It Takes 11 Passes to Make a Path
...or a number close to eleven
It's why golf courses don't want you driving a cart near a tee or green or where you decide to build a foot bridge over a river or creek. It's something we just seem to do as human beings. We tend to go where someone else has trodden before unless it is in snow or sand. In that case nature seems to heal itself pretty well. You don't see paths in a desert or along a beachfront property.
So you might understand better now why a golf course marshall asks you to stay on the cart path near a green with your power cart. Imagine what would happen if everyone just drove right up close to the green. Most everyone would end up taking the straightest route from the cart path to the green and another path would develop just like in the picture shown here. Imagine the bad lies you would get for your next golf shot if it didn't land on the green. So the marshall isn't just trying to act like the "golf course police". Instead that person is trying to protect the integrity of the golf course and make it the same for all players.
And a smart engineer doesn't build a bridge just anywhere across a river or creek. Where people, vehicles or animals have passed before gives one a pretty good indication of a good place to build that bridge. Chances are the ground underneath will be fairly stable and make a good foundation for that bridge.
So if you want to make sure that an area in your neighborhood stays quite natural, then don't be taking that short cut through the corner lot unless the municipality is going to turn it into a park. Sure enough a path will appear very quickly as everyone cuts the corner in pretty much the same place and before you know it someone will put up a sign that says "Keep off the grass" which everyone will just ignore. And lo and behold, a path gets started. After 11 or so times, it is a path that will be very easy to follow.