. Satisfaction is often affected by the type of users encountered and how they behave. Encountering large groups is particularly disruptive of others' solitude. All four of the major types of trail users (hikers, horseback riders, bicycle riders, and motorcycle riders) usually enjoy meeting hikers, but hikers prefer not to meet any other types.

Furthermore, horseback riders and bicyclists are not particularly fond of motorcycle riders. Similarly, cross-country skiers prefer not to meet snowmobilers. This would argue for the separation of trails users, particularly motorized users, whenever possible.

EDWIN KRUMPE and ROBERT LUCAS, Literature review paper, President's Commission on Americans Outdoors, Report and Recommendations to the President of the United States, 1986

Compromise, n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due. —AMBROSE BIERCE, The Devil's Dictionary, 1881-1911


For bicycle and pedestrian facilities to be truly functional as routes between work, home, school, libraries, parks and shopping areas, they must be part of an interconnected network. —AMANDA EAKEN and JOSHUA HART, Tunnels on Trails: A Study of 78 Tunnels on 36 Trails in the United States, 2001

Trails not only connect us with each other, they connect us with ourselves. Landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted knew this, and designed his pathways for reverie: gentle, winding, and somehow private. Communities with no place to daydream are communities without imagination. —DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails to Trails Conservancy, 2001

In a time of both great wealth and difficult challenges, trails offer a rare chance to connect the past, present and future. It is possible to envision a system of trails that is as extensive and interconnected as the interstate highways and railroads. —JEFF OLSON, Millennium Trails: Honor the Past, Imagine the Future, ITE Journal, November 2000

Imagine a network of Millennium Trails connecting every community in America; carving a path through urban and rural areas; carrying us along our landscape; making it possible to walk or bike to work and school; helping us to understand and celebrate our history and culture. Millennium Trails will be very tangible gifts to our future. They will be accessible to people of all ages and abilities. Together they represent a commitment and an investment in the kind of country we want to create in the next century. —FIRST LADY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, National Trails Day Message, The White House, June 5, 1999

We are kindred all of us, killer and victim, predator and prey, me and the sly coyote, the soaring buzzard, the elegant gopher snake, and trembling cottontail, the foul worms that feed on our entrails; all of them, all of us. Long live diversity, long live the earth! —EDWARD ABBEY, Desert Solitaire, 1968

We need nature as much in the city as in the countryside. In order to endure we must maintain the bounty of that great cornucopia which is our inheritance. It is clear that we must look deep to the values which we hold. These must be transformed if we are to reap the bounty and create that fine visage for the home of the brave and the land of the free. We need, not only a better view of man and nature, but a working method by which the least of us can ensure that the product of his works is not more despoliation. —IAN MCHARG, Design With Nature, 1969

By linking open spaces we can achieve a whole that is better than the sum of the parts. —WILLIAM WHYTE, The Last Landscape, 1968

Trails consolidate and connect communities, rather than encourage them to expand and fragment. —DAVID BURWELL, President, Rails to Trails Conservancy, 1997

Sooner or later, wittingly or unwittingly, we must pay for every intrusion on the natural environment. —BARRY COMMONER, Science and Survival, 1966

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a manor of they friends or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. —JOHN DONNE, Devotions XVII, 1624

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe. —JOHN MUIR, My First Summer in the Sierra, 1911

Everything is connected to everything else. —ALDO LEOPOLD, US conservationist, 1887-1948

Greenways are É about connections: connections between people and the land, between public parks, natural areas, historic sites, and other open spaces, between conservation and economic development, and between environmental protection and our quality of life. —CHUCK FLINK & ROBERT SEARNS, Greenways, 1993

Imagine walking out your front door, getting on a bicycle, a horse É or simply donning your backpack and within minutes of your home, setting off along a continuous network of recreation corridors that could lead across the country. —PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors, 1987

A connected system of parks and parkways is manifestly far more complete and useful than a series of isolated parks. Report to the Portland [OR] Park Board, 1903. —FREDERICK LAW OLMSTED, US landscape architect, 1822-1903

Greenways can draw people together in their communities to provide open spaces for all close to their own homes. They have the potential to be this country's most important land-based effort for conservation and recreation in the next several decades.

They can draw private and local entities into lead roles in provision of recreation opportunities. They can capitalize on the entrepreneurial spirit of Americans and give pride of accomplishment and responsibility to millions of people in every community. They can protect vital water, fish, wildlife, and recreation resources as integral parts of the growth of cities and communities.

And, if greenways truly capture the imagination and boldness of the American spirit, they could eventually form the corridors that connect open spaces, parks, forests, and deserts— and Americans— from sea to shining sea.

PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Report and Recommendations to the President of the United States, 1986

The last word in ignorance is the man who says of an animal or plant: "What good is it?" If the land mechanism as a whole is good, then every part is good, whether we understand it or not. If the biota, in the course of eons, has built something we like but do not understand, then who but a fool would discard seemingly useless parts. To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering. —ALDO LEOPOLD and LUNA LEOPOLD, Round River: From the Journals of Aldo Leopold, 1953

To follow a trail is to establish a link with the history of man. It is at once the most primitive and the most civilized of activities. A trail may well have been followed first by animals seeking food and water; Indians following the game wore it a little wider. Explorers followed the same paths, to be followed in turn by soldiers and settlers and men who poured concrete over footpaths. The concrete now goes just about every place we need to go. But we now have the leisure to travel just for the sake of traveling, and there is no better way to do it than by trail. —LENNON HOOPER, National Park Trails, 1973

We can tie this country together with threads of green that everywhere grant us access to the natural world. —PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON AMERICANS OUTDOORS, Americans and the Outdoors,1987

There are all sorts of opportunities to link separated [open] spaces together, and while plenty of money is needed to do it, ingenuity can accomplish a great deal. Our metropolitan areas are crisscrossed with connective strips. Many are no longer used... but they are there if we only look. —WILLIAM WHYTE, The Last Landscape, 1968

They should form a framework of parks and forests connected by a series of paths and trails for general outdoor living. —BENTON MACKAYE, founder of the Appalachian Trail, 1879-1975

About the Author

During his career Jim Schmid served as South Carolina’s first State Trails Coordinator as well as working for the US Forest Service as a Trails Manager in AZ, ID, and FL and also had the pleasure of managing the Florida National Scenic Trail. Jim is a collector at heart. Check out his collection of trail quotes, terms, acronyms, sayings and more at In addition to updating his website and writing book reviews for American Trails Jim enjoys traveling around the country riding rail-trails and mtn bike trails.

Contact: [email protected]

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