CMAP coordinates inter-jurisdictional planning for trails and greenways in the region. The Northeastern Illinois Greenways and Trails Plan, adopted as part of ON TO 2050, is a long-range plan which envisions a network of continuous greenway and trail corridors, linked across jurisdictions, providing scenic beauty, natural habitat, and recreational and transportation opportunities. The plan includes conceptual alignments for the planned trail network. The regional trails plan assists implementers and funding agencies in advancing their projects, as proposals that relate to the plan can be more attractive to funding agencies. Since 2013, CMAP has been using the plan to guide funding decisions for the Transportation Alternatives Program.
The regional trail network is an organizing system around which regional greenways may be developed. Such greenways may be composed of forest preserves, recreational facilities, and natural areas, including those along the region's rivers and streams. Greenways may also include urban and suburban parkways and boulevards.
CMAP periodically updates the conceptual alignments of the regional trails network. Recent updates took place in 2009 and 2016. These updates revisited previously proposed trails to ensure they are still valid recommendations, and made technical corrections. Such corrections included altered alignments and new multi-use trail linkages where appropriate. To accomplish these updates, CMAP staff met with personnel from all of the counties, forest preserve districts, Councils of Mayors, and the City of Chicago to review potential changes to the plan.