The 25 Best Rail Trails in the U.S.

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Over the previous 60 years, rail trails have remodeled America’s out of doors areas. These once-abandoned corridors more and more welcome cyclists and runners, with practically 25,000 transformed miles nationwide. And the principle driver behind this push, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, is barely getting began. In 2019, the nonprofit introduced its boldest endeavor but: the Nice American Rail Path, a 12-state venture linking La Push, Washington to Washington, D.C. Sure, it’s a lofty aim, and, as of 2021, it’s solely 53 % completed. However t. are loads of different trails prepared now.

Listed here are 25 of one of the best U.S. rail trails that vary from 750 to 7 miles, and go by way of each area within the nation. Run or trip a bit—or the entire thing.

RELATED: 4 Causes You Ought to Run on America’s Rail-Trails

1. Empire State Path

750 miles: NYC to Buffalo and Rouses Level, New York

When New York’s spectacular Empire State Path formally opened in late 2020, it took the title of the longest multi-use path within the nation. A lot of this route follows repurposed railroad beds and crosses by way of scenic stretches of the Hudson River Valley and the Adirondacks area. The route is 75 % off-road, and 25 % on-road, with the previous sections largely made up of stone mud and asphalt.

2. Katy Path

(Photograph: marekuliasz/iStock/Getty)

240 miles: Machens to Clinton, Missouri

Surroundings and historical past abound alongside this path. Greater than half of the route follows Lewis and Clark’s path up the Missouri River, w. pastoral farmland, rolling rivers, and small-town Americana make for an excellent snapshot of Midwestern allure. This crushed-limestone path, one of many longest within the nation, hyperlinks 26 trailheads throughout the previous Missouri-Kansas-Texas railroad.

3. Higher Yellowstone Path

180 miles: Grand Teton to Yellowstone Nationwide Park, Wyoming

Roughly 70 % of the extremely anticipated 180-mile Higher Yellowstone Path is at the moment prepared. This venture, launched in 2015, will join two of the area’s most famed nationwide parks: Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The hall of paved and gravel terrain may even join with the Continental Divide Scenic Path, promising a slew of long-distance adventures alongside a single route.

4. Cowboy Path

203 miles: Valentine to Norfolk, Nebraska

The Cowboy Path consists of 189 crushed-gravel miles between Valentine and Norfolk, Nebraska, with an extra 14 miles between Gordon and Rushville. It follows an previous agricultural rail route often known as the Cowboy Line, which connects greater than 200 bridges, native prairies, and grassy dunes—all signature scenes of the Cornhusker State. Highlights embody a view of the Niobrara Nationwide Scenic River close to Valentine, plus Sandhills, the western hemisp.’s largest grass-covered dunes, positioned simply outdoors the city of Lengthy Pine.

5. Nice Allegheny Passage

150 miles: Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Following rolling peaks and pastoral landscapes, this route winds by way of the Cumberland Narrows gorge, throughout the historic Mason-Dixon line, and alongside the Laurel Highlands and Ohiopyle State Park, w. waterfalls and gorges abound. Path cities dot the crushed-limestone path roughly each 10 miles, guaranteeing that these going the space have loads of lodging and eating choices.

6. Paul Bunyan State Path

119 miles: Bemidji to Brainerd, Minnesota

Minnesota’s longest paved path reveals how the state earned its “land of 10,000 lakes” motto. The trail travels by greater than 20 lakes and 10 rivers and streams on its journey from Lake Bemidji State Park to Brainerd’s Crow Wing State Park, 130 miles north of Minneapolis. Greater than 15 path cities fall alongside the route, and a cover of aspens, maples, and oaks shade the best way.

7. Olympic Discovery Path

90 miles: Port Townsend to Sappho, Washington

This under-development route hyperlinks among the Pacific Northwest’s most jaw-dropping landscapes, from craggy coasts to mossy valleys and cerulean lakes, to not point out Washington’s crown jewel: Olympic Nationwide Park. The trail is at the moment round 90 miles lengthy, with a number of intermittent breaks within the path because it continues to be constructed. As soon as totally accomplished, it should join practically 140 miles from the Puget Sound to the Pacific.

