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Using Trails

50 Great Rail-Trails in 50 States

By: Laura Stark
July 18, 2019

Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Rail Trail passes through large stands of lodgepole, spruce, fir and aspen; traverses meadows of grass and sagebrush; crosses numerous streams; and skirts dozens of swamps, bogs, ponds and lakes. Photo by Amber Travsky.
Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Rail Trail passes through large stands of lodgepole, spruce, fir and aspen; traverses meadows of grass and sagebrush; crosses numerous streams; and skirts dozens of swamps, bogs, ponds and lakes. Photo by Amber Travsky.

Since the 1960s, Americans have created more than 2,100 rail-trails all across the country. These popular recreation and transportation routes traverse urban, suburban and rural landscapes, with many preserving historical landmarks, serving as wildlife corridors and connecting parks and other well-loved community assets.

Here are snapshots of some of our favorite rail-trail experiences from all 50 states—demonstrating the beauty, diversity and amazing geography our country is known for. For more details and interactive trail maps, visit TrailLink.com and search for the trails that get your (bike) wheels turning!

Nestled at the southern edge of the Appalachians, Alabama’s Chief Ladiga Trail connects a handful of quaint towns over its 33 paved miles through pastoral landscapes and Talladega National Forest. Photo by Tom Dulaney.
Nestled at the southern edge of the Appalachians, Alabama’s Chief Ladiga Trail connects a handful of quaint towns over its 33 paved miles through pastoral landscapes and Talladega National Forest. Photo by Tom Dulaney.
Alaska’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail offers breataking views of the Chugach Mountains and tidal inlets. Moose are common along this 11-mile wooded escape, yet the paved pathway also rolls right into downtown Anchorage. Photo courtesy Luv Duck Photography.
Alaska’s Tony Knowles Coastal Trail offers breataking views of the Chugach Mountains and tidal inlets. Moose are common along this 11-mile wooded escape, yet the paved pathway also rolls right into downtown Anchorage. Photo courtesy Luv Duck Photography.
Arizona’s 6-mile Peavine Trail begins just south of Watson Lake by the lush Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. From there, the trail winds towards the Granite Dells, massive mounds of weather-beaten rock. Photo by TrailLink user redrock.
Arizona’s 6-mile Peavine Trail begins just south of Watson Lake by the lush Watson Woods Riparian Preserve. From there, the trail winds towards the Granite Dells, massive mounds of weather-beaten rock. Photo by TrailLink user redrock.
The Arkansas River Trail winds just over 21 paved miles through the Little Rock area, connecting several scenic parks and bridges, most notably the Big Dam Bridge, which spans 4,226 feet. Photo by Scott Stark.
The Arkansas River Trail winds just over 21 paved miles through the Little Rock area, connecting several scenic parks and bridges, most notably the Big Dam Bridge, which spans 4,226 feet. Photo by Scott Stark.
The Bizz Johnson Trail winds 25 miles through the dense woodlands of Northern California’s high country and the rugged beauty of the Susan River Canyon, traversing historical tunnels and trestles along the way. Photo by Michael McCullough.
The Bizz Johnson Trail winds 25 miles through the dense woodlands of Northern California’s high country and the rugged beauty of the Susan River Canyon, traversing historical tunnels and trestles along the way. Photo by Michael McCullough.
The windswept beauty of sage brush and scrub oaks, forests of ponderosa and spruce, verdant crops and ranchlands ringed in jagged mountains: The Rio Grande Trail traverses these Colorado landscapes along its 42-mile route. Photo courtesy Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
The windswept beauty of sage brush and scrub oaks, forests of ponderosa and spruce, verdant crops and ranchlands ringed in jagged mountains: The Rio Grande Trail traverses these Colorado landscapes along its 42-mile route. Photo courtesy Roaring Fork Transportation Authority.
The 48-mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail journeys through the heart of Connecticut, traversing lush forests and open farmland, connecting quaint New England towns, and offering glimpses of the past with historical canal locks. Photo by Bill Cannon.
