Power Lines Along Trails

Examples of electric transmission lines in shared utility corridors with trails, railtrails, and greenways

News Stuart Macdonald, Chair, National Assoc. of State Trail Administrators

Trails are often built in utility corridors of all kinds, from underground pipelines to electric power lines overhead.

There may be hundreds of trails across the country that follow power line corridors. Over the years some articles have raised concerns about electro magnetic fields (EMF) emanating from power lines. However, research seems to find that trails along electric lines are safe. 

While it easy to take a photo showing huge structures towering over trails, when you are actually hiking or riding along the corridor the poles or towers are not so obtrusive. In urban areas these utility corridors are often essential connectors because they are wide swaths through built-up area. In rural areas the dirt maintenance roads have been made available to bicyclists, OHV riders and snowmobilers through formal public use agreements.

The photos show a variety of examples of trails along power lines

About the Author

Stuart Macdonald spent 19 years as Colorado's State Trails Coordinator. He is the editor of American Trails Magazine. During 1998-99, he represented State Trail Administrators on the national committee that proposed regulations for accessible trails. He chaired the National Recreational Trails Committee, which advised the Federal Highway Administration in the first years of the Recreational Trails Program. Macdonald grew up in San Diego and his main outdoor interest besides trails is surfing. He has a BA in English from San Francisco State and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from Utah State.

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