8. George S. Mickelson Path

Bicyclists pass through a tunnel in a slate hill, along George S. Mickelson Trail
(Photograph: Scott Smith/Getty)

109 miles: Deadwood to Edgemont, South Dakota

Anticipate commanding Black Hills vistas alongside this rail path of crushed-stone. The route crosses virtually 100 transformed railroad bridges, and weaves by way of Black Hills Nationwide Forest. It additionally hits gold-rush and mining-town remnants and iconic landmarks, together with Wind Cave Nationwide Park and Mount Rushmore.

9. Little Miami Scenic Path

78 miles: Cincinnati to Springfield, Ohio

This scenic path proves Ohio’s greater than a flyover state. The paved multi-use path begins simply southeast of Cincinnati, and stretches north by way of a collection of inexperienced areas earlier than weaving by way of suburbs just like the native outdoor-adventure haven of Loveland. It additionally cuts by way of the two,800-acre Caesar Creek State Park and the hippie-hub Yellow Springs, w. the Yellow Springs Brewery abuts the trail.

10. Greenbrier River Path, West Virginia

77 miles: Cass to Caldwell, West Virginia

This route packs in one of the best of West Virginia, together with 35 bridges, a smattering of quaint small cities, and two tunnels. However these highlights are largely overshadowed by one of the crucial intriguing sections of any U.S. rail path: the Nationwide Radio Quiet Zone. On this 13,000-square-mile expanse within the jap nook of the state, cell alerts are restricted to guard the colossal Inexperienced Financial institution Telescope, which astronomers use to “eavesdrop” on area.

11. Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Path

View from PA to NJ over Delaware River, at sunset with cycling path
(Photograph: Leaping Rocks/Training Photos/Common Photos Group/Getty)

73 miles: Milford to New Brunswick, New Jersey

From historic landmarks to wildlife sightings, the highlights alongside this crushed-stone pathway showcase the Backyard State’s lesser-seen facet. Runners will go Nineteenth-century bridges and stone-arch culverts, in addition to the Delaware River and Carnegie Lake, and have the choice of trail-town pit stops all through. Don’t miss Rockingham State Historic Web site in Somerset County, house to one in all George Washington’s Revolutionary Warfare headquarters.

12. Northern Rail Path

58 miles: Lebanon to Boscawen, New Hampshire

Following the historic roots of America’s Northern Railroad, the largely crushed-stone route strikes alongside and above a number of waterways, together with 9 bridges crossing the Mascoma River inside the first 4 miles. Trailside sights embody the restored circa-1874 Andover’s Potter Place Railroad Station, the Keniston Coated Bridge, and 600-acre Webster Lake, a peaceable getaway within the coronary heart of New England.

13. Prairie Spirit Path

51 miles: Iola to Ottawa, Kansas

The Prairie Spirit Path blends a patchwork of Kansas’ magnificence: rolling pastures, ambling streams, and rustic farmland. Its finish level, the city of Ottawa, is simply 50 miles from Kansas Metropolis. Its most breathtaking attraction, by far, is the Nature Conservancy’s Anderson County Prairie Protect, a protected 1,450-acre slice of what was as soon as greater than 170 million acres of tallgrass prairies.

14. Withlacoochee State Path

46 miles: Citrus Springs to Trilby, Florida

Midway between Tampa and Orlando lies this lesser-known bike-and-hike path. On this flat, paved route, you’ll see herons fly overhead, turtles cross the pavement, and oftentimes, a gator alongside the trail. The Citrus Springs-to-Trilby hall winds alongside the Withlacoochee River, and crosses by way of the biodiverse 157,000-acre Withlacoochee State Forest, house to bald eagles and white-tailed deer.

15. Longleaf Hint

45 miles: Hattiesburg to Prentiss, Mississippi

Soak up southeast Mississippi’s Piney Woods on this route that travels throughout these longleaf pine forests. The paved path parallels the deserted Mississippi Central Railroad line and cuts by way of startling modifications of landscapes, from forests to farmland, and is shared by equestrian riders and pedestrians.

16. Virginia Creeper Nationwide Recreation Path

Virginia Creeper Trail,Hiker on bridge
(Photograph: David Underwood/Training Photos/Common Photos Group/Getty)

34 miles: Abingdon to Whitetop, Virginia

Crossing verdant forests and sprawling fields, this path weaves throughout two counties close to the Virginia and North Carolina border. If you wish to benefit from the thrills—with out the uphills—attempt Damascus Bike Leases’ shuttle service, which takes cyclists as much as the trail’s highest level, Whitetop, for a swift, principally downhill 34-mile trip again to the Abingdon begin.

