Monday, March 26, 2012

Trails, trails, everywhere are trails

I watch a lot of House Hunters on HGTV. I DVR all the new episodes (domestic and international), and watching it I've noticed a trend: all of the homeowners want a sense of place. All  of them - 100%. They want to be close to downtown, want to walk to restaurants and shops, they want parks, and they really want trails. 

As I was running 12 miles this weekend on the Caperton Trail in Morgantown, West Virginia, I was thinking about this common theme of placemaking on House Hunters, and how vibrant communities almost always have trails for running, biking, and walking.  Nearly every time I visit my parents I run on the trail in Morgantown. The Caperton Trail is only 6 miles, but it connects to the Deckers Creek and Mon River Trails for a total of 48 miles worth of trailway in northern West Virginia. That's incredible, and it's an important resource for the region.

Caperton Trail in Morgantown, WV
I do the majority of my running in Lansing on the Lansing River Trail. It is such an asset to the community, and every time I hit the trail I am grateful that there is a dedicated recreation space in our town. 
Lansing River Trail near Old Town
The creation of trails is a trend nationwide, and residents are beginning to expect it. As I've run during my travels, I've run 12 miles on the Mount Vernon Trail in Washington, DC. Lansing utilizes its river trail for the Capital City River Run each fall, but they aren't the only one. The river trails play a key part in the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend, IN and the Knoxville Marathon in Knoxville, TN. While during a race these river trial portions tend to be the quietest with the fewest spectators, it serves as a statement to me that these trails are a critical part of placemaking in so many communities.

Beautiful views from the Mount Vernon Trail in Washington, DC
I grew up in the town of Hundred, West Virginia, a town of about 344 people (according to the 2000 census) in the northern part of the state.  When I was in high school the town began converting the old railroad tracks to create a trailway to connect various communities. I didn't realize then that even this small town in the middle of bloody nowhere was working to create a sense of place. Those trails are an important resource for the region's residents.

Rails to Trails in Hundred, WV. I grew up just a few houses down from this spot.
As both a runner and a believer of placemaking, I'm so grateful to live in a community that has a recreational trail. Lansing has 13 miles of trails, and I've run each and every one of them many times.  And as I travel, I look for and appreciate those communities who have safe running trails that I can borrow. Happy trails to all of you!   



  1. That's awesome that Hundred has a Rail to Trail. I wish Charleston would get on the stick and actually finish theirs. They've been talking about it for years, but nothing's been done. Running/walking along the river is nice on Kanawha Blvd., but it's not very long compared to some of these others and it gets crowded when the weather is nice.

  2. I had no idea Charleston hadn't finished theirs. It'd be so perfect there! I hope they'll get to it soon. It would be a great asset.