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Trailblazer Society

2019 Trailblazer Tour | Photo by Eric Oberg

Join Trailblazer Society | Upcoming Events | Past Events and Virtual Gatherings

Our Trailblazer Society plays a transformational role in the growth of America’s trail networks. These RTC members provide leadership donations creating a powerful pool of funding for our mission-guided work.

Your generous annual gift of $1,000 or more will help people around the country safely enjoy the outdoors, connect to their communities and build healthy lifestyles.

Exclusive Benefits

In addition to all the benefits of standard membership, including our quarterly membership magazine, Rails to Trails, Trailblazer Society members receive a number of other exciting benefits, including the following:

  • VIP invitations to special events, bike rides, receptions and conferences
  • Complimentary Trail Calendar
  • Updates detailing RTC’s work and recent accomplishments
  • Personal calls and briefings from RTC staff and board members when they visit your local area

An RTC Trailblazer is an individual who helps accelerate our core trail-building efforts with personal commitments of $1,000 or more each year (or a monthly contribution of $84 or more).

At RTC, we recognize the tremendous commitment of Trailblazer Society members with special events, trail information and reports that connect you to the impact of your support.

Please feel free to call the Trailblazer Society team at 202.974.5118, or email us at Trailblazers@railstotrails.org.

Ride Schedule

2014 Trailblazer Bike Ride in Hudson Valley, NY | Photo courtesy RTC
2014 Trailblazer Bike Ride in Hudson Valley, NY | Photo courtesy RTC

Join us for Trailblazer Society rides across the country!

Especially for our Trailblazer members, we’re producing a series of locally guided tours around the country and connecting you to great achievements in the trails movement. Our small group rides bring Trailblazers together with RTC leadership and local trail champions so they can share the history and stories behind the rail-trails and greenways that connect our communities.

Events include our free half-day Trailblazer rides and our annual multi-day Trailblazer Tour supported by acclaimed tour operators Wilderness Voyagers.

Our half-day Trailblazer rides are free and accessible to a wide range of ages and abilities. Typical routes are between 15 and 30 miles and primarily take place on protected trails with minimal ascending and descending (unless otherwise noted).

For more information on these events and to RSVP today, please visit the links below.

Upcoming Events

2024 Trailblazer Tour in Missouri

The 240-mile Katy Trail State Park in Missouri was one of the first railbanked rail-trails in the country. | Photo by Aaron Fuhrman
The 240-mile Katy Trail State Park in Missouri was one of the first railbanked rail-trails in the country. | Photo by Aaron Fuhrman

Join RTC President Ryan Chao and RTC staff for our 2024 Trailblazer Tour in Missouri. We will ride along new segments of the Rock Island Trail and the Katy Trail, a hall of fame trail.

This is a fully supported VIP ride hosted by and benefiting RTC. Join us as we explore what will one day be a more than 400-mile interconnected trail.

Dates: Sept. 9-13, 2024

Location: Missouri

Duration: Multiday tour

Stay tuned for full itinerary.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Trailblazer Tours are fully supported, hotel-based multiday trips. The tour cost is $3,500 for an individual and $6,750 for double occupancy and subject to our cancellation policy. This cost includes lodging, bike rental, meals and ground transportation. Airfare not included. Tour support provided by Wilderness Voyageurs.

5/22 Happy Hour in Pittsburgh

Join RTC staff and Trailblazer Society supporters for a happy hour and meet up in Pittsburgh to learn more about the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition.

RTC staff will discuss this developing TrailNation project that will one day connect four states—Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York—from the shores of Lake Erie to the confluence of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh and beyond.

When: Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.

Where: Sly Fox PGH Brewery at the Highline
46 S 4th Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Contact the Trailblazer Society team at 202.974.5118, or email us at Trailblazers@railstotrails.org for any questions.

Past Events and Virtual Gatherings

Trailblazer Briefing on the Rock Island Trail State Park, MO.

Trailblazer Florida Ride and Briefing

The Trailblazer Society rode on the West Orange Trail in Winter Garden, Florida. RTC’s senior strategist for external relations, Ken Bryan led us on a 14-mile out-and-back ride. Ken, a longtime Florida native and trail advocate, provided an update on our work in the Sunshine State.

Then, we joined Ken in St. Petersburg for a briefing on the Pinellas Loop Trail. Ken discussed the efforts to advance the trail into downtown, as well as the history of local rail corridors.

Date: Jan. 29-30, 2024

Location: Winter Garden and St. Petersburg, FL

A Conversation With Ryan Chao on RTC in 2024

A Conversation With Tom Sexton on Trail Building and Maintenance

Trailblazer Ride: Washington & Old Dominion Trail

The Trailblazer Society went on a leisurely ride along the Washington & Old Dominion Trail in Virginia, starting in Ashburn and heading west towards Paeonian Springs for a 23-mile round-trip ride.

