Strategic Trails Plan | New York City

Project Status: Plan Adopted

While New York City’s parks contain more than 300 miles of nature trails through 10,000 acres of natural land, less than half of those miles have been formalized into a coherent network. Due to growing demand and need the Natural Areas Conservancy (NAC) and its partners at the New York City Parks Department hired Street Plans and Penn Trails to develop the City’s first Strategic Trails Plan to improve accessibility to local trails and overall trail conditions.

In June 2021, the NAC released the New York City Strategic Trails Plan, which spans all five boroughs. The plan seeks to unify the existing network of trails within the 10,000 acres of natural areas in NYC Parks through trail markers, mapped and formalized paths, and routes designed to showcase unique ecological assets.The implementing the plan will also increase access to parks and recreation, and give New Yorkers a high quality experience in nature that many currently seek in parks outside of the city.

The plan quantifies the investment required to build and maintain a trails system by leveraging public, nonprofit, and corporate investments, as well as a corps of volunteers. The plan also provides the first trail management and design guidelines for New York City to preserve the existing trails, and also guide the creation of new trails.

More specifically, the plan offers way to create unified mapping, signage and design standards for all current and future nature trails; Identifies how to decommission informal trails and restore habitats on redundant and substandard trails segments; Establishes regular trail maintenance and programming in the spring, summer, and fall season; prioritizes connectivity with neighborhoods adjacent to parks with nature trails, with engaging environments at all trail heads; Build anew base of support from sponsors and philanthropies to ensure the trail system is fully funded, and every trail has a dedicated group of volunteers to assist in trail management and stewardship.