There are many places to bike in this world. Some people like to head out into the wilderness, some prefer to traverse through small towns and rolling hillsides, and many are just happy cruising around their local or neighborhood. One method that can bring you through all three is a rail trail.
Rail trails are disused railway tracks that have been converted into multi-use paths that are good for both walking and cycling. However, such areas can also be used for horse riding and seasonal activities like snowmobiling.
The paths are flat, long and typically move through different historical or scenic areas. They get their name because they are often abandoned railways, but they can be built alongside old railways as well.
The Benefits of Biking Down Rail Trails
While they can be used for many different activities, rail trails are a perfect place to bike. Not only do they allow you to cruise without worrying about cars, but they are also a pleasant way to see a range of interesting areas in a relatively short period of time.
There are tons of different trails in every part of the U.S., but, in this guide, we will break down three of the biggest rail trails and discuss what makes them special.
1. Hudson Valley Rail Trail
The first rail trail we’re going to cover is the Hudson Valley Rail Trail. This multi-use trail sits in New York and is a great area for hiking, biking, horseback riding, or rollerblading. Even in the winter, the 4 mile-stretch can be used for both cross-country skiing and hiking.
The trail, which winds through various populated regions, has plenty of eateries along the way. In addition, there also numerous stops where you can enjoy your lunch. For example, you can get food and then enjoy it at the Black Creek Wetlands Complex, or spend some time at Tony Williams Park.
This the premier rail trail in the Hudson Valley, making it a fun ride through stunning scenery and exciting areas. Not only are there plenty of activities to enjoy along the way, but there are plans for further trail expansion into the long trees and beautiful scenery of the surrounding area.
2. Katy Trail State Park
Next on our list is Katy Trail State Park. This trail is 240 miles long and runs from Machens to Clinton Missouri. The way spans across almost all of Missouri, making it one of the longest continuous rail-trails in the United States. The long ride is an incredible journey that takes bikers through rural farmland, commerce centers, and scenic small towns.
There are many things that make the Katy Trail unique, but one of the most interesting features is that the path is partially made of crushed limestone. In addition, nearly half of its length follows Lewis and Clark’s journey along the Missouri River, giving great insight into America’s storied history. The journey also takes riders through Missouri wine country, and it has many easy-to-access wineries along the way.
It is perfect for anyone who wants to explore the state’s history or get a better in-depth look at the natural scenery.
3. Silver Comet Trail and Chief Lediga Trail
These two trails are lumped together because, unlike the others on this list, they can both be taken together roughly 100 miles. These are distinctly different, but they work together to create one of the longest paved areas in the entire United States.
The Chief Ladiga Trail, which is the shorter of the two, runs through 33 miles of the spanning Alabama countryside. In contrast, the Silver Comet Trail is 62 miles long and goes from the outskirts of Atlanta all the way to the Georgia/Alabama state line. Those two work together to create a stunning and beautiful 100-mile journey through one of the more scenic parts of the south.
Not only do the two trails give you a great look into the states they touch, but they also wind across various different and exciting places. The paths move through two cities, and pass by over a dozen different small and large communities.
A Great Place for a Relaxing Ride
Rail trails are great areas for bikers who want a bit of adventure, but they are also a perfect way to spend a relaxing afternoon. The three outlined in this guide are some of the best options in the United States, but it is likely there is a good trail near you, no matter where you live. If you enjoy biking, hiking, or even horseback riding, look for trails in your area.