Best Trails of 2017 According to You!

Posted 01/25/18 by Laura Stark in America's Trails, Success Stories, Health and Wellness, Trail Use

Chicago Lakefront Trail | Photo by TrailLink user kristincreager

America has an amazing collection of multiuse trails with scenery and experiences as diverse as the country itself. More than 3,800 trails are currently included on, our nationwide trail-finder database—and more are added every week. Here, are the top 10 most-viewed trails by the 7 million+ trail enthusiasts who visited the website last year.

Wissahickon Valley Park Trail (Pennsylvania)

Wissahickon Valley Park Trail | Photo by TrailLink user rcpat

Winding along a sylvan creek, the Wissahickon Valley Park Trail is aptly also known as Forbidden Drive Trail. Tucked under a dense canopy of trees within a park designated as a National Natural Landmark, the 7-mile pathway has the feeling of a secluded hideaway in northwest Philadelphia. At its southern end, the trail connects to the short-but-sweet Lincoln Drive Trail, which in turn connects to the larger Schuylkill River Trail, an incredibly scenic and developing pathway that will one day extend nearly 130 miles throughout southeastern Pennsylvania. All three are part of the Circuit Trails, an expansive network of interconnected trails in the Greater Philadelphia region and an RTC TrailNationTM project.

Chicago Lakefront Trail (Illinois)

Chicago Lakefront Trail | Photo by TrailLink user vikemaze

Skirting Lake Michigan and going through the heart of Chicago, the 19-mile Chicago Lakefront Trail offers stunning scenery and access to many cultural and tourist attractions. Starting at its southern end, the paved pathway winds through Jackson Park and past the Museum of Science and Industry as well as Promontory Point with its skyline views. Visitors will pedal through Burnham Park and catch other interesting sights heading north, such as Soldier Field, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium, just before entering downtown’s Grant Park. More is yet to come with Lincoln Park—home to a zoo, conservatory and nature museum—as well as a string of beaches as the trail winds to its end.

Island Line Rail Trail (Vermont)

Island Line Rail Trail | Photo by David Alexander

Heading north from Burlington along a sandy beach, travelers on Vermont’s 13-mile Island Line Rail Trail will enjoy beautiful vistas of New York’s Adirondack Mountains across Lake Champlain. Continuing on, trail goers will cross an elevated boardwalk through a nature preserve and a 600-foot pedestrian bridge over the mouth of the Winooski River as they enter Colchester. A highlight of this Hall of Fame Rail-Trail comes next with a unique, 3-mile marble causeway over the lake; a 200-foot gap in this section requires a quick ride on a ferry, which drops visitors off on the pastoral island of South Hero to finish their trip.

American River Bike Trail (California)

American River Bike Trail | Photo by TrailLink user iamstevor

Winding along a beautiful, tree-lined river, the American River Bike Trail begins in Sacramento and heads northeast for 32 paved miles to Folsom Lake. On either end are popular parks with beaches and boating access: Discovery Park to the west at the confluence of the American and Sacramento rivers, and Beal’s Point to the east on Folsom Lake’s shoreline. In between, the trail offers a connection to numerous other parks and recreational areas to take in the scenic natural surroundings of northern California.

Monon Trail (Indiana)

Monon Trail | Photo by Dina Varano

Beginning in Indianapolis, the Monon Trail is undeniably urban. Just a block from its southern trailhead is the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, which spans five downtown cultural districts with museums, theaters, shops and restaurants. All along the paved 23-mile route, there are interesting sights, including the bright-red former railroad trestle over Fall Creek, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, local artwork and a historical depot built in 1883. On its north end, this Hall of Fame Rail-Trail also connects the charming central Indiana communities of Broad Ripple, Carmel and Westfield.

Shining Sea Bikeway (Massachusetts)

Shining Sea Bikeway | Photo by Leeann Sinpatanasakul

True to its name, the Shining Sea Bikeway offers outstanding views of marshes, rivers and the Atlantic Ocean in the idyllic setting of Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. Travelers beginning at the north end in Falmouth will be rewarded near the end of their journey with a swim and sunbathing at Surf Drive Beach in Woods Hole, a historical seaside fishing village. This charming route, spanning nearly 11 paved miles, was named after the lyrics to “America the Beautiful,” written by Falmouth resident Katharine Lee Bates.

 don't miss:
 A View From

 New England in Autumn

Little Miami Scenic Trail (Ohio)

Little Miami Scenic Trail | Photo by Abigail Holloran, courtesy Greene County Parks and Trails

It’s no wonder that the 78-mile Little Miami Scenic Trail is in the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Beginning on the outskirts of Cincinnati, the paved pathway winds all the way up to Springfield, along the way crossing historical bridges, passing through tranquil state parks and connecting more than a dozen welcoming small towns. Even better: The trail is part of a vast network of more than 330 miles of off-road trails that travel throughout Ohio’s Miami Valley and is a key link in the cross-state Ohio to Erie Trail.

Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail (California)

Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail | Photo by TrailLink user jijoe

Traversing a state beach along the Pacific Coast in northern California, the Half Moon Bay Coastside Trail has three huge things going for it: location, location, location. In addition to expansive views of the sea and wind-swept trees, trail users on this nearly 5-mile route will have excellent bird watching opportunities here; red-tailed hawks, blue herons and red-winged blackbirds are spotted frequently, and large hawks can often be seen perched on benches and the trail’s split-rail fence. At the north end of the trail, visitors watching the water might also see some great surfing action as Pillar Point is a popular place to catch the waves.

D&L Trail (Pennsylvania)

D&L Trail | Photo by Mark Luethi

Southeast Pennsylvania’s D&L Trail is remarkable not just for its 141-mile length, but also for the diversity of scenery and the dozens of communities it traverses on its journey from Bristol, in the Greater Philadelphia region, to Mountain Top, nestled in the Pocono Mountains. Winding through the lush valleys of the Delaware and Lehigh rivers, the primarily crushed-stone pathway provides access to three incredible state parks and connects travelers with historical sites from the American Revolution through the canal-building and railroading booms of the country’s early industrial era.

 don't miss:
 Trail of the Month

 Pennsylvania’s D&L Trail

Oak Leaf Trail (Wisconsin)

Oak Leaf Trail | Courtesy Wisconsin Bike Fed

Wisconsin’s longest paved trail, the Oak Leaf Trail encircles Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, and spans Milwaukee County nearly edge to edge. The 120-mile pathway puts residents and visitors within foot-powered distance of dozens of parks and attractions of all kinds. Museums, sports venues, a lighthouse, a botanical garden and beer gardens (outdoor bars popular in the beer-loving city) all line the trail. To the east, the Oak Leaf is bordered by Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, which provides some of the trail’s most stunning views. The Oak Leaf Trail also serves as a central gateway to the Route of the Badger, a developing 500-mile trail system and RTC TrailNation project that will span seven counties across southeast Wisconsin.

 don't miss:
 Trail of the Month

 Wisconsin’s Oak Leaf Trail

comments powered by Disqus