A desire path is a path created as a consequence of erosion caused by human or animal foot-fall. Desire paths emerge as routes where existing ways take a circuitous route, have gaps, or are non-existent.
The image of a user-created path, in seeming defiance of authority, across the earth between the concrete, has captured the imagination of many as a metaphor.
Desire paths sometimes cut through sensitive habitats and off-limit areas. They provide an indicator to park management of activity concentration, although they are taken for a multitude of reasons by path-goers at different times. Techniques to block the creation of desire paths including fences, dense vegetation, or signage; however, hikers still penetrate these barriers.
In Finland, planners are known to visit their parks immediately after the first snowfall, when the existing paths are not visible. People naturally choose desire paths, clearly marked by their footprints, which can be then used to guide the formation of new paths.