Find out about the ambitious effort to establish a network of regional trails and greenways that connect the cities, centers, parks, natural areas and neighborhoods of the region.
From the quiet beauty of Forest Park’s earthen Wildwood Trail to the noisy elegance of the Eastbank Esplanade, regional trails are like we are – they come in all shapes and sizes. Different trails are designed to suit different needs. Some, like the I-205 Corridor Trail, are best for bike commuters and people on the go. Others take you into a more natural setting where you might stroll beneath circling red-tailed hawks or float past great blue herons standing regally along the riverbank.
The growing popularity of outdoor recreation activities, such as walking and running, cycling, skateboarding and wildlife observation, has increased the need for quality regional trails. Higher gas prices and congestion on our roads has also gotten more people to consider walking and biking rather than driving their cars. Regional trails enhance our communities by linking neighborhoods and schools to parks, employment, shopping and other parts of our daily lives.
Two decades ago, the Metropolitan Greenspaces Master Plan outlined a vision for 1,200 miles of regional trails and greenways – a connected network that makes it easier to explore, relax, exercise and commute. Some 300 miles have been built, with a burst of progress taking place since 2006.
Read about regional trail accomplishments. Go
Park providers, local cities and citizens have worked for decades to establish a network of trails linking parks to local communities and other area attractions. In April 2008 the Metro Council appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails to take the work the community has developed, evaluate where regional trails fit in the region's priorities and recommend potential strategies for expanding the region's trail network.
The committee agreed that regional trails are important to the community but they went much further in their recommendations, making the case that investments in bike and pedestrian travel will produce significant environmental, livability, health and economic benefits to the region. They also agreed that the timing is right for a truly integrated mobility strategy for the region.
Regional trails differ from local trails in certain ways. For example, regional trails typically are separated from road ways – either with curbs, plantings or other barriers. The barriers make these trails safer for recreational users and reduce conflicts with automobile traffic, which can make them quicker for commuters.
Regional trails are usually larger in scope than neighborhood trails – crossing neighborhood lines and linking cities, counties and even states. They also form connections between parks, natural areas and other trails. Regional trails are destinations themselves, but also take us from the places we live to the places we learn, work, shop and play.
When originally conceived 100 years ago, Portland's regional trail system was going to be 40 miles long, circling the city and linking public parks. Since then, the metropolitan area has done a lot of growing. Today the vision for a regional system of trails and greenways has expanded to nearly 30 cities and four counties within the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan region. Plans call for an 950-mile network of regional trails - including water trails and greenways - but only about 30 percent of them have been completed.
The Regional Trails and Greenways publication below describes each of the existing and proposed trails and greenways in the regional system as of June 2003. It also includes a detailed map of the system.
Read the Intertwine trail use snapshot, an analysis of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project data from 2008-10. Each year, volunteers from across the region gather along trails to count and survey people biking and walking on The Intertwine – the Portland metropolitan area's system of trails, parks and natural areas. What was learned from the first three years of counts and surveys? This report is a summary of the findings.Download the snapshot
To view MOV files, download free QuickTime.
Find out how Metro and partners across the region are working to complete the regional active transportation network.
A committee of civic, business and elected leaders gathered at Metro to think big about regional trails. Read their recommendations for investing in and planning our transportation systems to maximize mobility, livability and community.
The Metro Council is teaming up with governments, businesses, nonprofits and other nature lovers to create the world’s best network of parks, trails and natural areas.