The Kapa'a Bike Path on the Hawaiian
island of Kauai.
The Kapa'a Bike Path traces the Kauai shoreline along the Pacific Ocean.
Tell Us ...
In May, we asked you to tell us which rail-trail offers the best coastal experience?
Constance B. McCabe — Lake Forest, Ill.
It may be short at 4.5 miles, but the Kapa'a Bike Path on the island of Kauai can't be beat for cliff views, sandy swimming beaches, fabulous food, convenient bike rentals and wildlife viewing. When we were there in March, a couple spotted a newly born monk seal at the end of the trail, and whale spouts were visible off-shore. Accommodations are available trailside, as is a public outdoor pool. This trail really has it all, and it has plans to expand!
David Snyder — Milwaukee, Wis.
Not all coasts are on oceans! The Great Lakes have an enormous amount of gorgeous coastline. Here, we call ours the "Fresh Coast." No salt smell, but there are always sails, ships, beaches, dunes, cliffs, seagulls and people to watch.
In Milwaukee, most of the coastline is park, and long portions of the Oak Leaf Trail abut the shore of Lake Michigan and/or the rim of the bluffs, offering panoramas of our harbor, beaches, parks, skyline and lakefront attractions. To the south, Chicago's Lakefront Trail stretches for miles and miles, also mostly through parks. To the north, smaller sections of trail in Port Washington, Manitowoc, Algoma and Door counties also offer stunning lake views.
Steve Tgettis — Salem, Mass.
Asking for the best coastal rail-trail seems like asking what the best wine is. What makes something "the best" is highly subjective. Like a good wine, a good trail is often best when enjoyed with good company in a good environment. That being said, I'm somewhat impartial to the good times I've had with my best friend—who just also happens to be my wife, Sue—on the East Bay Bicycle Path outside Providence, R.I.
Sue isn't quite the avid biker I am (I've cycled just under 28,000 miles since 1989), but she has learned the joy of the pedal. She is also new to coastal life, since she has spent most of her life in inland New England and now has to be dragged away from the ocean on vacations.
What makes the East Bay Bicycle Path so ideal from our perspective is that it offers the usual bike path advantages, like a well maintained surface, healthy concentration of families, good views, relative safe passage near cities, and so on. However, the paved path has the added advantage of outdoor food and beverages in the summer at the end of the 14 miles in Providence. (Is there anything that doesn't taste good at the end of a ride?)
Sue has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which limits her exertion level. But she's not a quitter and, as in the case of all converted rail-trails, the East Bay Bicycle Path has modest grade levels that are ideal for people with compromised breathing. The path is also naturally air-conditioned since it runs along Narragansett Bay and offers a cool breeze for much of the summer.
Others may disagree, but for me the East Bay Bicycle Path is my nominee for the best coastal bike trail.