Trinity Trails Wayfinding System: Fort Worth, Texas

City Parks Forum Case Study


Seeing a herd of longhorn cattle being driven along a river is not an image common to most urban waterfronts. If you find yourself in Fort Worth, however, you might be fortunate enough to see this when the Fort Worth Herd take their daily drive down Exchange Avenue to and from the historic Stockyards. The cattle often take a pit stop along the Trinity River, giving the visitor — and resident — a glimpse of what might have been in the past a common image in the city dubbed "Where the West Begins."

The Trinity River, which travels through the heart of Fort Worth, is a major natural asset to the city, with significant parkland acreage along either side. Adjacent to the central business district is the confluence of two forks of the river, North Fork and Clearfork; just below the confluence is the Paddock Viaduct, built in 1914 as the nation=s first concrete arch bridge to use reinforcing steel. The wooded bluff overlooking this confluence was the location of the original Fort Worth, and today is the site of Heritage Park, developed between 1972 and 1976 as a U.S. Bicentennial Project. The park consists of an overlook system and various water features.

This hub of river, history, and structure is an amazing and incredible venue; unfortunately, the bluff topography that creates the dramatic setting also makes it nearly invisible to pedestrians above. In fact, many people pass the vicinity unaware of Heritage Park's existence. There was a desire from Mayor Kenneth Barr to make a stronger connection between the downtown and the riverfront, to capture its natural beauty and economic development potential.

To assist in this process, the City Parks Forum gave a grant to Streams and Valleys, Inc., the nonprofit parks organization working to develop an overall master plan for the Trinity River, to create a "wayfinding" and signage system to link downtown and outlying neighborhoods to the river's greenbelt and existing system of parks and trails. Streams and Valleys retained a local planning and design firm to develop the system, which focuses on a connection through Heritage Park, encouraging trail users to enter Heritage Park and enjoy its various amenities. The map developed by the firm details recommended routes from hotels and major retail/tourist attractions to the river, and includes the basic amenities of the entire trail system. In order to promote the new system, Streams and Valleys held a number of fun public events at the riverfront.

In addition to the maps, 10,000 of which were printed and supplied throughout the city, the firm developed a signage system to provide directional guidance to the river for pedestrians and motor vehicles. Approximately 25 signs have been installed throughout the downtown, southwest, and west sides of town, and additional signs will be erected at major intersections and crossroads as additional miles of the trail are completed in the east and southeast neighborhoods. As stated in Streams and Valleys' final grant report, the grant "has served as significant seed money to implement a long term wayfinding and signage system for the entire Trinity River Corridor."


Adelaide Leavens
Streams and Valleys, Inc.
P.O. Box 101373
Fort Worth, TX 76185
(P) 817-926-0006