Green Issue 2021

Now, More Than Ever—Trails Connect Us

For the past year and a half, trails have proven to be more important than ever for the health, joy, respite—and resilience—of the nation. Never before have trails meant so much. 

In our all-multimedia 2021 Green Issue of Rails to Trails, we explore the many ways that rail-trails and multiuse trails are transforming and connecting communities—uniting people and places across entire regions of the country.

Trails Connect Everyone, Everywhere

These challenging times have brought into sharp focus the importance of trails, and the urgency with which we need to address the lack of access that exists to these vital places and spaces in many communities. Here, RTC President Ryan Chao and Trailblazer Society Manager Jorge Brito discuss how RTC is harnessing this urgency to bring its vision into reality—to connect the nation like never before.

Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.

Connecting America by Trail

History Along the Great American Rail-Trail™

As work to complete the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail moves forward, RTC has embarked on an endeavor through its national trail-finder website,™, to examine and celebrate the unique history of people and places along the trail’s iconic route. In this video, we explore the history of three sites connected across distance and time by the developing trail, including the Alexandria Aqueduct in Washington, D.C., Our Lady of the Rockies in Butte, Montana, and WWII pilot Sator Sanchez of Joliet, Illinois.

Produced by Rails to Trails magazine.

Featuring Avigail Oren, lead historian; Dr. Pat Munday, Montana Technological University; Mike Nardollili, Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin.

Great American History: A Kick-Off With the Creators

Comprising hundreds of stories and points of interest, “History Along the Great American Rail-Trail” shines a light on an array of people, landmarks and innovations that were critical to shaping and defining this storied corridor. In this interview in Rails to Trails’ Spring/Summer 2021 issue, we chatted with the project’s creators to learn more about the project, which launches later this summer.

Produced by Rails to Trails magazine.


Capital Crescent Trail in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Jon Lowenstein
Capital Crescent Trail in Washington, D.C. | Photo by Jon Lowenstein

Progress Along the Great American Rail-Trail

Want to know how things are progressing for America’s iconic, developing cross-country rail-trail? Check out this video on the progress Montana is making for its section of the Great American, which currently covers 94 existing miles of host trails and is 22% complete.

Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


Washington State’s Spruce Railroad Trail

Need a zen moment? Check out this stunning aerial footage taken and edited by Jason Buss of the Spruce Railroad Trail and Crescent Lake at Olympic National Park—along the developing route of the Great American Rail-Trail in Washington State.

Produced by Jason Buss. Used by permission.


Connecting America’s Active Transportation System

In Greenville, South Carolina, and Anchorage, Alaska, and through the industrial heartland in West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York, communities are creating trail and active transportation networks that are creating new safe places for people to walk and bike, while spurring economic development and outdoor tourism. Featured here are just a handful of examples that are representative of work being done nationwide on hundreds of projects, which are leveraging existing trails to create safe, convenient and connected trail systems—worth billions in economic activity.

Learn why dedicated federal funding for connected trail networks is essential and how it can make a big impact.

Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


Uniting a Trail Nation

Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail | Photo by Richard T. Bower
Connecting the Industrial Heartland

This video series explores how the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition (IHTC), a developing 1,500-mile trail network experience across 51 counties and four states—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York—will have an impact on the region for economic development, tourism, connectivity and overall quality of life. Hear from some of voices on the ground of this RTC TrailNation™ project.


Baltimore photo gallery
Baltimore: Creating New Connections to the Outdoors

The Baltimore Greenway Trails Network, an RTC TrailNation project, will one day connect the city of Baltimore with 35 miles of multiuse pathways connecting 75+ neighborhoods. In this feature blog, we catch up with four trail advocates who are on the ground in Baltimore to learn about what trails have meant to them during the pandemic, and why the developing trail network could be so impactful for themselves and their neighbors.


Hidden in Plain Sight – Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park screenshot
Hidden in Plain Sight: Gwynns Falls/ Leakin Park

View the beauty of Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park, a major natural attraction along the Baltimore Greenway Trails Network—and learn about a current initiative to help preserve and protect this revered open space. Consisting of more than 1,000 acres, Gwynns Falls/Leakin Park comprises the second largest woodland park in the country and is also the largest urban forest in the eastern United States.


Photo by Cindy Barks
New Mexico: Cloud-Climbing Trestle Trail 

Experience the Cloud-Climbing Trestle Trail, sometimes referred to as the Mexican Canyon Trestle Trail for the landmark feature at its end, a moderately challenging, but beautiful, climb through the Trestle Recreation Area in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Along with the Crossover Trail and Switchback Trail, it makes for a stunning out-and-back hiking/mountain biking/horseback riding experience in Otero County, New Mexico.


