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Kids & Trails

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Discover a whole new way to get children and families outdoors on the trail! by increasing outdoor play opportunities and promoting community health through play.

arrow Explore a Pathways for Play National Demonstration Site October 31 in Atlanta

arrow Two Pathways for Play webinars have been hosted by American Trails, PlayCore, and the Natural Learning Initiative. We highlight ways to integrate play— critical for children's health— into trail networks to provide opportunities for playing along the way, and encouraging use by children and families! We'll be making these webinars available online later in 2011.

arrow From the Fall 2010 issue of the American Trails Magazine

arrow Request the Pathways for Play Guidebook

Pathways for Play title

Infusing play into pathways to encourage active lifestyles for children, families, and communities


Pathways, like musical scores, can be “played” by the user. Pathways that cater to children and families offer numerous benefits, including health promotion, play value, inclusion, engagement with nature, environmental learning, walkable and bikeable community connectivity, and growth of social capital. As populations increase and urban development continues, pathways will play a critical role as community assets. Designing them with children and families in mind is an important priority.

photo of kids running on book cover

The Pathways for Play guidebook is designed to help bring more
opportunities for play into community trail systems

PlayCore and the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) have partnered to develop Pathways for Play, a comprehensive program that provides solutions for creating attractive, playful pathways for children, youth, and families. The Pathways for Play guidebook is a valuable education tool for integrating play— critical for children’s health— into walkable, bikeable shared-use community pathway networks infused with “play pockets,” providing opportunities for play along the way and encouraging continuous movement.

Other program components include online resources, educational activities, and unique mobile applications to enhance the experience of pathway users.

The Pathways for Play strategy is driven by 5 best practice design principles:

1. Infusing play and learning value into pathways

2. Creating multiuse, inclusive pathways

3. Connecting pathways to meaningful destinations

4. Locating pathways where children live

5. Applying appropriate themes and messages

Join the Movement!

PlayCore continues to seek National Demonstration Sites to lead the way in designing innovative play environments that integrate play along pathway networks. For more information about Pathways for Play, becoming a National Demonstration Site, or receiving a copy of the Pathways for Play best practice guidebook, visit

20th American Trails National Symposium Workshops

Trails professionals met at the 20th American Trails National Symposium in Chattanooga, TN for special mobile and featured workshops detailing the best practices outlined in the guidebook.

playcore logo




About PlayCore

PlayCore helps build stronger communities around the world by advancing play through research, education, and partnerships. The company infuses this learning into its complete family of brands— GameTime, UltraSite, UltraShelter, UltraPlay, GT Grandstands, Snug, Play & Park Structures, TotTurf, Everlast Climbing, and Swing-N-Slide. PlayCore combines best-in-class planning and education programs with the most comprehensive array of recreation products available to create play solutions that match the unique needs of each community served. Visit to learn more.

Natural Learning Initiative logo



About the Natural Learning Initiative

The Natural Learning Initiative is a research, design assistance, and professional development program of the College of Design, North Carolina State University. The purpose of the Natural Learning Initiative is to promote the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children, through environmental design, action research, education, and dissemination of information. Visit to learn more.

For more resources and programs on Kids and Trails, visit

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