The bottom of a trail sneaker is much different than the bottom of a road sneaker. A road sneaker’s bottom is flatter and the rubber is more bendable. A trail shoe’s sole is made of stronger rubber and has lugs that offer traction and stability on uneven surfaces. Imagine running on the beach or a wet rocky trail without any grip between you and the ground— there is lots of slipping and sliding!
The upper part of a trail and road sneaker are also different. Road shoes offer a breathable mesh upper body and are flexible while the top of a trail sneaker is durably made to keep out debris and to provide more support. Furthermore, most trail shoes have a rock plate in the middle of the sneaker to prevent rocks and sharp objects from protruding through the bottom making trail sneakers a bit stiff.
Can trail shoes be worn on the road? Yes, trail shoes can be worn on the road, but they will quickly wear down the lugs on the bottom of the sneaker. It’s best to keep those trail shoes on the trail to increase the longevity of the sneaker. Can road shoes be worn on the trail? Yes, but they will similarly wear quicker on the rough terrain and will provide less support.