January 26, 2011 11:26 AM   Subscribe

Name me some awesome (U.S. and international) urban greenways (waterfronts, linear parks, bike/pedestrian areas, etc.).

I am interested in doing a journal/travel plan on some of the best completed (or near completed) greenway systems in the world. NYC's Hudson greenway and Highline are two of my favorites. What are some more?
posted by taiscape to Travel & Transportation (51 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Schuylkill River Trail in Philadelphia
posted by The Michael The at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2011

Minneapolis has the Grand Rounds which follows lake shores and streams and green spaces on a tour of the entire city.
posted by vytae at 11:35 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by AlliKat75 at 11:36 AM on January 26, 2011

Much of the San Francisco Bay is ringed by the Bay Trail. Eventually it will be about 400-500 miles long, and about 240 miles are complete. Much of it is extremely beautiful, and highly varied, from heavy industry to salt marshes to bluffs to downtown SF. It is not complete yet, but it is coming along, with a number of key links recently completed and others on their way.

The Bay Area Ridge Trail also rings the bay, but in parks in the hills above the bay. Also lovely, if not quite yet complete.
posted by rockindata at 11:37 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Stanley Park, Vancouver BC. Big trees, waterfront, beaches, trails, bike path, aquarium, totems.
posted by ddaavviidd at 11:38 AM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

In Western New York, you've got the Genesee Valley Greenway which gets you from Letchworth State Park north to Lake Ontario, or you can hook up with the Erie Canal, of which there are a couple hundred miles of path you can bike or walk along.
posted by knile at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2011

Chicago's Lakefront Trail runs 18 miles along the shore, seven miles of which are through the much wider Lincoln Park.
posted by theodolite at 11:40 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Portland's Springwater Corridor.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:43 AM on January 26, 2011

Well, Boston has a long linear park over the Big Dig tunnels, grassy areas where the highway used to be, but I don't find them as interesting in practice as in concept.

Chicago's waterfront parks along Lake Michigan stretch a large percentage of Lakeshore Drive, though they go through several different names and moods (sculpture park, beachfront, event/festival sites, jogging paths, museum campus, etc).

Most cities that involve a river have a long winding riverbank park because the river floods periodically and there's not much point in zoning the land for any kind of structural use. The Cook County Forest Preserve network around Chicago, for example, follows the Des Plains River as it winds through the western part of the city and suburbs. Boston's Fenway (the fens, not the stadium) is a similar river park.
posted by aimedwander at 11:45 AM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Boston's Emerald Necklace
Promenade Plantée, Paris
NYC High Line

The last two are elevated sections originally designed for trains and eventually repurposed.
posted by whatzit at 11:45 AM on January 26, 2011

It's not huge but the Shelby Bottoms greenway in Nashville is pretty nice and connects directly to several other paths so you can go quite a distance on car-free trails along the Cumberland and Stones rivers.
posted by ghharr at 11:47 AM on January 26, 2011

Boston's Charles River Bike Path has signs that say it's part of a larger greenway - maybe the East Coast Greenway?
posted by ldthomps at 11:54 AM on January 26, 2011

I dunno how it stacks up in the grand scheme of things, but the Barton Creek Greenbelt in Austin is terribly neat. Rocks, water, trees - what more could you ask for?
posted by restless_nomad at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2011

In DC, we've got the
Metropolitan Branch Trail
Capital Crescent Trail (and connecting Georgetown Branch Trail)
The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail is being built, and will probably be the closest thing to an actual "greenway" in the city.
Mount Vernon Trail
The Washington & Old Dominion Trail.
The epic C&O Towpath that runs mostly uninterrupted from DC to Pittsburgh.
Further south, there's the under-construction Virginia Capital Trail from Richmond to Jamestown via Williamsburg.
Up in Maryland, there's the Rock Creek Trail. DC's Rock Creek Park is also pretty linear, as the park follows the eponymous creek (which provides a psychological and physical barrier between the richest and poorest sections of Washington, but I digress).