17. Elroy-Sparta State Path

34 miles: Elroy to Sparta, Wisconsin

The nation’s first rail path can also be one in all its most spectacular. The crushed-limestone path runs by way of hand-dug practice tunnels, with the longest reaching as much as practically three-quarters of a mile; given the space, temperatures inside hover round 50 to 60 levels Fahrenheit, regardless of the skin climate. The route additionally has views of wetlands, prairies, and farmland.

18. Union Pacific Rail Path

28 miles: Park Metropolis to Echo Reservoir, Utah

Beginning at an elevation of 6,800 toes in Park Metropolis, this path is a real immersion into Utah’s wild and wondrous surroundings. It crosses slim volcanic canyons and luxurious wetlands, w. wildlife like fox, deer, and moose would possibly share the path. It consists of each paved and gravel terrain, and follows the route of an previous mining railroad that transported coal and silver ore within the late 1800s.

19. Bizz Johnson Nationwide Recreation Path

25 miles: Westwood to Susanville, California

This gravel route parallels the previous Fernley and Lassen Railroad line that runs by way of California’s Lassen County, with stretches that traverse Susan River Canyon and quite a few historic tunnels. Thick pine and fir forests shade a lot of this path from Westwood of Susanville, roughly 200 miles north of Sacramento.

20. Banks-Vernonia State Path

23 miles: Banks to Vernonia, Oregon

Oregon’s first rail-trail venture pairs practice historical past with mossy Pacific Northwest surroundings. The path crosses the willow-dotted foothills of the northwestern Coast Vary, beginning at Banks, a city 24 miles from Portland. Greater than 10 bridges, a sprinkling of classic railroad remnants, and the emerald landscapes of the 1,700-acre L.L. Stub Stewart Park are among the many journey’s highlights.

21. Santa Fe Rail Path

17 miles: Santa Fe to Lamy, New Mexico

Following the lively Santa Fe Railway line, this route departs from town’s Railyard District, house to a bustling farmers’ market and breweries. After 4 miles of paved city path that cuts by way of Santa Fe, the trail transitions to a juniper and yucca-fringed grime pathway for 13 miles. It ends with a fast mile-and-a-half offshoot path to a unusual century-old practice depot within the city of Lamy, w. the Authorized Tender Saloon and Eatery serves up New American dishes in an Outdated Western setting.

22. East Bay Bike Path

The seaside part of the East Bay Bike Path
(Photograph: EOkwara/iStock/Getty)

14 miles: Bristol to Windfall, Rhode Island

Showcasing the Ocean State’s deep nautical historical past, this route connects eight parks alongside a waterfront observe that follows an previous railbed used for the Windfall, Warren, and Bristol Railroad, as soon as very important to America’s shipbuilding and transoceanic commerce. It passes by way of birding-haven Squantum Woods Park, with Windfall’s skyline seen alongside a lot of the route.

23. Island Line Rail Path

13 miles: Burlington to South Hero, Vermont

See one of the best of Vermont—the Inexperienced Mountains, Lake Champlain, and the Colchester Causeway—by way of this widespread path, a mixture of pavement and crushed limestone. It begins on the waterfront by way of the Burlington Greenway earlier than heading north to the Colchester Causeway, a sliver of land throughout Lake Champlain that hyperlinks mainland Vermont with South Hero on the Grand Isle. Finishing this route requires taking the Island Line Bike Ferry to succeed in the Causeway’s northern finish.

24. Moab Canyon Pathway

13 miles: Moab to Arches Nationwide Park, Utah

What the Moab Canyon Pathway lacks in long-distance miles, it makes up for with surreal Utah surroundings. The asphalt route follows Outdated Freeway 191 from Moab alongside the southern border of Arches Nationwide Park, linking up with the Colorado Riverway Bridge alongside the best way. It then follows an lively railroad line to the route’s terminus close to the Gemini Bridges Trailhead, a 16-mile mountain biking and ATV route.

25. Keuka Lake Outlet Path

7 miles: Penn Yan to Dresden, New York

Whereas the Finger Lakes area is nice for road-tripping, this upstate New York escape is equally very best for runs—particularly on the Keuka Lake Outlet Path. The route guarantees critical views: anticipate forest-shaded waterfalls and gorges with historic mill websites and previous canal locks. The gravel path hyperlinks two of the seven Finger Lakes—Seneca and Keuka Lakes—together with 40-foot Seneca Mills Falls.

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