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What is the value of a trail?

By Judy Craig

I’ve worked in Real Estate for 29 years. I see a lot of different properties and the assets that impact their value. Some may have a pool; others may be on a golf course or back up to a park. When we evaluate the market value to help a client making a change, we look at the value that additional and unique feature brings to the property. Would that same home without being on a park intrigue as many buyers?

Bike and walking trails are also one of these tangible and unique assets. If you take the same four bedroom, two story and place it on or near a trail, the value of the trail version is always 2–5% more than those not on or near a trail. We use language highlighting a trail in the marketing remarks we make, explaining how this trail will bring value by providing access for walking, biking, etc. In the St. Croix Valley, the Gateway Trail and the Brown’s Creek Trail are excellent examples of this. Appraisers will add value when reporting to the mortgage companies also. It’s hard to put an exact number to this, but we all know it’s an addition to the value, a given fact in our industry.

While evaluating the value impact of a trail, I’ve also looked at the impact to the local businesses located near trails. It’s fun to ride a bike to pick up groceries or stop for coffee. Heck, I’ve even biked to the Gasthaus for a German beer. Lunch by bike is lovely. I support and encourage the engagement for local shops and restaurants through the walking and biking communities.

Many may elaborate on the “green” energy small footprint the use of trails provides, and others may speak about the intrinsic health benefits by staying active rather than taking a car for these same errands or outings. I’m lucky enough to spend time on the trail with my dog year round. We run into the usual suspects and cast of characters every day, and it is a blessing to engage in a community of people who genuinely appreciate seeing the lake and nature around it on a daily basis. The community developed on a trail is compounded, as I would never meet these same people if not for the trail available to us. This fabulous resource and the proximity to White Bear Lake can be enjoyed by all who want to use this trail.

Wait – there is more to consider? While the funding has been secured through bonding to pay for the different segments of the Lake Links Trail around the lake, each community will decide what they want their portion of the trail to reflect. The bigger value to consider once this can be completed is the SAFE traveling opportunities not only for those using it for recreation, but more importantly for those who cannot otherwise be mobile. The independence and ability for those who cannot drive is imperative.

There are currently sections of this trail that are dangerous. Trail improvements for safety are planned to utilize existing rights of way and other public property. Some generous landowners have designated a small portion of their property to help create a contiguous trail. The current progress along South Shore Boulevard, while temporarily disruptive to traffic patterns, is so exciting to see. That was one of the most dangerous segments, and now so many will enjoy safe usage to get to the White Bear Lake lakefront and shopping areas from the south end of the lake.

The value of this not only impacts us today through improved home values, community engagement, and independence for non-drivers, but it adds value to our families and friends for years to come. If you have questions or would like more information, the Lake Links Association is actively meeting and communicating with local officials to help coordinate the progress in each segment. You can contact us at

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