Date: Nov. 2, 2023

Location: W&OD Trail

2023 Trailblazer Tour

Trailblazer Society members joined RTC President Ryan Chao for the 2023 Trailblazer Tour in Maryland and Washington D.C. We rode along part of the Great American Rail-Trail® route on this five-day, four-night tour.

Dates: Sept. 11-15, 2023

Location: Washington, D.C.

A Conversation with Eric Oberg on RTC’s Midwest Regional Office History and Strategy

Trailblazer Trail Walk: Philadelphia

On May 10, 2023, we gathered in Philadelphia for a leisurely stroll along the Delaware River Trail. During the walk, we discussed this trail’s connections to the north and south of Center City and the regional Circuit Trails network. The walk took us to Penn Treaty Park and returned using new sections of the trail.

Trailblazer Ride: Explore Michigan Trails

On May 3, 2023, we explored three great trails in Lansing, Michigan—the Lansing River Trail, the Sycamore Trail and the Valhalla Trail—with fellow trail supporters in the area.

A Conversation with Mary Ellen Koontz: TrailNation Collaborative Launch

2023 Trailblazer Ride in Florida

The ride explored two of Florida’s iconic trails—Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail and the Cross Seminole Trail. RTC Senior Strategist Ken Bryan also provided updates about Coast-to-Coast Trail and other upcoming trail connections.

A Conversation with Ryan Chao: The Trails Movement in 2023

A Conversation with Ken Bryan: Trailblazer Briefing on RTC in Florida past and present

2022 Trailblazer Tour in Idaho

We rode along the spectacular Route of Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in the Idaho panhandle—part of the Great American Rail-Trail®.

Dates: Sept. 12-16, 2022
Location: Idaho

2022 Trailblazer Tour

A Conversation with Tom Sexton: Trailblazer Briefing on the New England Rail-Trail Network

Ride With Us in Maryland

19-mile bike ride with RTC staff and supporters and learn about the progress of the Great American Rail Trail® and plans to resurface the C&O Canal Towpath.

Date: Saturday, May 7, 2022
Location: Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park Parking Intersection of W Main St and N Church St in Hancock, MD.

Pre-Celebrate Trails Day Happy Hour

Pre-Celebrate Trails Day Happy Hour, where supporters and partners met up to discuss RTC’s work in Ohio, including on the Great American Rail-Trail®.

Date: Apr. 22, 2022
Location: Brewcadia, 467 N. High St., Columbus, OH 43215

A Conversation with Suzanne Matyas: History of Celebrate Trails Day

A Conversation with Ryan Chao: 2022 Look Ahead

Trailblazer Briefing on the Great American Rail Trail with Kevin Belanger

A Conversation with Derek Strout, RTC’s GIS Specialist

A Conversation with Brian Housh, RTC’s Policy Manager

A Conversation with Ryan Chao, RTC’s President

Florida’s Coast-to-Coast Trail Ride

We rode 25 miles from Winter Garden to South Apopka and back along the West Orange Trail—one of the popular pathways that make up the route of the 250-mile coast-to-coast Trail. We had a late lunch at the Crooked Can Brewing Company and Plant Street Market, just off the trail. RTC Senior Strategist Ken Bryan also provided updates about this cross-state trail.

Date: Feb. 24, 2020
Location: 8 North Highland Ave., Winter Garden, FL 34787

2019 Trailblazer Tour in Cleveland, OH

RTC staff and members travelled by trail for the 2019 Trailblazer Tour from Yellow Springs, Ohio to Cleveland, riding along the Little Miami Scenic Trail, the Ohio to Erie Trail the Heart of Ohio and many more, following part of the Great American Rail-Trail. This tour ended on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Date: Sept. 3-7, 2019
Location: Yellow Springs, Ohio to Cleveland, Ohio

2019 Trailblazer Tour

Gravel ride with the Trailblazer Society on the Circuit Trails

RTC staff, supporters and members went on a gravel ride that explored how the region’s 750-mile trail network connects us to some of the best off-road gravel riding on the East Coast.

This out-and-back, no-drop group ride led by our friends at Bicycle Therapy.

Date: May 19, 2019
LocationBicycle Therapy 2211 South St., Philadelphia, PA 19146

Trailblazer Opening Day Meetup in Chicago

RTC staff, Trailblazer Society Members and supporters met in the Gallery room at Lagunitas Chicago to kick-start Opening Day for Trails weekend and learn about the Great American Rail-Trail—our exciting coast-to-coast trail project.

Date: April 12, 2019 from 6 to 9 p.m.
Location: 2607 W. 17th St., Chicago, IL 60608

San Francisco, CA Happy Hour

RTC staff and supporters to celebrated a big win in California together. RTC was at the center of a successful effort to pass legislation to support the Great Redwood Trail, which will become the longest trail in the state, and one of the premier rail-trails in the country. This trail will wind hundreds of miles from the San Francisco Bay, through wine country and redwood forests, to end along California’s north coast.

Date: November 30, 2018 from 6 – 8pm
LocationBox Dog Bikes, 494 14th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Westerville, OH Happy Hour

RTC staff, Trailblazer Society Members and supporters enjoyed food and drinks and learned about RTC’s work in OH and across the US. Upcoming projects in the Columbus metro area in 2019 were discussed.

