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Karl Wirsing
Communications Director
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Rail-to-Trails Conservancy Recommends Six Trails for Family Fun and Reflection

Rail-Trails for Memorial Day (PDF, 33.9K)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Memorial Day marks a weekend of parades and other ceremonies to honor those who have died serving our country. It also signals the unofficial start of the summer season, when swimming pools open, barbecues fire up in backyards across the country, and families head off for weekend excursions.

This year, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) has created a list of six rail-trails that offer the perfect way to get you and your family outdoors and active while exploring some of America's memorable historical sites and battlegrounds.

From the Capital Crescent Trail in the nation's capital to the Minuteman Bikeway in Boston, you can experience key moments in our country's history. These former railroad corridors are deeply rooted in American tradition, trials and triumphs, and they provide easily accessible—and inexpensive—getaways.

For interactive maps, directions, photos and reviews of each of the trails on our list, as well as hundreds of other rail-trails across America, visit, RTC's free, one-stop trail-finder website. With more than 19,000 miles of rail-trail throughout the country, families everywhere can enjoy a recreational Memorial Day weekend and explore historical sites along former rail lines that helped shape our country.

1.Western Maryland Rail-Trail - Maryland
This 22-mile rail-trail guides you through several eras of American history. The eastern trailhead is located a half-mile from Fort Frederick State Park, which features the stone fort used as frontier defense for the colony of Maryland during the French and Indian War, and later in the Revolutionary War.
Location: Washington County
Length: 22 miles
Surface: Asphalt

2. Richard Martin Trail (Limestone Rail-Trail) - Alabama
This 10-mile rail-trail passes through Sulphur Creek, the site of Alabama's bloodiest Civil War conflict. During the 1864 Battle of Sulphur Creek Trestle, a Tennessee & Alabama Central Railroad supply train moving Union Army troops and goods from Nashville to Atlanta came under attack; more than 200 soldiers were killed. The trail is named for local trail advocate Richard Martin, who continues to push for the improvement and extension of this popular corridor.
Location: Limestone County
Length: 10.2 miles
Surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel

3. Palmetto Trail/Swamp Fox Passage – South Carolina
Famous for his guerilla tactics during the Revolutionary War, General Francis Marion earned the nickname "Swamp Fox" by confounding British troops in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. If you're retracing his steps, be wary of recent rainfall. The notoriously swampy conditions from Marion's heyday occasionally overtake parts of the trail as you head through coastal pine forests and wetlands.
Location: Berkeley and Charleston Counties
Length: 42 miles
Surfaces: Grass, Dirt

4. Capital Crescent Trail - Washington, D.C.
This 11-mile rail-trail takes you from the peaceful woods of Silver Spring, Md., to the historical waterfront of Georgetown in Washington, D.C.—and only a short bridge ride over the Potomac River to Arlington National Cemetery, where you can take part in Memorial Day activities. It's a great route to reach the fireworks show in the nation's capital without the hassle of crowds or parking.
Location: Silver Spring, Md., to Washington, D.C.
Length: 11 miles
Surface: Asphalt, Gravel, Crushed Stone

5. Minuteman Bikeway - Boston
This 11-mile rail-trail offers a rolling history lesson. The corridor carries visitors through Lexington and near the Lexington Battle Green, where colonial militia—the minutemen—fired some of the first shots, and suffered some of the first casualties, of the American Revolution in 1775. The pathway begins just west of Boston near the Alewife metro station.
Location: Boston, Mass.
Length: 11 miles
Surface: Asphalt

6. Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail-Trail - Florida
Running just outside of bustling downtown Jacksonville, this rail-trail crosses McGirts Creek near Camp Milton, a site steeped in Civil War history. Halfway along the trail's route is the Camp Milton Historic Preserve rest area, once home to the largest encampment of Confederate troops during the Civil War. Today, you may hear naval aircraft on training runs at nearby Whitehouse Field.
Location: Duval County
Length: 14.5 miles
Surface: Asphalt

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 150,000 members and supporters, is the nation's largest trails organization dedicated to connecting people and communities by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's national office is located in Washington, D.C., with regional offices in California, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania. For more information visit

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
The Duke Ellington Building
2121 Ward Ct., NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20037