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Regional trails and greenways system

Planning and conservation    Natural areas, parks and trails    Planning parks and trails    Regional trails and greenways

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.

Springwater trail on the Willamette

The vision for a regional system of trails and greenways

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.

On our way to 1,200 miles

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

Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails expands the vision – and makes the case

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.

Committee outlines a plan of action

  1. Organizing leadership – including both elected leaders and citizen advocates.
  2. Demonstrating potential – with key pilot projects that show, on the ground, what value these investments bring to communities.
  3. Reducing costs – a key element to the recommended strategy is reducing the cost of creating each individual trail by reducing bureaucratic requirements and finding economies of scale by tackling larger projects.
  4. Developing a regional mobility strategy that better integrates and connects transportation investments in transit, bike and pedestrian facilities and guides how these investments are developed in the future.

Learn more about the Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails
Download the committee's case statement

What makes a trail regional?

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.

More information about regional trails

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.

Intertwine trail use snapshot, 2008-10

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

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Files and related materials

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Related Links

Active Transportation Program

Find out how Metro and partners across the region are working to complete the regional active transportation network.

Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails

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 Intertwine

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.

Impassioned civil discourse in your pajamas - Opt In

Regional roundtable

See the maps, benefits and list of partners for the 20 trail packages being reviewed by the Blue Ribbon Committee for Trails, which is working to propose a funding strategy to complete the region's network of bicycle and walking trails.

Places and Activities

The Intertwine is the name for the region's ever-growing network of integrated parks, trails and natural areas. See a regional map of The Intertwine's best-loved outdoor recreation and education locations, and find nature activities, bike rides, bird walks, volunteer opportunities and many workshops on the calendar.

Explore the map
Browse the calendar

Protected by voters

Chehalem Ridge

12,000 acres and counting

Thanks to two voter-approved bond measures, the Metro Natural Areas Program has protected more than 12,000 acres across the Portland metropolitan area. Caring for this land enhances water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities for future generations. Learn more

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