Date: November 8, 2018
LocationWesterville Bike Shop, 29 W Main St, Westerville, OH 43081

2018 Trailblazer Tour on the Katy Trail/Rock Island Trail

Trailblazer Society Members along with RTC staff rode on the famed Katy Trail, including the newly opened Rock Island Spur in Missouri.

Date: June 25-29, 2018
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Duration: Multi-day ride

Circuit Trails Dinner

RTC staff, local partners and fellow Trailblazers enjoyed a special dinner event in Philadelphia to learn more about the Circuit Trails—the 750-mile trail network spanning both sides of the Delaware River.

Date: June 12, 2018
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Erie Canal Towpath Trail & Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail

RTC staff, local partners and fellow Trailblazers had a spring celebration ride along the Cuyahoga River on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail & Cleveland Foundation Centennial Lake Link Trail.

Date: April 7, 2018
Location: Cleveland, OH
Duration: Half-day ride

Happy Hour at Cleveland’s Brick and Barrel

RTC staff, local partners and fellow Trailblazers met for a special Happy Hour event at Cleveland’s Brick and Barrel.

Date: April 6, 2018
Location: Cleveland, OH

Atlanta Beltway Ride in Atlanta, GA

RTC staff, local partners and fellow Trailblazers rode the newly opened Westside Trail—part of the Atlanta Beltway.

Date: March 19, 2018
Location: Atlanta, GA
Duration: Half-day ride

Virginia Capital Trail Ride in Richmond, VA

RTC staff, local partners and fellow Trailblazers went on a 30-mile ride on the Virginia Capital Trail.

Date: November 17, 2017
Location: Richmond, VA
Duration: Half-day ride

2017 Trailblazer Ride on the Great Allegheny Passage

RTC supporters along with staff members rode on the Great Allegheny Passage between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Cumberland, Maryland

Date: July 24-28, 2017
Location: Great Allegheny Passage
Duration: Multi-day ride

Millennium Trail Ride in Round Lake, IL

RTC supporters along with staff members from our National and Midwest offices rode on the Millennium Trail.

Date: June 22, 2017
Location: Round Lake, IL
Duration: Half-day ride

Opening Day for Trails Ride in Richmond, CA

RTC joined Rich City RIDES for a bike ride along the Richmond Greenway.

Date: April 8, 2017
Location: Richmond, CA
Duration: Half-day ride

2016 Trailblazer Tour on Route of Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes

This year’s ride toured the spectacular Route of Hiawatha and the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes in the Idaho panhandle. Mountain vistas, rushing rivers and historic soaring railroad trestles!

Date: July 25-29, 2016
Location: Idaho panhandle
Duration: Multi-day ride

2016 Trailblazer Tour

Discover Austin’s Newest Rail-Trail with RTC and Bike Texas

Opened in the fall of 2014, come see why 10 years in the making was worth the wait for the Southern Walnut Creek Hike and Bike Trail in Austin. Ring in spring with a 16-mile jaunt in new territory. With RTC and Bike Texas, you’ll learn how this new connection came to be, how it’s raising the quality of life in the capital, and what’s coming next for Texas trails.

Date: March 26, 2016
Location: Austin, TX
Duration: Half-day ride

Philadelphia: Opening Day on The Circuit Trails

This year on Opening Day for Trails, join the Trailblazer Society in Philadelphia to take part in an exciting celebration of the region’s new trail network: The Circuit!

Date: April 16, 2016
Location: Philadelphia, Pa.
Duration: Half-day event

Pre-Mother’s Day ride on the Great Allegheny Passage

Date: May 7, 2016
Location: Pittsburgh, Pa.
Duration: Half-day event

Rail-Trails Leadership in San Diego

Our event began on a picturesque morning with a visit from San Diego County Supervisor and Rail-Trail Champion Greg Fox, who gave us an overview of the Bayshore Bikeway trail project, a vision more than 20 years in the making. Transportation Planner Stephan Vance then led us on a ride that provided a close-up look at how San Diego is implementing the exciting undertaking. Visits from the Knickerbikers, ferry rides and a macaroni and cheese festival spiced up our tour of the bay.

Date: Nov. 7, 2015
Location: San Diego, Calif.
Duration: Half-day tour

New Trail Connections in Cleveland

RTC’s vision for a nationwide network of trails is building steam in Cleveland! As a focal point of regional trail development efforts, trails in and around Cleveland are gaining a headlining roll in the future of the region. RTC Midwest Director Eric Oberg and Marty Cader of the City of Cleveland Planning Commission led members on a colorful ride from the heart of the city to Independence, OH, highlighting new segments of the Ohio and Eerie Canal Towpath, a critical artery of the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition’s network.

Date: October 4, 2015
Location: Cleveland, Ohio, area
Duration: Half-day tour

Trailblazer Tours 2015 and Before

Trailblazer Society Events


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