Introduction to Special Issue Trails and Greenways: Opportunities for Planners, Managers, and Scholars


  • Roger L. Moore
  • C. Scott Shafer


Trails, greenways, recreation resources, research needs.


This paper presents an overview of trails and greenways as a field of practice and study. We start with definitions of both trails and greenways and consider some of the ways that they are separate but related. Historically, trails and greenways have been important parts of human activity through exploration and settlement. A brief overview of this history is provided in the North American context. Today trail and greenway development is seeing resurgence in urban areas and there are many organizations promoting trails that connect rural and urban areas enhancing recreation and transportation opportunities. Federal policies related to surface transportation (ISTEA/TEA 21) are providing funding that is helping to spawn the resurgence. Rail “banking” policy and nonprofit organizations have combined to help convert thousands of miles of abandoned rail line into trails. Research suggests that the benefits from trail and greenway resources extend from the individual experience as it relates to personal recreation and health, to the wider community through reduced automobile traffic, enhanced visual quality, conservation of natural values, economic development and others. The papers included address many of these issues. Our purpose here is to provide a current context for the special issue on trails and greenways, to introduce the contributions of some who are doing work in this area, and provide food for thought regarding research in the trails and greenway arena.