The 48-mile Farmington Canal Heritage Trail journeys through the heart of Connecticut, traversing lush forests and open farmland, connecting quaint New England towns, and offering glimpses of the past with historical canal locks. Photo by Bill Cannon.
Beginning near Delaware’s coastline and Cape Henlopen State Park, the Junction & Breakwater Trail spans just over 6 miles with a backdrop of wetlands, farmland and wooded landscapes. Photo by TrailLink user srbruiser.
Beginning near Delaware’s coastline and Cape Henlopen State Park, the Junction & Breakwater Trail spans just over 6 miles with a backdrop of wetlands, farmland and wooded landscapes. Photo by TrailLink user srbruiser.
Stretching from vibrant St. Petersburg north through several coastal towns, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail offers views of the Gulf Coast and Florida’s beautiful natural environment along nearly 50 miles of paved trail. Photo by Martha Wicker.
Stretching from vibrant St. Petersburg north through several coastal towns, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail offers views of the Gulf Coast and Florida’s beautiful natural environment along nearly 50 miles of paved trail. Photo by Martha Wicker.
Georgia’s Silver Comet Trail runs nearly 62 miles from Smyrna, on the outskirts of Atlanta, to the state line. Highlights include several railroad relics: the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle, Brushy Mountain Tunnel and a restored depot. Photo by Seth Holladay.
Georgia’s Silver Comet Trail runs nearly 62 miles from Smyrna, on the outskirts of Atlanta, to the state line. Highlights include several railroad relics: the Pumpkinvine Creek Trestle, Brushy Mountain Tunnel and a restored depot. Photo by Seth Holladay.
Hugging Kauai’s Coconut Coast, the Ke Ala Hele Makalae offers just over 7 miles of paved pathway with expansive views of the ocean and the chance to spot whales, monk seals and seabirds. Photo by Kevin Clark.
Hugging Kauai’s Coconut Coast, the Ke Ala Hele Makalae offers just over 7 miles of paved pathway with expansive views of the ocean and the chance to spot whales, monk seals and seabirds. Photo by Kevin Clark.
The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes covers nearly 72 paved miles through scenic mountains and valleys in Idaho's Panhandle. Travelers skirt sparkling Lake Coeur d'Alene and cross it on the impressive Chatcolet Bridge. Photo by Lisa James.
The Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes covers nearly 72 paved miles through scenic mountains and valleys in Idaho’s Panhandle. Travelers skirt sparkling Lake Coeur d’Alene and cross it on the impressive Chatcolet Bridge. Photo by Lisa James.
While the eponymous 543-foot tunnel on the Tunnel Hill State Trail is impressive, the 55-mile pathway also boasts 23 trestle bridges and views of spectacular bucolic and forested landscapes in rural southern Illinois. Photo by TrailLink user amandarobertsphotography.
While the eponymous 543-foot tunnel on the Tunnel Hill State Trail is impressive, the 55-mile pathway also boasts 23 trestle bridges and views of spectacular bucolic and forested landscapes in rural southern Illinois. Photo by TrailLink user amandarobertsphotography.
Stretching nearly 62 miles, the Cardinal Greenway is Indiana’s longest rail-trail. Along its length, the pathway offers countryside views, bridges over picturesque waterways and two restored depots. Photo by Jane Holman, courtesy Waynet, Inc.
Stretching nearly 62 miles, the Cardinal Greenway is Indiana’s longest rail-trail. Along its length, the pathway offers countryside views, bridges over picturesque waterways and two restored depots. Photo by Jane Holman, courtesy Waynet, Inc.
The 27-mile High Trestle Trail is a scenic gem in central Iowa. Wrapped in diamond-shaped steel ribs, its eponymous bridge elicits the sensation of traveling down a mine shaft—a nod to the area’s coal-mining history. Photo by David V. Johnson.
