Imagine a network of scenic paths running from one end of the country to the other. Imagine traveling across America by foot or bicycle without ever encountering cars or highways. That’s the goal of the Great American Rail-Trail, which will cover 3700 miles and cross 12 states and the District of Columbia.
Hiking the Train Trails
The organization Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is the guiding spirit behind this plan. The conservancy wants to make it possible to walk or bike across the country by traveling on unused rail lines that have been converted to walkable paths.
As the conservancy’s president says, “Imagine the incomparable experience of exploring America’s heritage by trail, its potential, its beauty and bounty, its people and places.”
Organizers point out that 50 million people live within 50 miles of the proposed trails. That’s a lot of people who might be inspired to put on their hiking shoes or pump their bicycles.
The rail-trail creates travel-related business opportunities for towns and communities along the trails. Outfitters like REI are already getting their customers ready to hit the trails.
The conservancy notes that the project could take more than 10 years to complete. Some states are ready to go with fully linked paths, but others need to add or upgrade existing trails.
Ready to Ride?
Are you ready to ride across the country? Maybe you just want to know about your local area’s most scenic trails. You can get all this information at the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy website.
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