It’s Time to Vote for America’s 2019 Rail-Trail Hall of Famer

Posted 07/01/19 by Maggie McAden in America's Trails

As summer heats up, so does our hunt for America’s next Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee—and we want you to help pick! We searched far and wide for trails with exceptional scenic value, high use, trail amenities, historical significance, management and maintenance, community connections and other Hall-of-Fame traits. After great deliberation, our team managed to narrow down our lengthy list to these three nominees:

And the 2019 Rail-Trail Hall of Fame nominees are ...

Glacial Drumlin STATE Trail | Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail | Tanglefoot Trail
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Now we leave it up to you—America’s trail enthusiasts—to select our 33rd Rail-Trail Hall of Fame inductee! Voting will run July 2–10, and you can vote as many times as you want before the deadline! Please let us know which trail you believe deserves a place among America’s list of most superlative pathways—and encourage your friends and family to vote as well! We’ll unveil the winner in the July 2019 Green Issue of Rails to Trails magazine.

Check out this year’s terrific nominees below, and be sure to share your favorite on social media using hashtag #RailTrailHOF!

Glacial Drumlin State Trail, Wisconsin

Providing an icy blast from the past, this 52-mile trail winds its way through southeastern Wisconsin—where glaciers dominated during the last Ice Age and have left behind a stunning collection of wetlands, ponds, rivers and drumlins. It’s also where the Glacial Drumlin State Trail, which connects 10 small towns from Cottage Grove to Waukesha, got its name. Part of the trail even runs parallel to the Ice Age Trail! In the 1880s, this diverse landscape proved to be challenging for the Chicago and North Western Railway’s builders—and trains—due to its mucky wetlands, and it was converted to a rail-trail in 1986. Now, it is home to bikers, walkers, runners, recreationists and wildlife!

Along the way, trail users can camp, fish and access a variety of great local destinations, including greenspace, restaurants, gardens, museums and historical sites. The Aztalan State Park and Museum provides visitors with an educational side trip to an archaeological site containing structures built by Native Americans more than 1,000 years ago. The Lewis Station Winery and the Olbrich Botanical Gardens complete this cultural, natural, historic—and delectable—trail experience!

Interesting Fact: Plans exist to connect this trail to Madison via the Capital City State Trail and to Milwaukee via the New Berlin Recreation Trail.

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Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail, New Jersey

Meet the crown jewel of New Jersey! As the state’s longest completed multiuse trail, the 72.8-mile Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail follows portions of both the Delaware and Raritan Canal Towpath and the former Belvidere Delaware Railroad. The canals were initially built in the 1830s to transport coal, but railroads eventually rendered the waterways obsolete. A part of the Circuit Trails, an RTC TrailNation™ Project; the developing September 11th National Memorial Trail and the East Coast Greenway, the trail begins in Alexandria Township and ends in New Brunswick, connecting many towns along the way, including the capital city! The trail features six bridges, and visitors can cross the Delaware River from Trenton to Morrisville to explore the massive D&L Trail, which spans 140 miles on the Pennsylvania side.

The D&R Canal State Park Trail has something for every kind of trail user. Outdoor adventurers and nature lovers can canoe or check out three visit-worthy farms: Howell Living History, Holcombe-Jimison and Duke, the latter of which, just a short drive away, is a 1,000-acres-plus environmental and wildlife landscape. Those who love history can enjoy a range of 19th-century treasures, from rail depots to bridge-tender houses and even an early-18th-century gristmill. Cross the river in Titusville to visit Washington Crossing Historic Park, where George Washington and the Continental Army experienced a tide-turning victory on Christmas Night in 1776.

Interesting Fact: The D&R Canal was once one of America’s biggest transportation canals. During the 1860s and 1870s, 80% of the total carried cargo was Pennsylvania coal.

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Tanglefoot Trail, Mississippi

Mississippi’s Tanglefoot Trail may be our youngest nominee, but the 43.6-mile, fully paved trail has a rich history predating its opening. The trail encompasses a section of corridor originally built in part for the Gulf and Ship Island Railroad—a project spearheaded by Colonel William Falkner, great-grandfather of Nobel-Prize-winning author William Faulkner. The trail is also named after one of the train engines, Tanglefoot, that was a part of the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio rail line. Prior to the railroad, the route was followed by famed explorer Meriwether Lewis and used by Chickasaw Native Americans and deemed the “King’s Highway” in honor of the last Chickasaw King Ishtehotopah. Just off the trail, visiting the Union County Heritage Museum in charming New Albany is an opportunity to learn about the region’s history, including the Chickasaws, the first European settlers and Civil War Reconstruction.

The Magnolia State’s longest trail, the Tanglefoot runs through the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area—a region including part or all of 30 counties in northeast Mississippi whose rich cultural landscapes were shaped by the intersection of Appalachian and Delta cultures. Along the route, trail users will also ride by forests, pastures, wetlands and fields of cotton and soybeans. The trail also connects six communities offering a plethora of opportunities to eat, rest, shop and explore, including New Albany, Ecru, Pontotoc, Algoma, New Houlka and Houston.

Interesting Fact: This trail runs through three counties in the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, which houses the birthplace of Elvis Presley!

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