How Art Brings Value to the Trail

December 5, 2018

Trails are a great way to provide recreational opportunities. They are a means of connectivity within a community and can also serve as a tourism destination. While providing transportation, trails can offer conservation and educational benefits.

Trails have been proven to boost a community’s image and economic value, while improving the quality of life and happiness for those who use them.

They also increase walkability within our neighborhoods. Trails can elevate property values and even provide the potential for venue development along the route.

But are you activating your trails?

Trails say a lot about a community’s character and identity. For example, cultural, environmental or historical components that are designed along a trail’s route can provide users valuable information about the area and its past—engaging and educating them along the way. Art pieces create visual interest and make the trail more inviting. These are components that may tell a story and often show what is unique about a community.

Before you know it, the public has a greater appreciation for the environment around them. Trail usage has increased, prompting more projects along the trail. It promotes more community activity in general.

Types of Trail Art

Trail art can be permanent or ephemeral. Examples of permanent art include architectural elements such as gateways, monuments and signage. Other permanent components include recycled art/chainsaw art, existing natural features and murals. These lists are not inclusive, but they show examples that can be explored depending on a community’s vision and goals.

The following slideshow provides examples of permanent art fixtures that can supplement a trail:

  • Architectural elements

  • Interpretive pieces

  • Murals

  • Historical features

  • Natural features

  • Gardens

  • Architectural destinations

  • Sculptures

  • Recycled art

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Meanwhile, temporary art is more interactive for trail users. These types of activities easily involve local talent, include activities for all ages and display the uniqueness of the community. Preparation and performance of these activities provide opportunities for interaction with multiple groups that might not occur otherwise.

The following slideshow provides examples of temporary art found along the trail:

  • Pop-up activities

  • Festivals

  • Performing arts

  • Art exhibits

  • Music

  • Culinary outings

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The Story Behind Destination Parks

Much like trails across this country, destination parks have stories to tell. What’s behind the design? Where do the ideas come from? What does the space say to its visitors?

Click the play button and take a stroll through the park with us.

For more information about trail and park design or Halff’s Planning and Landscape Architecture team, write to