The 27-mile High Trestle Trail is a scenic gem in central Iowa. Wrapped in diamond-shaped steel ribs, its eponymous bridge elicits the sensation of traveling down a mine shaft—a nod to the area’s coal-mining history. Photo by David V. Johnson.
Running 51 miles in eastern Kansas, the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail State Park offers a taste of rural America: rolling pastures, wooded ravines, colorful wildflowers, big farms and open skies. Photo by Trent McCown.
Running 51 miles in eastern Kansas, the Prairie Spirit Rail Trail State Park offers a taste of rural America: rolling pastures, wooded ravines, colorful wildflowers, big farms and open skies. Photo by Trent McCown.
The Dawkins Line Rail Trail winds 18 miles across eastern Kentucky's Appalachian region. The rail-trail passes historical coal structures and traverses several trestles and the Gun Creek Tunnel, which spans nearly 700 feet. Photo by TrailLink user crimefighter560.
The Dawkins Line Rail Trail winds 18 miles across eastern Kentucky’s Appalachian region. The rail-trail passes historical coal structures and traverses several trestles and the Gun Creek Tunnel, which spans nearly 700 feet. Photo by TrailLink user crimefighter560.
Nestled among piney woods and moss-draped oaks, attractions along the 27-mile Tammany Trace include Lake Pontchartrain, Fontainebleau State Park and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Mark Orfila.
Nestled among piney woods and moss-draped oaks, attractions along the 27-mile Tammany Trace include Lake Pontchartrain, Fontainebleau State Park and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. Photo by Mark Orfila.
The Eastern Trail traces Maine’s southern coast from near Kennebunk to South Portland. A highlight of the nearly 30-mile route is Scarborough Marsh, a breathtaking expanse of saltwater wetlands. Photo by Katie Guerin.
The Eastern Trail traces Maine’s southern coast from near Kennebunk to South Portland. A highlight of the nearly 30-mile route is Scarborough Marsh, a breathtaking expanse of saltwater wetlands. Photo by Katie Guerin.
Maryland’s Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail offers a serene and tree-canopied experience over its 19.5 miles, and the paralleling Big Gunpowder Falls doubles the recreational opportunities with swimming, fishing and tubing. Photo by Katie Harris.
Maryland’s Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail offers a serene and tree-canopied experience over its 19.5 miles, and the paralleling Big Gunpowder Falls doubles the recreational opportunities with swimming, fishing and tubing. Photo by Katie Harris.
The 10-mile Minuteman Commuter Bikeway travels through the famous Revolutionary towns of Arlington and Lexington. Nods to the trail’s railroad history can also be found with restored depots, a freight house and a rail car. Photo by Andrew Riedl.
The 10-mile Minuteman Commuter Bikeway travels through the famous Revolutionary towns of Arlington and Lexington. Nods to the trail’s railroad history can also be found with restored depots, a freight house and a rail car. Photo by Andrew Riedl.
The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail traverses pastoral countryside and charming small towns over its 30 miles in central Michigan. Start at the Tridge, a unique bridge featuring three spokes spanning the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers. Photo by Craig Hanchey.
The Pere Marquette Rail-Trail traverses pastoral countryside and charming small towns over its 30 miles in central Michigan. Start at the Tridge, a unique bridge featuring three spokes spanning the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers. Photo by Craig Hanchey.
Nestled in woodlands, the Paul Bunyan State Trail skirts numerous lakes on its 119-mile journey. One of the longest rail-trails in the country, the pathway connects more than a dozen communities in north-central Minnesota. Photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Nestled in woodlands, the Paul Bunyan State Trail skirts numerous lakes on its 119-mile journey. One of the longest rail-trails in the country, the pathway connects more than a dozen communities in north-central Minnesota. Photo courtesy Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Stretching over 42 miles from Hattiesburg to small-town Prentiss, Mississippi’s Longleaf Trace visits wetlands, small lakes and pine forests that include the trail’s namesake, the longleaf pine. Photo by Jake Lynch.
