Sarah Major on the Katy Trail State
Park in Missouri.
Russell Anderson joins a Puget Sound Mini TOT (Trikes Optional Tour) on the Centennial
Trail in Washington.
Some Trails Never Get Old
In June, we asked you to tell us about rail-trails you never get tired of visiting. Some folks use a neighborhood pathway to commute to work every day or as a quiet escape, and it never disappoints. Others have made several long-distance trips to a particular trail, and it keeps calling them back. In each case, whether for convenience or the views along the route, these readers have found ample reasons to visit their favorite rail-trails again and again.
Sarah Major — Kansas City, Mo.
I recently received your eNews and decided to write you about a trail I can't stop riding. I'm a huge fan of the Katy Trail State Park, which runs 225 miles from St. Charles to Clinton in Missouri. Being a native Missourian, I'm very proud of the fact that my state is the home of the longest rail-trail in the country. I tell all my cycling friends they need to at least ride a portion of the trail at some point in their lives.
The stretch by Rocheport, Mo., is my personal favorite. This stretch runs adjacent to the Missouri River with bluffs on one side and the raging Missouri River on the other. If you close your eyes, you can almost sense Lewis and Clark's presence. Their expedition followed the Missouri River and started in St. Charles. There are many markers along the trail indicating significant points. Lewis and Clark even camped at a location along the trail in June 1804.
I participate in an annual organized bike ride sponsored by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and I've ridden the entire Katy Trail seven times now. This year would have been my eighth ride. However, I recently fractured my elbow in a bike accident and had to cancel my registration. It happened while I was on the Katy Trail in Boonville. How's that for irony?
My boyfriend recently purchased a hybrid this past spring and I've made a Katy Trail fan out of him, too. He has found a new appreciation for nature and cycling. That's what the Katy Trail does for me. It has given me a different appreciation for the world around me while I'm on my bike.
Russell Anderson — Everett, Wash.
I rode the Centennial Trail a few times when it was only seven miles long; it just seemed too short to be worthy of the drive over from nearby Everett, Wash. Then about three years ago, it was lengthened to 17.5 miles. I started riding my hybrid and then a Rans Crank Forward-style two-wheeler on the trail once or twice a week, year-round.
As I got better at the 35-mile roundtrip, the scenery also "got better." Maybe it was the more upright riding position of the Crank Forward that allowed me to see more. Then again, maybe it was the familiar faces of walkers, joggers, horseback riders, etc. Now I have added a three-wheel recumbent to the mix. Boy, oh, boy, but the trail experience is entirely new again. Riding three wheels just inches off the ground gives a totally new perspective. Now I look dogs and children on bikes eye-to-eye! Have you ever pulled alongside a child out for his or her first big ride in public when you are at their eye level? You have just become one of them in their eyes, someone they can relate to! Quite the experience. Then there are the people you've seen for years but never spoken to. All of a sudden they are talking to you and recognize that you have a new ride. I never would have thought they would have noticed that.
Chris Burke — Seattle, Wash.
I live in northern Seattle, about a quarter-mile from one of the oldest rail-trails, the Burke-Gilman Trail. I use it every day to get to work on my bike, as my workplace is also next to the trail. Sometimes I walk rather than ride; it's about a four-mile trip.
It is on my days off that I really use this trail. The Seattle area is blessed with a whole network of rail-trails, including the Centennial Trail, the Cedar River Trail, the Sammamish River Trail, the East Lake Sammamish Trail, the Snoqualmie Valley Trail, the Interurban Trail, the Iron Horse State Park trail, and the Preston-Snoqualmie Trail. These trails add up to hundreds of miles.
From my house I can ride the Burke-Gilman and connect with any of these other trails. They wander through a host of scenic environments, from urban parks to suburban lakeshores to rural fields to wilderness forests. I ride to see things, to visit people, to eat at new restaurants, and sometimes for no reason other than to get outside.
A typical ride for me would be along the Burke-Gilman, Sammamish River and East Lake Sammamish trails, from Seattle through Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville, Redmond, Sammamish and Issaquah—where I often take the bus home using our bus system's bike-on-bus feature. Along this route there are two big lakes, a river, a university, a brewery, a winery, dozens of restaurants, a few libraries, several large parks, a couple of wetlands, public and private art, numerous business districts, an REI and four shopping centers. Just in case, there are at least three bike shops. I can find almost everything I ever need along this bike route, which like all rail-trails is nearly flat with no sharp curves.
Anna McManus — Council Bluffs, Iowa
After living nearly 15 years in western Iowa, I still can't get enough of the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. I cycled it for several years and will do so again, but I have recently begun using the Trace to walk a new rescued dog, which I acquired earlier this month. The trail provides plenty of entertainment for both of us. We either access the trail via the crossing of the street on which I live, or I drive to other locations. The panoramas between trees, the quiet backyards and numerous bridges make this a trail we will enjoy visiting for years to come.
Estelle Needleman — Mahwah, N.J.
Two trails I don't tire of are the East Bay Bicycle Path in Rhode Island and the North County Trailway in New York. The East Bay follows Narragansett Bay from Providence to Bristol, with lovely views of the bay and quiet suburban towns. It's always a joy, especially when I catch the oldest running Fourth of July parade in Bristol—real Americana!
The North County Trailway affords a nice long ride—50 miles or more—through lovely country (and some highway). Gentle hills and leafy woods make for a wonderful summer ride.
Harry Leahy — Dayton, Ohio
My favorite area is a section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail between Spring Valley and where Caesar's Creek crosses under the path. The roundtrip is about 20 miles, and for an 80-year-old character, that makes for a decent and interesting afternoon or evening to watch nature from early spring to late fall. Besides that, there is an ice cream store along the way.
Since the mid 1980s, I've been interested in the trails in the Dayton and Xenia area in Ohio. At that time, my daughter spent more on her bike, $400, than I did on my first car, $250. I rode with her on the Great Miami River Recreation Trail from our home in East Dayton to Miamisburg and back. The longest ride I ever did, and on my old Shwinn three-speed. Riding in stiff jeans that day, I sadly and embarrassingly learned the reason for bike pants!
Max Sauer — Rochester, N.Y.
The Auburn Trail from Pittsford to Farmington in New York is my favorite trail. I commute from Rochester to Victor, N.Y., every day; it's about a 30-mile drive. In good weather, I like to bike the last six miles from Powder Mills Park to my office in Victor. The reasons I like it:
1) It's right on the way, so no lost mileage;
2) The trail goes right up to the back of the parking lot of the office;
3) It's a straight line, like a super-highway for bicycles;
4) Keeps me in shape; and
5) It's through the woods and countryside, so very pretty.
Ken Holt — Longwood, Fla.
I inline skate and sometimes bike the Seminole Wekiva Trail near my home in Longwood three to five times a week. It is 14 miles from tip to tip and has more grade changes than most of our area trails. It has a wonderful tree canopy over most of its length and is great even during our hot summer days. It features a trail tunnel under busy State Route 434 near Interstate 4, and the pathway has adequate watering stops and lots of benches for breathers.
I use the Wekiva Trail for personal fitness, but I also enjoy its scenic beauty, wildlife and friendly regular trail users. I especially enjoy seeing three generations of family members doing their own thing together on our suburban playground.