GetAbout Q&A

Monday, August 11, 2008 | 9:29 p.m. CDT; updated 3:29 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q: Does a trail affect property values?


Effects on the environment

According to a 2005 study in Minneapolis by the University of Minnesota, being 1 percent farther from a trail has the following effects on property value:
— bike lane: no effect
— trail not near a road: -0.01 percent
— roadside trail, separated by grass from the road: +.026 percent

 For a suburban house, being 1 percent farther from a trail has the following effects on property values:
—  bike lane: +.0035 percent
— trail not near a road: +.0029 percent
— Roadside trail, separated by grass from the road: +0.0091 percent

Source: “Value of Trail Access on Home Purchases”

Related Articles

Professor David Levinson, department of civil engineering, University of Minnesota and co-author of "Value of Trail Access on Home Purchases," 2005:

"How a trail affects property values of course depends greatly on circumstances. Building a new off-road trail in the city would increase property values, as, in part, it is a recreational amenity. But additional trails in the suburbs are detrimental to property values. For example, people who live in the suburbs would pay a premium not to be too close to a trail, which might bring with it more people passing your house and is generally considered undesirable. This should not be used to construe whether new trails are overall positive or negative, just that they may have locally negative effects for adjacent and nearby property owners.

Being farther (from the trail) increases property value, so being nearer reduces property values. All in all, I suspect this is a relatively minor effect, especially compared to the effect on property value of adding a bathroom, for instance, although some people may be dissuaded from buying property backing onto an off-road trail."


Julie Wesley, House of Brokers Realty, and a realtor in Columbia since 1982:

"I continuously have clients that are looking for houses that are next to trails. There are just a few subdivisions that back up to the MKT trail right now, and I have a few clients waiting for these houses to go on sale.

"People like the trails for convenience: being able to just hop on it, to bike to work or just to get out and walk for exercise. A lot of people who work at the university like to get on it and bike to work. It just makes it easier for them to have that option to travel, especially with gas prices so high. It's always been a real positive thing here. But I guess I would assume some people might not want it because they think it might not be private, but even houses in my neighborhood, around the trails, they achieve their privacy with trees and vegetation."


Q: How does a trail affect the safety of our neighborhood?


Katie Test, public relations manager for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization that transforms unused railway corridors into trails:

"Communities that might be anxious at first usually find that trails bring a sense of community and security because they connect them as neighbors. They tend to form a neighborhood watch-out on the trail. You see your neighbors, your family; it really becomes like your backyard, so it makes them feel safer. They really form a sense of watching out for each other.

"You're watching to see the regular activity out on the trail. What you're really doing is gathering up your neighborhood and offering a sense of community. They really make the trail their own and owning everything that happens out on the trail. People form ‘trail watch' programs with designated rangers, or a ‘friends group', with people in the neighborhood who watch out for the trail and clean it."

Q: Does a trail affect the local wildlife?


Jennifer Battson, regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation:

"The wildlife in Columbia are probably already accustomed to urbanization. For the most part, they are going to learn when people are on the trails and when people are not on the trails. When people get a chance to be in the natural world, so to speak, the animals will adapt.

"(Animals) are already familiar with human interference and they've been able to maintain their habitats. If I were living (near wildlife), I wouldn't be concerned about not hearing the wildlife once a trail is put in. The local wildlife becomes so accustomed that they go about their normal business, and it's not a threatening situation for them. Maybe they'll go through a transition period with people coming through the forest, but they'll learn it pretty quickly."


Q: Will trees be cut down?


Steve Saitta, park development superintendent for Columbia Parks and Recreation Department:

"We try to avoid removing as many trees as we possibly can when we put the trails in to reduce the impact on a particular site. We align (the paths) in a way to avoid the more desirable trees, often the larger trees. We're very sensitive when we're trying to fit these trails to these types of surroundings. We're looking at what a given population would be in a certain area. If we get into an area that's densely wooded, we evaluate what the better trees would be, what the natural species mix would be. Soft maple, sycamore, oak, among many others - these would be trees that we are generally trying to keep.

"We basically prioritize the stand when choosing which trees to take out. You're not creating much of an impact as far as removal on any one particular species when you remove them. You kind of weigh out which trees are more desirable and which we would sacrifice. We will always try to minimize the environmental impact in an area, thereby saving the more desirable species, and we accomplish this by a slight shifting of the trail."

Q: How does a trail affect the plant life?


Jennifer Battson, regional supervisor for the Missouri Department of Conservation:

"Sometimes (in the environment) you get a stagnant stand, where you don't have any younger trees coming in and when you open things up (by clearing a path for a trail), a lot of times it gets more grassy and more plants growing in. It adds to the diversity. Think of it like setting the table; Which would you prefer - 15 bowls of potato chips or a buffet? Additional growths and things like that wouldn't necessarily happen if we weren't creating. The more sunlight we bring into the area means more insects and more ground available to wildlife."


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.