The Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Virginia exemplifies how trails can serve multiple recreation and transportation purposes. (Photo: Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)
Converted rail corridors make ideal linear parks. They are the most cost-effective way to provide safe off-road hiking, bicycling, roller skating and saddle riding facilities in their communities. One of the many ways that they are environmentally-friendly is that motorized vehicles are rarely permitted. And the simple mechanics of railroading dictate that there will be only small changes in elevation along the grade, making them well-suited for all ages and physical capabilities.
Fayetteville and Cumberland and Harnett Counties have a variety of physical fitness resources available through their Parks and Recreation Departments, as well as commercial gyms and fitness centers. However, despite the widespread recognition that exercise is important for maintaining good health in all stages of life, the U.S. Surgeon General estimates that 60% of American adults are not regularly active and 25% are not active at all. One of the main reasons given is that exercise is boring. Rail-Trails have been shown to make it easier and more interesting for people to engage in physical activity. While there are plans for a greenway trail along the Cape Fear River, the fact is that Fayetteville is currently not very pedestrian- or bicycle-friendly.
An Overhills Rail-Trail would facilitate development of enjoyable and effective exercise programs, and the lack of steep variations in grade virtually guarantees accessibility by the handicapped.