Screenshot of Indigenous Place Names Project video
Indigenous Place Names Project

Anchorage Park Foundation is part of the Indigenous Place Names Project—which seeks to recognize and honor the Dena’ina language, knowledge and innovations in Anchorage. Learn how the foundation is engaging in Dena’ina artistic placemaking in parks and trails.


Blue Ridge Tunnel Trail - Photo by TrailLink user dianerjone
The Tunnel (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Learn about the creation—and recreation—of the nearly mile-long Blue Ridge Railroad Tunnel in Charlottesville, Virginia, which was originally built in the 1850s. Closed in 1944, the tunnel reopened in 2020 as a historical site and rail-trail tourist attraction.


Black History Bootcamp - The Walking Podcast by GirlTrek screenshot
Black History Bootcamp: A Walking Podcast

Produced by GirlTrek, this podcast guides a 21-day walking meditation series—designed to help women stay engaged and connected—that celebrates Black stories and lessons from the foremothers and ancestors of the African American community. 


Rails to Trails Magazine Promo
Rails To Trails Magazine

Explore America's remarkable trails and trail networks and learn about their impacts on communities across the nation with your year-long subscription to Rails to Trails magazine—a benefit of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy membership. As a member, you'll also support the pathways you love and create a nation connected by trails.


Department Features

Photos by Charles Martin, courtesy Raccoon River Valley Trail and courtesy Delaware State Parks

2021 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame Voting Begins!

Since 2007, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has been recognizing exemplary trails in our Rail-Trail Hall of FameVoting for this year's inductee is now open through Aug. 6, 2021!


Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton delivering her keynote remarks at the May 8, 2019, launch of the Great American Rail-Trail in Washington, D.C. | Courtesy RTC
A Champion Linking the Nation by Trail: An Interview with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

For her long-standing efforts to support trail networks in her native Washington, D.C., and across the United States, RTC was honored to name Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) America’s 2020 Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion.


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s 2020 Impact Report

While 2020 brought immense hardship in countless ways, America embraced the full value of our nation’s trails like never before—thanks to trail lovers like you who came together to support and advocate for the pathways that bring so much to our lives. Together, we have made big strides in creating a nation connected by trail, which matters more than ever.

Join us in exploring the impact made by the national rail-trail movement in 2020 through this interactive report.

Produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.


Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Impact Report FY 2020
Bike lanes to Capitol stock image
Capitol Hill On the Verge of a Trails, Walking and Biking Revolution

For years, the team at RTC has worked with our champions on Capitol Hill and partners across the country to push for transformative federal transportation policy change. With the passage of the INVEST in America Act of 2021 in the U.S. House of Representatives in July 2021 and progress on the Senate’s version of the federal surface transportation reauthorization, we're closer than ever to making it happen.

Get the latest on what's on the horizon as Congress creates the next transportation bill and the White House works to prioritize infrastructure investment—and learn how you can be a part of the effort to help make a transformative bill a reality.


New USDOT Report Provides 25 Years of Lessons Learned for Rails-with-Trails

The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) released “Rails-with-Trails: Best Practices and Lessons Learned”—a long-awaited update to its first release, published in 2002. Offering in-depth insights on the design, development, operations and benefits of rails-with-trails in America, the report has served as an authoritative resource for trail builders for nearly two decades. Read a recent blog about the release of report.

Produced by USDOT’s Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy for the Federal Highway Administration. Authored by Jared Fijalkowski, Gina Filosa, Jamie Young (Volpe Center); Anthony Lucivero (Digital iBiz); Andrea Ferster, Eli Griffen, Kelly Pack (Rails-to-Trails Conservancy).


Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Photo by Jake Lynch
Three Rivers Heritage Trail in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania | Photo by Jake Lynch


A flagship program of RTC, is the nation’s foremost trail-finder website, with a collection of more than 4,100 trails covering 37,000+ miles across the United States. Join the millions of trail lovers who use the interactive website and companion iPhone and Android apps to find new and favorite trails for safe, fun experiences in the outdoors.  iPhone App  Android App

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Green Issue Staff

Vice President of Communications: Brandi Horton
Editor-in-Chief: Amy Kapp
Digital Content Editor: Laura Stark
Video Production: Anthony Le
Graphics/Web Design: Anthony Le
Distribution: Ryan Cree, Suzanne Matyas, Amy Garleski

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Rails to Trails magazine is dedicated to exploring America’s remarkable rail-trails and trail-networks, with a focus on the opportunities they provide and the impact they have in communities nationwide.