Also, don't forget the East Coast Greenway, which is a serious effort to create a contiguous urban greenway from Maine to Florida. It's one of the best (and least known) public works projects on the books in the US today.
posted by schmod at 11:56 AM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Henry Hudson Bike trail in New Jersey (if you're in NYC you can probably take a ferry to get to it). I haven't tried it yet but it's on my to-do list.
posted by exhilaration at 12:00 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seattle's Burke-Gilman Trail
posted by Diddly at 12:02 PM on January 26, 2011

Also the Delaware and Raritan Canal state park in New Jersey, between New Brunswick and Princeton. It's 32 miles but unpaved. I've ridden it and it's pretty nice if your tires, butt, and arms can handle it.
posted by exhilaration at 12:07 PM on January 26, 2011

The American River Parkway is amazing. There are 32 miles of beautiful bike path.
posted by aniola at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Turia River Gardens of Valencia, Spain. Link. Link. Flickr.
posted by donpedro at 12:16 PM on January 26, 2011

In Davis, there are miles and miles of greenbelt. If you visit the American River Parkway in Sacramento, I recommend dropping by Davis to bike the Davis Bike Loop. Actually, it's worth a visit all on its own.
posted by aniola at 12:19 PM on January 26, 2011

Along the north shore of Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence Seaway is the 800km waterfront trail.
posted by saucysault at 12:25 PM on January 26, 2011

Newport Beach's Back Bay
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:27 PM on January 26, 2011

The Natchez Trace is 444 miles long, very quiet, peaceful, and historical. Memphis's new Greenline is not very long yet, but plans are to expand it to include a stretch across the Mississippi River.
posted by raisingsand at 12:35 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hopefully coming soon to Chicago: The Bloomingdale Trail which would re-purpose an old elevated freight line.

Madison, WI has the most extensive network of bike paths I've ever seen. Many of them run through greenways. Here's a map (pdf).
posted by hydrophonic at 12:36 PM on January 26, 2011

Kennebec River Rail Trail in Maine.
posted by JanetLand at 12:45 PM on January 26, 2011

Boise GreenBelt
posted by 8dot3 at 1:08 PM on January 26, 2011

Not sure if this is what you mean, but San Antonio, TX, has the River Walk.
posted by elder18 at 1:20 PM on January 26, 2011

Munich has an extensive network of bike trails and paths running parallel to the Isar, much of which run through the Englischer Garten. There's also the M-Wasserweg (German), which goes from the Tegernsee all the way to Munich along paths that follow the city of Munich's water source to its destination. At least some of this is urban.
posted by kdar at 1:31 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Birmingham, AL, has the new Railroad Park, an urban greenway right in the middle of downtown. It's small now, only 19 acres, but the plan is to eventually connect it via bike and walking paths to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, a hundred-acre preserve carved out of an old suburb that has nice hiking trails and bird-watching spots.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:33 PM on January 26, 2011

Just to clarify, New York's High Line is not really a greenway - more of a park. You can't use a bike or any other form of transportation on it. While it's an attractive way for a pedestrian to get from 20th to 13th street without waiting at a stoplight, you could say the same thing for any other park in the city.

In Brooklyn you've got the Ocean* and Eastern Parkway greenways.

And apparently the city is working to develop a "Brooklyn-Queens Greenway" composed of separated paths from Coney Island to Fort Totten. Right now I think a few parts are sidewalks and bike lanes from park to park (and looking at their maps it seems that part of that is through sketchy East New York!), but they've got a good chunk of the route fully separated from the urban landscape.

*Ocean Parkway's greenway is the oldest in the US!
posted by Sara C. at 1:34 PM on January 26, 2011

Oh, and there's also the North County Trail and South County trail in Westchester - this connects northern Westchester Co. with the Bronx, almost entirely separate from the urban/suburban landscape car traffic. Though I found that the trail actually peters off somewhere in Yonkers; the idea that it really connects to the Bronx is a little optimistic.
posted by Sara C. at 1:37 PM on January 26, 2011

Calgary has 700 km of pathways [PDF], including a very nice system along the Bow river. You can ride (stamina permitting - it's about 30 km one way) from the downtown all the way to Fish Creek Provincial Park, one of the largest urban parks in North America. The paths include sections that are mode-separated ("wheels" and "heels", i.e. cyclists/rollerbladers separated from walkers/joggers) and sections that are plowed in the winter.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 1:40 PM on January 26, 2011