Stretching over 42 miles from Hattiesburg to small-town Prentiss, Mississippi’s Longleaf Trace visits wetlands, small lakes and pine forests that include the trail’s namesake, the longleaf pine. Photo by Jake Lynch.
At nearly 240 miles long, Katy Trail State Park spans nearly the full width of Missouri, journeying through rural farmland, quaint towns and towering bluffs carved by the Missouri River. Photo by Danielle Taylor.
At nearly 240 miles long, Katy Trail State Park spans nearly the full width of Missouri, journeying through rural farmland, quaint towns and towering bluffs carved by the Missouri River. Photo by Danielle Taylor.
The Bitterroot Trail offers 51 paved miles in Montana's scenic Bitterroot Valley. Along the way, travelers are treated to stunning views of the Bitterroot Range and the Sapphire Mountains. Photo by Saara Snow.
The Bitterroot Trail offers 51 paved miles in Montana’s scenic Bitterroot Valley. Along the way, travelers are treated to stunning views of the Bitterroot Range and the Sapphire Mountains. Photo by Saara Snow.
The Cowboy Trail offers some of Nebraska’s best scenery: native prairie, grass-covered dunes and lush river valleys. It traverses more than 200 bridges, including the stunning Niobrara River Valley crossing. Photo by Eric Foster.
The Cowboy Trail offers some of Nebraska’s best scenery: native prairie, grass-covered dunes and lush river valleys. It traverses more than 200 bridges, including the stunning Niobrara River Valley crossing. Photo by Eric Foster.
Although less than 4 miles, Nevada’s Historic Railroad Trail is a worthwhile adventure offering panoramic views of Lake Mead and passage through five railroad tunnels on its way toward Hoover Dam. Photo courtesy Eric Arnold Photography.
Although less than 4 miles, Nevada’s Historic Railroad Trail is a worthwhile adventure offering panoramic views of Lake Mead and passage through five railroad tunnels on its way toward Hoover Dam. Photo courtesy Eric Arnold Photography.
Spanning nearly 60 miles, the Northern Rail Trail is New Hampshire’s longest rail-trail conversion. Much of the trail is lushly forested and rich in wildlife, including moose, wild turkeys and eagles. Photo by TrailLink user kltron.
Spanning nearly 60 miles, the Northern Rail Trail is New Hampshire’s longest rail-trail conversion. Much of the trail is lushly forested and rich in wildlife, including moose, wild turkeys and eagles. Photo by TrailLink user kltron.
Most of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail’s 70-mile length follows the canal and is dotted with 19th-century bridges, old locks, stone-arch culverts and other remnants of its history. Photo by Kevin Mills.
Most of the Delaware & Raritan Canal State Park Trail’s 70-mile length follows the canal and is dotted with 19th-century bridges, old locks, stone-arch culverts and other remnants of its history. Photo by Kevin Mills.
The Santa Fe Rail-Trail begins in New Mexico’s capital city and heads south 17 miles through the beautiful red terrain of the southwestern desert, with yucca, cacti and other succulents along the path. Photo courtesy Scott Belonger, P.E., Associate Principal for Loris and Associates.
The Santa Fe Rail-Trail begins in New Mexico’s capital city and heads south 17 miles through the beautiful red terrain of the southwestern desert, with yucca, cacti and other succulents along the path. Photo courtesy Scott Belonger, P.E., Associate Principal for Loris and Associates.
A trio of connected Hall of Fame rail-trails—the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson and William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail—form a seamless 20-mile paved pathway capturing the beauty of New York’s Hudson Valley. Photo by Ryan Cree.
A trio of connected Hall of Fame rail-trails—the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, Walkway Over the Hudson and William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail—form a seamless 20-mile paved pathway capturing the beauty of New York’s Hudson Valley. Photo by Ryan Cree.
Beginning in Durham, the American Tobacco Trail extends more than 22 miles south offering an enjoyable mix of urban and rural environments. Photo by TrailLink user susiepop66.
