Miles: Burlington To South Hero Vermont
See the best of Vermontthe Green Mountains, Lake Champlain, and the Colchester Causewayvia this popular trail, a mix of pavement and crushed limestone. It starts on the waterfront via the Burlington Greenway before heading north to the Colchester Causeway, a sliver of land across Lake Champlain that links mainland Vermont with South Hero on the Grand Isle. Completing this route requires taking the Island Line Bike Ferry to reach the Causeways northern end.
Miles: Lebanon To Boscawen New Hampshire
Following the historic roots of Americas Northern Railroad, the largely crushed-stone route moves along and above multiple waterways, including nine bridges crossing the Mascoma River within the first four miles. Trailside attractions include the restored circa-1874 Andovers Potter Place Railroad Station, the Keniston Covered Bridge, and 600-acre Webster Lake, a peaceful getaway in the heart of New England.
The Great Allegheny Passage
For an approachable, multiday ride through Northeast mountains
The Great Allegheny Passage connects Cumberland, Md., to Pittsburgh, passing around and through the Allegheny Mountains, the Laurel Highlands and 10 towns in Pennsylvania and Maryland. While its 150-mile span may sound daunting, the full through-ride offers ample opportunities to rest, eat, swim and sleep: There are bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants and ice cream shops in towns like Frostburg, Md., and Confluence, Pa. campsites and shady spots in the mature forests of Ohiopyle State Park and the Casselman, Youghiogheny and Monongahela rivers offer dips for tired toes and opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, rafting and fly fishing. Plan on spending three days and two nights on the full ride, or opt for a shorter journey. One one-day trip between Meyersdale and Rockwood, Pa., allows bikers to explore old railroad structures or try an overnight ride from one trail town to another with an available shuttle service. The trail is a stellar example of how prioritizing cycling infrastructure can be a boon to local communities according to Bryan Perry, the executive director of the Great Allegheny Passage Conservancy, the trail created approximately $121 million in economic impact for the region in 2019 alone.
Number of miles: 150
Difficulty: Moderate youll gain up to 1,700 feet in elevation, but the climb is gradual and smooth
Good for children: Yes, both the whole trail or shorter day trips and overnights
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Latest Issue Of Rails To Trails Magazine
Reflection and renewalthese are the overriding themes of our Fall 2022 issue of Rails to Trails, which explores how trails heal, revitalize, and bring about growth and transformation in our lives and in our communities.
In this issue, we:
- Learn how the developing 600-mile River Ring is redefining connectivity, outdoor life and commerce in St. Louis, while reviving the areas forgotten, but powerful, past.
- Take a closer look at the 46-mile Razorback Regional Greenway, which is creating meaningful links between the regions hubs, suburban communities, greenspace and outdoor amenities.
- Get to know this years esteemed Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion, Indiana State Rep. Carey Hamilton.
- Find out just some of the ways that the Eastern Trail, the 2022 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee, has impacted Maine communities.
- Explorevia our latest Great American Rail-Trail® history featurethe life of Sator Sanchez, a World War II serviceman whose heroism is honored by the Mexican-American community of Joliet, Illinois.
- Get acquainted with Montanas Gateway to Glacier Trailwhich leads to the stunning Glacier National Park and its bucket-list Going-to-the-Sun Road.
- Find out what made Shevonne and Pat Travers recent cross-country ride on the Great American Rail-Trail an incredible adventure.
Urban Rail Trail Parks
In a number of cities disused rail tracks have been converted into linear parks. One example is the High Line , a 1.45-mile-long elevatedlinear park created on an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad. Inspired by the 3-mile-long Promenade plantée , a similar project in Paris completed in 1993, the High Line has been redesigned and planted as an aerial greenway and rails-to-trails park.
Rail trail conversions can be complex for legal, social, and economic reasons. Railroads in North America were often built with a mix of purchased land, government land grants, and easements. The land deeds can be over a hundred years old, land grants might be conditional upon continuous operation of the line, and easements may have expired, all expensive and difficult issues to determine at law.
While many rail trails have been built, other proposals have been cancelled by community opposition. The stature of the conversion organization, community involvement, and government willingness are key factors.
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American Tobacco Trail North Carolina
The 22.2-mile paved and stone dust American Tobacco Trail used to be the Norfolk Southern Railway supply line for Durhams tobacco plants. Start at the Durham Bulls Stadium in downtown to ride all the way to Cary, Apex, or Morrisville on connecting spur trails. Highlights are a 270-foot steel pedestrian bridge over I-40 and a stop at Cloer Family Vineyards in Wake County.
Miles: Iola To Ottawa Kansas
The Prairie Spirit Trail blends a patchwork of Kansas beauty: rolling pastures, ambling streams, and rustic farmland. Its end point, the town of Ottawa, is just 50 miles from Kansas City. Its most breathtaking attraction, by far, is the Nature Conservancys Anderson County Prairie Preserve, a protected 1,450-acre slice of what was once more than 170 million acres of tallgrass prairies.
