IMPACT REPORT FY 2021

Advancing a Great American Icon

Washington's Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail | Photo by TrailLink user scfroehlich

Great American Rail-Trails green registered logo

Since the Great American Rail-Trail® was introduced in 2019, thousands of people have shared their enthusiasm for this vision of an iconic trail that connects the country across 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C., and Washington State.

Hundreds of partners have stepped forward with a collaborative energy for our collective vision. Millions of dollars have been invested in connecting the trail. Leaders across the route are innovating with a strong commitment to finish their portions of the Great American Rail-Trail, which is already 53% complete—with 150+ completed host trails.

Great American Rail-Trail infographic 2022
Great American Rail-Trail infographic 2022 | Download infographic PDF

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RTC'S Kevin Belanger and Marianne Wesley Fowler at the opening of the Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington | Courtesy Kevin Belanger
Opening of the Beverly Bridge along the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in Washington | Courtesy Kevin Belanger

An estimated $15.6 million in public and private funds was invested in FY 2021 to help complete or connect trails along the route. Several major awards supported vital trail connections in Indiana, Iowa and Nebraska. This makes $34+ million raised for the Great American in three years.

Cowboy Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Norfolk Area Nebraska
Cowboy Trail | Photo courtesy Visit Norfolk Area Nebraska

Trail projects in Nebraska, Illinois, Washington, Montana, Ohio, Indiana and Iowa were completed in 2021, making for a collective 2,000+ miles to date, and 120 miles are in the pipeline for development.

Renslow Trestle Bridge - Photo by Matt Hucke - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Renslow Trestle Bridge | Photo courtesy Matt Hucke | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Nebraska celebrated the reopening of the Lied Platte River Bridge—a critical connector in the route between Omaha and Lincoln—in July 2021 after it suffered significant flood damage. In Washington, the refurbished Renslow Trestle in Kittitas County along the 285-mile developing Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail opened, providing a much-needed safe pedestrian/bike crossing over a major multilane interstate.

Great American Rail-Trail GIS map 2022 | Courtesy RTC

Explore the interactive map to learn more about the “Great American” route.

INTERACTIVE MAP

Warrior Expeditions ride began in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Kevin Belanger
Warrior Expeditions ride began in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Kevin Belanger

The Inaugural Expedition

In 2021, five U.S. veterans representing the nonprofit Warrior Expeditions became the first through-riders in history to complete the Great American Rail-Trail (though their journey took them on detour routes as the entire trail is not yet completed).


Related: Army Vet Bikes Washington (D.C.) to Washington (State) | The Zebra

A Pathway for Healing

Among Great American host trails in development is Nebraska’s 4-mile Northern Cheyenne Healing Trail, which received significant funding from the National Park Service Battlefield Protection Program in 2021. The trail will serve to memorialize the legacy of 130 men, women and children held captive in Fort Robinson who made a bold move toward freedom in 1879.

READ THEIR STORY


Related: Great American Rail-Trail: Long Distance AdventURES | TRAILBLOG

Celebrating Progress

In December, partners and trail users from across the country converged to celebrate the progress made to date on the Great American Rail-Trail.