Explore the interactive map to learn more about the "Great American" route.
Great American Rail-Trail Preferred Route
The preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail connects 125+ existing rail-trails, greenways and other multiuse paths spanning more than 3,700 miles. These trails are hosting the Great American through their communities, making possible this grand vision of a nation connected by trails. And with more than 52% of the route already on the ground, now is the time to experience the Great American Rail-Trail! Explore the Great American Rail-Trail map above to learn more about the route and to find trails you can visit today.
The “Great American” Criteria
Key to the process of defining the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail with states and trail partners was confirming a route across the country that would provide the highest-quality experience for all types of trail users—from long-distance cyclists and runners to casual daily explorers and everyone in between. Trail criteria were developed to ensure the Great American Rail-Trail would provide safe, nonmotorized travel on a route that is entirely walkable and bikeable. These trail criteria specify that the Great America Rail-Trail be one contiguous route that is reasonably direct between Washington, D.C., and Washington State. It will be separated from vehicle traffic—a minimum of 80 percent initially and ultimately entirely separated when the trail is complete. It will comprise existing trails to the extent possible and will represent trail priorities of the states and local jurisdictions that will host it. And, it will serve as a catalyst for local economic development, including providing services for long-distance travelers.
Discovering America: Reconnecting People and Places
The Great American Rail-Trail promises an all-new American experience. Through 12 states and the District of Columbia, the trail will directly serve nearly 50 million people within 50 miles of the route. Across the nation—and the world—only the limits of imagination will limit its use. Explore the Great American by state.
"There is an inherent legacy in trails. One that honors the past, enriches the present and provides a gift to the future."
—Keith Laughlin, Past RTC President
State by State
The Great American Rail-Trail is a trail for everyone—separated from vehicle traffic, with gentle grades and an unparalleled experience. Key to the process of defining the preferred route of the Great American Rail-Trail was confirming a route across the country that would provide the highest-quality experience for all types of trail users—from long-distance cyclists and runners to casual daily explorers and everyone in between.
RTC worked in close partnership with dozens of state agency representatives and hundreds of trail partners from across the country to assess and define the preferred route for the Great American to ensure a contiguous and reasonably direct route as well as one that complemented state priorities. This is America’s trail, and it is the trail of each of the states that will call it home.
More than 125+ trails will host the Great American Rail-Trail. Protecting these trails through advocacy, volunteerism and donations is key to bringing the vision of the Great American to life.
Meet the Gateway Trails
In every state along the Great American Rail-Trail route, iconic trails make possible this grand vision of a nation connected by trails. These trails have been built through the hard work and ingenuity of the trails community—nonprofit partners, state agencies and volunteers who have rolled up their sleeves to protect and preserve these priceless corridors.
Here are the gateways to the Great American Rail-Trail from east to west:
Click a photo below to view the gallery.
The Great American Rail-Trail will stand alongside our country’s iconic landmarks as a national treasure. For more than 30 years, RTC has envisioned this trail. The time is NOW to complete it. You can help by making a gift to RTC, supporting the national leadership and on-the-ground support—the work to organize people, plans and ideas; trail planning and community engagement; the advocacy and marketing that is necessary to completing the Great American Rail-Trail.