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Just Grab Your Helmet And Go
Sometimes, cycling can be enchanting. Pedaling on a car-free path beside a lily pad-coated pond where blue herons hunt for fish, cruising along a sun-drenched expanse that suddenly plunges into near darkness under a thick tree canopy, or navigating to a small town offering scrumptious baked goods. But no matter what path you choose, the curious truth is that these and other magical cycling experiences are fundamentally interwoven with the rise and fall of the railroad industry in the US.
A vast network of active rails criss-crossed this country in the late 1800s, when train travel was at its zenith. But as cars and planes emerged as transportation kings, thousands of miles of tracks were abandoned, ultimately strewn with garbage and choked with weeds. Thanks to the efforts of the nonprofit Rails-to-Trails Conservancy alongside numerous trail advocates, more than 25,000 miles of formerly derelict tracks have now been resurrected as multi-use trailsAKA rail-trailsthat have revitalized communities, reinvigorated small businesses, and become a cyclists paradise, while another 9,000-plus miles remain in development. Most of these routes have a gentle grade, and many offer insights into the culture and history of the region as well as opportunities for the whole family to commune with nature, whether its via bird watching, fishing, or leaf peeping.
Great Allegheny Passage C& o Canal Towpath Missouris Katy Trail
These are a few of the amazing, car-free rail-trails that guests enjoy on 3, 4, and 6 day fully-supported inn-to-inn rail trail tours. Since 1986, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been connecting communities via a network of trails created from former railroad corridors. This coast-to-coast initiative provides a car-free way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of our country. The trails have considerably gentle grades, and our trips include overnight stays in the charming inns and B& Bs along the route.
All tours are fully supported with SAG wagons and experienced guides. Bring your own bike or rent one from Wilderness Voyageurs. These trips are laid-back, feature lots of scenic eye candy and the chance to explore your world. Plan your trip with our easy online booking option, or give us a call to make reservations. Were looking forward to seeing you on the trails!
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Redbank Valley Rail Trail
Armstrong, Clarion, and Jefferson counties
Length: 51 miles
Activity Types: mountain biking, walking, and cross-country skiing
Surface: ballast and crushed stone
The Redbank Valley Rail Trail beckons the more fearless Happy Travelers among us, with some sections best suited for mountain bikers due to rough terrain, while others are perfect for more casual recreational riders. And what a trail! Its more than 57 miles long and traverses three counties through some of the most spectacular scenery in western PA. With 27 bridges, numerous stone arches, three former railroad tunnels , and 41 miles of the trail winding along Redbank Creek, its easy to see why it was the first trail ever designated the states Trail of the Year in 2020.
Stony Valley Railroad Grade Trail
Dauphin, Lebanon and Schuylkill counties
Length: 22 miles
Activity Types: biking, horseback riding, walking, hiking, and cross-country skiing
Surface: dirt and gravel
Located just outside Pennsylvanias state capital of Harrisburg, the Stony Valley Railroad Grade Trail is a 22-mile, nature lovers paradise. Creating the perfect, serene setting to escape the hustle of the city, this trail is open year-round to bikers, hikers, and horseback riders, as well as cross-country skiers and snowmobilers in the winter. The trail, located on 44,000 acres of beautiful state game land, is also a very popular spot for hunters.
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Miles: Grand Teton To Yellowstone National Park Wyoming
Roughly 70 percent of the highly anticipated 180-mile Greater Yellowstone Trail is currently ready for riders. This project, launched in 2015, will connect two of the regions most famed national parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The corridor of paved and gravel terrain will also connect with the Continental Divide Scenic Trail, promising a slew of long-distance adventures along a single route.
George S Mickelson Trail
Location: Deadwood to Edgemont, South DakotaLength: 114 miles
Why its great: Named for its most ardent advocate, a former South Dakota governor, the George S. Mickelson trail passes through national forest for nearly its entire run. With views of the best of the Black Hills, this extensive crushed stone and dirt path crosses nearly 100 converted railroad bridges and four tunnels.
More Ways to Ride Long
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Wabash Trace Nature Trail
Location: Council Bluffs to Blanchard, IowaLength: 63 miles
Why its great: This crushed limestone trail through the scenic Loess hills of western Iowa hosts a number of bike events, like the Taco Ride and regular MTB and road rides. There are a few parks along the route that offer free camping for bike tourists, but there is a minimal fee to ride the trail, which helps offset maintenance.
Erie Canalway Trail New York
Length: 360 miles
The historic Erie Canal Trail runs from Buffalo to Albany primarily on old railway and canalway beds, with a few short connecting sections on roads .
At 360 miles with options for extensions and alternates, the Erie Canalway is one of the longest rail trails in the US. It has a well-developed bike touring culture and offers plentiful camping, restaurants, towns, and sights along the way.
The Erie Canal, completed in 1825, rises 500 feet over its course via a series of locks and was an impressive work of engineering in its day. The transport of people, goods, and ideas that it enabled played a pivotal role in New Yorks economic and cultural development. Theres no better way to appreciate this history than to pedal your wheels along its length.
This is the only trail listed that I havent personally set wheels on, but it comes highly recommended from a reader who was excited to spread the word. Its most definitely on my wishlist now!