Albuquerque Open Space.
posted by annsunny at 1:47 PM on January 26, 2011

The Katy Trail crosses most of Missouri. It is a rail-to-trail, with some really pretty scenery.
posted by AgentRocket at 1:51 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Grand Rounds in Mpls are also intersected by the Midtown Greenway.
posted by clavicle at 1:55 PM on January 26, 2011

The river pathway system in Calgary. It goes along the Bow river, Elbow river, Fish creek, the Weaselhead, Glenmore reservoir, and other creeks and parks. All of these are in the city, but perhaps you would only call the inner city parts of the Elbow and Bow "urban".
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:58 PM on January 26, 2011

I haven't seen anyone else mention the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Trail Finder but it seems highly applicable to your search, at least within the US.
posted by xueexueg at 2:12 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Boulder, Colorado's open space could technically be considered a greenway, and I consider the Boulder Creek path to be one of the best urban bike/pedestrian paths ever.
posted by mynameisluka at 2:39 PM on January 26, 2011

The Rose Kennedy Greenway, which replaced the highway running through downtown Boston and the Farmington Canal Trail in CT/MA.
posted by dayspteh at 2:44 PM on January 26, 2011

I'm a big fan of our local Ogden River Parkway.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:29 PM on January 26, 2011

Portland, Maine has the Portland Trails
posted by Sukey Says at 3:46 PM on January 26, 2011

Victoria BC has the Sea to Sea Blue Green Belt which is kinda patchy and unfinished, but very, very beautiful.

We also have the Galloping Goose Trail.
posted by klanawa at 3:56 PM on January 26, 2011

The Great Allegheny Passage goes from Cumberland to Duquesne (near Pittsburgh). Hopefully it will eventually get to Pittsburgh, but I hear there are some issues with getting land rights to get all the way there.
posted by that girl at 4:56 PM on January 26, 2011

Oh, that doesn't really fit the "urban" part. I hope it's still useful!
posted by that girl at 5:04 PM on January 26, 2011

The Greenway in Minneapolis is pretty awesome! The Kenilworth Trail and the Cedar Lake Trail in Minneapolis are also really, really nice.
posted by superlibby at 6:02 PM on January 26, 2011

South Mountain Park in Phoenix, Arizona. Only the largest city park in the world. With probably some of the best singletrack, fwiw.
posted by RockyChrysler at 6:46 PM on January 26, 2011

La promenade plantée in Paris, which inspired the High Line.
posted by bru at 6:53 PM on January 26, 2011

The Stanley Park path mentioned by ddaavviidd up-thread is just a tiny part of the real picture. In actuality, there is a Bike Path which actually extends from Pt. Grey past Spanish Banks all the way out in the west in UBC, then past Kits Beach then completely around False Creek, to then hook up with the Stanley Park portion of the route. There are a couple of places where you are redirected for a few blocks off the beach along some side-streets ( Alma to MacDonald) but it is pretty a dedicated and separated bike path completely divorced from the roadway, pretty much all the way along waterfront around the entire city. If you ever come here to do it I will take you!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:51 PM on January 26, 2011

couldn't find an english official website, but Copenhagen has the "grønne cykelruter" which are all over the city. Some are almost completely separate from the car traffic. I did find a web article about them here. Denmark, in general, is super bike accessible from one coast to the other.
posted by alchemist at 12:34 AM on January 27, 2011

Here in my area (Blount County, TN), we have a lovely greenbelt park (PDF) connecting Maryville and Alcoa. There is a master plan (gigantic PDF) to connect the Blount greenbelt with the larger trail system in Knoxville (not a PDF) and the bike path that runs through Townsend and into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The 61 mile Silver Comet Trail connects Metro Atlanta to the 33 mile Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama deserves a shout too.
posted by workerant at 9:05 AM on January 27, 2011

Montreal's historic Lachine Canal.
posted by Cuke at 9:42 AM on January 27, 2011

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