Beginning in Durham, the American Tobacco Trail extends more than 22 miles south offering an enjoyable mix of urban and rural environments. Photo by TrailLink user susiepop66.
Northern Cass Pass provides a tranquil, 6-mile route through the countryside, connecting the friendly rural communities of Arthur and Hunter, about 35 miles from Fargo on the North Dakota state line. Photo by TrailLink user renzapup.
Northern Cass Pass provides a tranquil, 6-mile route through the countryside, connecting the friendly rural communities of Arthur and Hunter, about 35 miles from Fargo on the North Dakota state line. Photo by TrailLink user renzapup.
Winding its way northeast from Cincinnati for 78 miles through state parks and small towns, the Little Miami Scenic Trail offers a tranquil, paved route through Ohio’s scenic Miami Valley region. Photo by Abigail Holloran, courtesy Greene County Parks and Trails.
Winding its way northeast from Cincinnati for 78 miles through state parks and small towns, the Little Miami Scenic Trail offers a tranquil, paved route through Ohio’s scenic Miami Valley region. Photo by Abigail Holloran, courtesy Greene County Parks and Trails.
In just over 6 miles, Oklahoma City’s Katy Trail connects several of the city’s top attractions, including museums, parks, the Remington Park racetrack and casino, and the zoo. Photo by TrailLink user jameslrhodes.
In just over 6 miles, Oklahoma City’s Katy Trail connects several of the city’s top attractions, including museums, parks, the Remington Park racetrack and casino, and the zoo. Photo by TrailLink user jameslrhodes.
The Banks-Vernonia State Trail connects two peaceful towns in the foothills of Northwest Oregon’s Coast Range. Thirteen bridges, as well as two 700-foot-long railroad trestles, offer amazing views. Photo by Kelly R. Williams.
The Banks-Vernonia State Trail connects two peaceful towns in the foothills of Northwest Oregon’s Coast Range. Thirteen bridges, as well as two 700-foot-long railroad trestles, offer amazing views. Photo by Kelly R. Williams.
Overnight bicycle riders and hikers flock to the Great Allegheny Passage (gaptrail.org). Spanning 150-miles in Western Pennsylvania, the rail-trail offers welcoming small towns, cool tunnels, bridges with jaw-dropping views and beautiful natural surroundings. Photo by Milo Bateman.
Overnight bicycle riders and hikers flock to the Great Allegheny Passage (gaptrail.org). Spanning 150-miles in Western Pennsylvania, the rail-trail offers welcoming small towns, cool tunnels, bridges with jaw-dropping views and beautiful natural surroundings. Photo by Milo Bateman.
The East Bay Bike Path offers a quintessential New England experience. Traveling just over 14 miles between Providence and Bristol, the trail visits eight parks as it skirts historical waterfronts. Photo by Scott Stark.
The East Bay Bike Path offers a quintessential New England experience. Traveling just over 14 miles between Providence and Bristol, the trail visits eight parks as it skirts historical waterfronts. Photo by Scott Stark.
At the doorstep to the Blue Ridge Mountains, South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit Trail offers a town-and-country experience: beautiful natural environments with all the charms of civilization—restaurants, shops and attractions—close at hand. Photo by Barry Peters.
At the doorstep to the Blue Ridge Mountains, South Carolina’s Swamp Rabbit Trail offers a town-and-country experience: beautiful natural environments with all the charms of civilization—restaurants, shops and attractions—close at hand. Photo by Barry Peters.
South Dakota’s 109-mile Mickelson Trail travels from the former gold-mining boomtown of Deadwood south over old railroad bridges, through rock tunnels and evergreen forests, and into the heart of the Black Hills. Photo by Pete Ryan.
South Dakota’s 109-mile Mickelson Trail travels from the former gold-mining boomtown of Deadwood south over old railroad bridges, through rock tunnels and evergreen forests, and into the heart of the Black Hills. Photo by Pete Ryan.
