Trails for the Twenty-first Century

Balmori, Diana, Charles A. Flink, Peter Lagerwey, and Robert M. Searns, ed. Karen-Lee Ryan, National Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Trails for the Twenty-First Century:  Planning, Design, and Management Manual for Multi-Use Trails, Island Press, 1993

Communities across the country are working to convert unused railway and canal corridors into trails for pedestrians, cyclists, horseback riders, and others, serving the needs of both recreationists and commuters alike. These multi-use trails can play a key role in improving livability, as they offer an innovative means of addressing sprawl, revitalizing urban areas, and reusing degraded lands.

Trails for the Twenty-first Century is a step-by-step guide to all aspects of the planning, design, and management of multi-use trails. Originally published in 1993, this completely revised and updated edition offers a wealth of new information including:

·         discussions of recent regulations and federal programs, including ADA and TEA-21

·         recently revised design standards from AASHTO

·         current research on topics ranging from trail surfacing to conflict resolution

·         information about designing and building trails in brownfields and other

·         environmentally troubled landscapes

Also included is a new introduction that describes the importance of rail-trails to the sustainable communities movement, and an expanded discussion of maintenance costs. Enhanced with a wealth of illustrations,Trails for the Twenty-first Century provides detailed guidance on topics such as: taking a physical inventory and assessment of a site; involving the public and meeting the needs of adjacent landowners; understanding and complying with existing legislation; designing, managing, and promoting a trail; and where to go for more information. It is the only comprehensive guidebook available for planners, landscape architects, local officials, and community activists interested in creating a multi-use trail.


Charles A. Flink is president of Greenways, Inc. in Cary, North Carolina and an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University.

Kristine Olka is a planner with Greenways, Inc.

Robert M. Searns, AICP, is with Urban Edges, a consulting firm specializing in trail and greenway design based in Littleton, Colorado.

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, based in Washington, D.C., is a national nonprofit membership organization that seeks to facilitate the conversion of abandoned rail corridors and connect open space into a nationwide network of public trails.