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The Great Shamokin Path
Activity Types: hiking, biking, horseback riding, walking, and cross-country skiing
Surface: dirt, grass, and gravel
Built along the Rural Valley Railroad, the Great Shamokin Path is named after the route that once linked the Allegheny and Susquehanna rivers and ran from Kittanning to Sunbury during Native American times. This mostly grass-covered trail climbs steadily through the Cowanshannock Creek Valley and provides four miles of hiking and biking trails between NuMine and Rose Valley.
Explore Idaho’s Rails To Trails Bike Paths With Us
As modes of transportation have evolved and railroads in certain parts of the United States have been abandoned, a new use for these old railroad right-of-way has been born. The conversion of former railroad routes to new trails is known as a rails-to-trails conversion and today the U.S. boasts an extensive system of these trails around the country. Railroad beds are ideal for cycling tours as they have minimal elevation gain or loss. In addition, they often follow rivers, lakeshores and pass through some of the worlds most dramatic scenery.
Near our headquarters in Coeur dAlene, we are lucky to have some of the best in the nation including two that are in the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame! These are the Trail of the Coeur dAlenes and the legendary Route of the Hiawatha. Our Idaho cycle tours take place on these two trails as well as the Washington/Idaho Centennial Trail and the Route of the Olympian. We have bases in both Spokane and Coeur dAlene and as a local company you benefit from both our extensive knowledge of the area, as well as our local guides. We are proud of our professional, enthusiastic guides, who bring current and historical perspectives to share with you, enriching your tour with stories that only a local would know.
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Richmond & Danville Rail Trail Virginia
The Richmond-Danville Railroad in Virginia was a major Confederate supply line during the Civil War. Now, the Richmond & Danville Rail Trail allows hikers, equestrians, mountain bikers, and cross-country skiers to explore the farming communities and wetlands between Ringgold and Sutherlin. Plaques along the route describe key Civil War events, and a red caboose at the Sutherlin trailhead marks the site of a restored railroad depot.
Catskill Scenic Trail New York
Photo: Catskill Scenic Trail
Upstate New York is home to nearly two dozen rail trails. None encapsulates the regions natural beauty and abundant flora and fauna like the Catskill Scenic Trail. Here you can ride on bike or horseback, or hike your way through the rolling green Catskills, experiencing the route that the Ulster & Delaware Railroad used to run vital goods and supplies across New York from 1875 until 1932. In the winter, this trail is perfect for cross-country skiing, with long flat stretches punctuated by slight inclines that get the heart pumping.
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Miles: Elroy To Sparta Wisconsin
The nations first rail trail is also one of its most impressive. The crushed-limestone path runs through hand-dug train tunnels, with the longest reaching up to nearly three-quarters of a mile given the distance, temperatures inside hover around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter the outside weather. The route also has views of wetlands, prairies, and farmland.
White River State Trail Wisconsin
Photo: White River Trail
Wide-open country views and charming towns make the White River State Trail among the most popular of rail trails in the US. The trail runs 19 miles and passes through Elkhorn, Springfield, Lyons, Burlington, and Kansasville. Turn it into a full day or more by staying overnight in one of the towns. We recommend turning your ride into a cheese curd tour, stopping at two or more of the following: 1175 in Kansasville, Freds Parkview in Burlington, Flat Iron Tap in Lyons, Craftsman Table and Tap, and Culvers in Elkhorn. In Springfield, If you wish to pedal further, the White River State Trail is part of the larger Route of the Badger, which offers more than 300 miles of connected trail across Wisconsin.
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Neuse River Trail North Carolina
Follow North Carolinas Neuse River Trail for 30 miles from the Falls Lake Dam to Clayton on a path thats partly paved and partly boardwalk. Two suspension bridges take you across the river and through wetlands on your way to four additional miles on the Clayton Riverwalk. The southern terminus also connects to the Walnut Creek Trail.
History Of The Lvrt Rail Corridor
The Lamoille Valley Rail Trail occupies the former railroad corridor from St. Johnsbury to Swanton, which was constructed between 1869 and 1877 as a segment of the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad Vermont Division. The railroad operated under various management and similar names throughout its lifetime. In 1880 the line was renamed the St. Johnsbury and Lake Champlain Railroad . The line was known as The Bridge Road, named for the six covered railroad bridges on its scenic route traversing small towns, forest, farmland, and picturesque train stations. The St. J & L.C. provided a connection between Portland, Maine and Ogdensburg, NY. Additionally, there was a connection to Burlington along the Burlington and Lamoille Railroad. at Cambridge Junction. In 1892, a spur line called the Granite Branch was extended from Hardwick to Woodbury to serve the granite industry in that town.
The St. J & L.C. provided a connection between Portland, Maine and Ogdensburg, NY. Additionally, there was a connection to Burlington along the Burlington and Lamoille Railroad. at Cambridge Junction. In 1892, a spur line called the Granite Branch was extended from Hardwick to Woodbury to serve the granite industry in that town.
In its early decades of operation, the St. J & L.C. served the summer tourism industry. Some passengers traveled to their summer camps such as those on Caspian Lake in Greensboro. Others traveled and stayed in the railroad hotels located along the route.
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