Trails are not just an American concept.
by Stuart Macdonald, Trail Consultant, American Trails
We usually think of trails as an American concept, an outgrowth of our vast landscape, mountains, and public lands. However, greenways and trail systems are a growing interest in many countries: from mountain bike trail systems to urban river corridors to long-distance pathways. Just as technology is shared around the world, we are exporting our trail concepts as well as learning from other countries.
As we have learned from the European tradition of footpaths and dedicated bikeways, other countries are learning from our explosion of community trails and rail trails. England has served as our example for public rights of way, and how canal towpaths could serve walkers and cyclists. Other countries have learned from the American experience with rail corridor preservation.
Asian and Pacific countries are also finding that trails benefit both tourism and transportation. In the upcoming Spring (Spring 2012) edition of American Trails Magazine, readers will find articles and photos of a remarkable new bicycle touring trail system in New Zealand, as well as a new and expansive greenway system for southeast China.
Americans should be proud of our contributions to world health, recreation, and conservation through our ambitious development of many concepts of trails. But we should also be eager to learn from the many ways trails are being re-invented and re-created throughout the world.
We welcome your suggestions for trails and resources to add to our international collection.
— Stuart Macdonald, Editor
Encouraging different types of users to share the trail is just as important on urban trails as it is on backcountry trails.
Low water crossings are designed to allow normal flow under the trail, and to be over-topped during seasonal floods.
Bring a camera on the trail!
Questions and Answers to help trail managers respond to recent Department of Justice rule on Wheelchairs and Other Power-Driven Mobility Devices (updated February 19, 2011)
Separate trails in the same corridor provide for different activities.