An unfinished Greenway integral to the Florida trail picture

You may be interested in how we’re positioning inclusion of the East Coast Greenway in the new Visit Florida trails website even though the paved off-road trail itself is only (albeit a welcome) roughly 30 percent complete.

The Greenway is like certain other trails that represent Florida as a one-of-a-kind destination. Trails that come to mind include the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, the 110-mile long Cross-Florida Greenway, and the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail that rims the entire Florida coast between far western Pensacola and far northeastern Fernandina Beach.

These trails pass through and/or rim environmental and heritage landmarks that include national coastal wildlife refuges, national seashores, the Everglades, the Florida Reef, some 50 lighthouses, the largest freshwater lake that doesn’t freeze in winter, the oldest city in America, the route of the railroad that developed Florida, the last Spanish town platted in the New World, national forests and dozens of state parks organized around native plant and animal life, many with preserved mansions.

All of these trails remain unfinished yet these and others in various stages of completion and incompletion already attract visitors and will attract far greater numbers once information about them is accessible through a well publicized website.

It’s in the nature of trails that they’re often incomplete, often waiting for extension and combining. Trail users ourselves tend to be adventurous, wanting to go where others haven’t yet gone, attuned to incompletion. Partly this is the legacy of trails that figured greatly in American life and today our re-invigorated heritage commemorated by trails such as the Lewis and Clark Trail, the Cumberland Trail, and the Trail of Tears. We’re excited by almost whatever we find and ready to sample what in time we’re certain will become popular features of how we live.

These unfinished trails are precisely those that will generate the buzz that attracts others but that also generates the urge and desire to finish these trails sooner than later. Hardly anything will keep interest fresh for users than word that this or that one-of-a-kind trail has recently been further extended or the announcement of new plans or new funding toward its completion. Trail users celebrate this news almost as much as we celebrate using trails themselves. Trail users are precisely out front in word-of-mouth communications. “Word” is news, and news is buzz, which is to say, what makes others, newer to trails, ready to go where they’re hearing about.

Grasp this and the importance of blogging about trails also becomes clear. Lists and data alone won’t communicate nearly as well as will lists and data combined with user buzz. The website will be good. The website with blog combined will be real good.

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