DURHAM, N.C. — It’s the year of the trail in North Carolina. Greenway designers say with all the growth happening in the state, investing in this resource is great for communities, tourism and the economy.


What You Need To Know 

There are more than 300 miles of paved trails in the Triangle area 

Greenways are one of the most popular amenities in neighborhoods and communities 

Iona Thomas is a greenway designer at McAdams

She says this resource helps with tourism, economy and recreation  


Greenway designer Iona Thomas and her dog, Tsali, are an inseparable pair. Every day you can find them getting ready for their daily walk. Thomas and Tsali love trails. Thomas lives on a trail, designs trails and even named her dog after a trail.

“I feel like sometimes my employer should pay me to be out on trails, because that's where all the best thinking happens,” Thomas said.

Thomas specifically bought her house right near the American Tobacco Trail. She says parks and recreation surveys across the country show that trails are the number one thing people want in their communities.

“When I first moved here, there were very few developments on the trail," Thomas said. "Now there are all of these developments backing right up to the trail, and they're advertising, ‘Hey, come live on the trail, because it's an amenity.’”

With more than 300 miles of paved trails just in the Triangle area, it’s a growing resource. Thomas and her team at McAdams are in charge of designing these trails. 

“They don't want to design anything else because they, like me, believe that trails can change a little tiny part of the world,” Thomas said.

Iona Thomas's dog, Tsali, is named after a trail.

There’s a lot that goes into designing, building, funding and maintaining these complicated engineering projects.

“Hopefully when these folks are out here using these trails, they're not thinking about any of these things,” Thomas said. “They're just thinking that they're out for a great time, and they never notice all of the work that we put in to making the trail the way it is. They're just experiencing it.”

This year is the designated Year of the Trail in North Carolina. Thomas is hoping to raise awareness about this special network and create new users.

“I’m excited to have a legislature that sees the benefits and the power of trails to transform North Carolina into what we all are working towards,” Thomas said. “Which is a place that is economically vibrant but that also holds on to our natural heritage and really celebrates the natural world and provides access to the natural world.”

For more information on how to use and find trails or learn more special events or merchandise, you can visit greattrailsnc.com.

(Spectrum News 1)