If there is a path called the Lighthouse Path (somewhere at the coast) or Mountain Path or Jones Path (named after somebody who identified it) and I want to hike it, is it correct to say "Hiking the Lighthouse/Mountain/Jones Path" ? Or should there be a preposition?

As far as I know, if it was a trail, I can say "Hiking the Lighthouse/Mountain/Jones trail". Is it correct?

Additional question: for the Jones case, is there 'the Jones path/trail' or just 'Jones path/trail' ?

  • The short answer is yes. And the the is typically necessary. But note that use of the can vary - witness the way southern Californians refer to highways: the 405 versus the way northern Californians refer to them: 405, Interstate 405, or highway 405. I'd say find out how the locals refer to Jones Path or whatever, and do likewise. – Drew Nov 24 '14 at 1:21

If you are completing the entire trail, no preposition is necessary for most verbs related to travel or transportation. The route or journey is used as an adverb, indicating the place where the travel is occurring. This is common with named routes—

— but you can also use it with arbitrarily defined trips—

  • I was biking the five miles from Westwood to Santa Monica every morning.
  • They drove the long way home, to take in the view.
  • He rode the seven stops from Hartsfield to Five Points without incident.

If you are not hiking the entire path, however, I would likely include a preposition such as on or along. If the path is more important than the mode of transport, you can use take or follow:

  • We drove on Autoroute 20 most of the way, but took the Pierre Laporte Bridge just to say we'd been on it.
  • The tour follows the Mormon Trail from Fort Bridger to Big Mountain.

As to whether the trail name takes the definite article, the short answer is "usually yes" when referring to a route but not when referring to a road— but as always with articles, the matter is complicated. I can't think of any U.S. hiking/equestrian/biking trail/path/track that is not referred to without the article off the top of my head, but there are always exceptions.

  • Very helpful. If there are several trails named after one person, is it ok to use an indefinite article, ie "Walking a Jones trail" ? – user155002 Nov 24 '14 at 12:54
  • @user155002 A Jones trail would normally be interpreted as referring to one of a type of or set of trails. To use it to indicate unrelated trails of the same name is to underscore a coincidence, or irony, or other unusual circumstance. I'm planning to trek the John Muir Trail this spring. It'll take about 5 months. / That's funny, I'm riding a John Muir Trail too, but I'll finish in one day. Granted, mine is a little flatter. – choster Nov 24 '14 at 15:03

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