A trail is usually a path, track or unpaved lane or road. In the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland path or footpath is the preferred term for a walking trail. The term is also applied, in North America, to routes along rivers, and sometimes to highways. In the US, the term was historically used for a route into or through wild territory used by emigrants (e.g. the Oregon Trail). Some trails are single use and can only be used for walking, cycling, horse riding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing; others, as in the case of a bridleway in the UK, are multi-use, and can be used by walkers, cyclists and equestrians. There are also unpaved trails used by dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles and in some places, like the Alps, trails are used for moving cattle and other livestock.

In Australia, the term track can be used interchangeably with trail, and can refer to anything from a dirt road to an unpaved pedestrian path.

In New Zealand, the terms track or walkway are used almost exclusively except in reference to cross-country skiing: "walkways vary enormously in nature, from short urban strolls, to moderate coastal locations, to challenging tramps in the high country ".[1] Walkway is used similarly in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, where the "Grand Concourse", is an integrated walkway system.[2]

In the United Kingdom, the term trail is in common usage. Longer distance walking routes, and government-promoted long distance paths, collectively known as National Trails, are also frequently called ways; as in the Pennine Way and South Downs Way. Generally the term footpath is preferred for pedestrian routes, including long distance trails, and is also used for urban paths and sometimes in place of pavement. Track is used for wider paths (wide enough for vehicles), often used for hiking. The terms bridleway, byway, restricted byway are all recognised legal terms and to a greater or lesser extent in general usage.

The increased popularity of mountain biking has led to a proliferation of mountain bike trails in many countries. Often these will be grouped to form larger complexes, known as trail centers.

In the early years of the 20th century, the term auto trail was used for a marked highway route, and trail is now also used to designate routes, including highway routes, designated for tourist interest like the Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia, Canada and the Quilt Trails in the US. The term trail has also been used by developers and urban planners for a variety of modern paved roads, highways, and boulevards, in these countries, and some highways continue to be officially called a trail, such as the Susquehanna Trail in Pennsylvania, a designation that varies from a two-lane road to a four-lane freeway. A particularly unusual use of the term is in the Canadian province of Alberta, which has multi-lane freeways called trails.

Trail segregation, the practice of designating certain trails as having a specific preferred or exclusive use, is increasingly common and diverse. For example, bike trails are used not only on roads open to motor vehicles, but also in trail systems open to other trail users. Some trails are segregated for use by both equestrians and mountain bikes, or by equestrians only, or by mountain bikes only. Designated "wilderness area" trails may be segregated for non-wheeled use (hence permit backpacking and horses but exclude mountain bikes and motorized vehicles).

Often, trail segregation for a particular use is accompanied by prohibitions against that use on other trails within the trail system. Trail segregation may be supported by signage, markings, trail design and construction (especially selection of tread materials), and by separation between parallel treads. Separation may be achieved by "natural" barriers including distance, ditching, banking, grading, and vegetation, and by "artificial" barriers including fencing, curbing, and walls.

This page was last edited on 7 July 2018, at 14:14 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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