Memphis’ Shelby Farms Greenline unfurls under a canopy of oaks and other shade trees, and is dotted with bridges over scenic wetland and riparian areas. A highlight is the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park. Photo courtesy Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
Memphis’ Shelby Farms Greenline unfurls under a canopy of oaks and other shade trees, and is dotted with bridges over scenic wetland and riparian areas. A highlight is the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park. Photo courtesy Shelby Farms Park Conservancy.
Texas’ Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway offers a relaxing outdoor escape just west of Fort Worth. The 20-mile pathway crosses gently rolling hills, small creeks and remote farm fields and ranch lands. Photo by Conner Pulliam.
Texas’ Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway offers a relaxing outdoor escape just west of Fort Worth. The 20-mile pathway crosses gently rolling hills, small creeks and remote farm fields and ranch lands. Photo by Conner Pulliam.
The Provo River Parkway follows its eponymous waterway from Utah Lake State Park to the mouth of Provo Canyon. Along the way, the 15-mile trail passes Bridal Veil Falls for a spectacular view. Photo by Cindy Barks.
The Provo River Parkway follows its eponymous waterway from Utah Lake State Park to the mouth of Provo Canyon. Along the way, the 15-mile trail passes Bridal Veil Falls for a spectacular view. Photo by Cindy Barks.
Vermont’s Island Line Rail Trail offers the opportunity to travel through Burlington, take in dramatic lakefront views with a mountain backdrop and glide over Lake Champlain on a marble causeway. Photo by David Alexander.
Vermont’s Island Line Rail Trail offers the opportunity to travel through Burlington, take in dramatic lakefront views with a mountain backdrop and glide over Lake Champlain on a marble causeway. Photo by David Alexander.
The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches almost 33 miles through woodlands, rolling farmland and charming small towns. Look for its railroad remnants, including numerous bridges, depots, and trailside railcars and engines. Photo by Darryl Church.
The Virginia Creeper Trail stretches almost 33 miles through woodlands, rolling farmland and charming small towns. Look for its railroad remnants, including numerous bridges, depots, and trailside railcars and engines. Photo by Darryl Church.
Spanning more than 200 miles across Washington, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail offers rugged and pristine countryside on its eastern half and the dense forests of the Cascade foothills to the west. Photo by Craig Messerman.
Spanning more than 200 miles across Washington, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail offers rugged and pristine countryside on its eastern half and the dense forests of the Cascade foothills to the west. Photo by Craig Messerman.
The 77-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail is the crown jewel of West Virginia’s impressive trail collection. Following the river, travelers will be immersed in the serenity and solitude of this forested trail. Photo by Paul G. Ericson.
The 77-mile-long Greenbrier River Trail is the crown jewel of West Virginia’s impressive trail collection. Following the river, travelers will be immersed in the serenity and solitude of this forested trail. Photo by Paul G. Ericson.
Set amid a Wisconsin landscape of rolling hills and farmland, the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail offers a relaxing ride. Highlights of the route are its three dramatic railroad tunnels that burrow deep through rock. Photo by Eric Reischl Photography.
Set amid a Wisconsin landscape of rolling hills and farmland, the 32-mile Elroy-Sparta State Trail offers a relaxing ride. Highlights of the route are its three dramatic railroad tunnels that burrow deep through rock. Photo by Eric Reischl Photography.
Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Rail Trail passes through large stands of lodgepole, spruce, fir and aspen; traverses meadows of grass and sagebrush; crosses numerous streams; and skirts dozens of swamps, bogs, ponds and lakes. Photo by Amber Travsky.
Wyoming’s Medicine Bow Rail Trail passes through large stands of lodgepole, spruce, fir and aspen; traverses meadows of grass and sagebrush; crosses numerous streams; and skirts dozens of swamps, bogs, ponds and lakes. Photo by Amber Travsky.
Laura Stark | Photo courtesy Laura Stark
Laura Stark

Laura Stark is the senior editor for Rails to Trails magazine, responsible for highlighting trails and the people working hard to support them across America.

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