A new kind of green: Developers trade golf courses for hiking trails, gardens to draw buyers

A few decades ago, the go-to centerpiece for many master-planned communities was a golf course, with buyers clamoring for homes that backed up to the green whether they were avid players or not.

Today, golf courses have faded from favor in new communities, giving way to more inclusive amenities, such as extensive trail networks, education centers and shared gardens that all give residents a connection to the outdoors as well as to their neighbors.

Today, built amenities like pools, clubhouses and fitness centers remain popular. However, the growing use of technology among residents for everyday interactions has them even more eager to shed their phone or laptop and get outdoors. “There is a real desire to be outside, to have their space and to get their breath of fresh air.”

Walking paths in communities are nothing new, but today’s trails are no longer straight — or end at the town center. “When you talk about trails, they should be meandering. No one wants to be on a linear trail where they can see what’s coming. We want curvilinear where the landscape changes. We like to create monuments along the way, respites to work out on or take a rest or enjoy art.”

Rather than cutting down every tree and flattening every ridge, some developers are working with the land as they incorporate green space, parks and trails. For example, a community in Folsom, CA, is rugged and hilly, so the developer is incorporating mountain biking and hiking trails that rise and fall with the topography.

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