Help Us Choose the 2017 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame Inductee

Posted 07/06/17 by Suzanne Matyas in America's Trails

Rio Grande Trail in Colorado | Photo by Rhonda Mock
Rail-Trail Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Louisiana’s Tammany Trace, voted into the 2017 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame by trail supporters from across the country!

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We have a serious problem, and we need your help. This year, there are three extraordinary rail-trails nominated for induction into our prestigious Hall of Fame—but only one can win. Will you help us choose?

The 2017 nominees: Colorado’s Rio Grande Trail, Louisiana’s Tammany Trace and Nevada’s Historic Railroad Trail.

Why these rail-trails? Since 2007, Team RTC’s Hall of Fame committee has considered trails for nomination based on their excellence, leadership, community connections, geographic distribution, scenic value, management and maintenance, historical and cultural significance, usage rate and amenities. Though the number of nominees rising to the top each year varies, one thing is always consistent: how hard it is to pick a winner.

In 2016, for the first time ever, we decided to reach out to you—the trail lovers and users—and ask for your assistance in making this tough choice. And since you were so helpful then, we knew we could count on you again this year! So, before voting closes at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, July 16, please read about the nominees below, and let us know which one you think deserves to join 30 other iconic rail-trails in our Hall of Fame!

Rio Grande Trail, Colorado

Rio Grande Trail in Colorado | Photo courtesy

Coming in second place after the 2016 vote, we knew we had to re-introduce this exceptional rail-trail into the running. Fittingly located in a state recognized for its daring peaks, sunny or snowy skies and dazzling terrain, the beloved Rio Grande Trail treats its users to the wild beauty of all three. Stretching 42 miles to earn the title of longest rail-trail in Colorado, the trail travels from the tinsel town of Aspen at 8,000 feet to the 5,700-foot-high Glenwood Springs. The majority of the path is paved and follows the Roaring Fork River, serving as a popular destination for an average of 85,000 trail users annually.

In addition to being a recreationalist’s dream, the Rio Grande is a spine for a growing trail network and connects several communities. Included in the network are the Glenwood Canyon Recreational Trail, and the developing Crystal Valley Trail and the Lower Valley Trail, which are both part of the state’s “Colorado the Beautiful” initiative to encourage participation in healthy outdoor activities.

Vote for Rio Grande Trail

Tammany Trace, Louisiana

Tammany Trace in Louisiana | Photo courtesy Saint Tammany | CC by 2.0

So much more than a pretty trace, this scenic route was also Louisiana’s first rail-trail conversion. Complete with a bayou, woodlands and 31 bridges (several being the original railroad trestles!), the 27-mile Tammany Trace is a wildlife conservation corridor and sits right across the lake from vibrant New Orleans. The route traces its way across the St. Tammany Parish, transporting an estimated 300,000 annual users through the Northshore communities of Covington, Abita Springs, Mandeville, Lacombe and, most recently, Slidell.  

The trail provides its users with access to greenspace, restaurants, markets, museums and other unique amenities that allow the trail to function as a well-connected cultural and social hot spot. Some of the signature sites include the Covington Trailhead, which looks like an old-fashioned railroad station and is occasionally used as a bandstand; the Abita Springs Mystery House and the Abita Brew Pub; a green caboose-ranger station that announces the presence of the inclusive “Kids Konnection” playground; and the city-block-wide Cultural Interpretative Center in Mandeville.

Vote for Tammany Trace

Historic Railroad Trail, Nevada

Historic Railroad Tunnel Trail in Nevada | Photo by Eric Arnold Photography

A shorter, but sightly trail, the Historic Railroad Trail runs to the west end of the impressive Hoover Dam, just 30 miles from Las Vegas. Created from the corridor of the U.S. Government Construction Railroad,  which once serviced the dam, the nearly 4-mile route is now a designated National Historic Trail and a popular tourist destination. Starting from its desert landscape in Boulder City, the path exposes its users to breathtaking views from above the 247-square-mile Lake Mead as it snakes along the hills of the shoreline, and the cool shock of darkness as it cuts through the volcanic rock of its five 300-to-400-foot-long railroad tunnels, before reaching its end at the powerful dam.  

Besides the thrill of being delivered at the top of the manmade, 6.6-million-ton dam, visitors will also have the opportunity to delight in nature; the surrounding Lake Mead National Recreation Area is considered “America’s most diverse” and is home to bighorn sheep, bats, lizards and colorful wildflowers.

Vote for Historic Railroad Trail

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