10 Best Rails-to-Trails

TravelLeisure.com has come up with a list of the top 10 best rails to trails!

1 – Bizz Johnson Trail

30 Miles from Susanville to Westwood California.

Susanville, CA is 208 miles north of San Francisco.  Start at the 1927 train station and dont stop until you get to the 25-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan at the trail head of Westwood. The trail crisscrosses over the Susan River Canyon 12 times. It weaves back and forth through the forest.

2 – Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway

20 Miles from Mineral Wells to Weatherford, Texas

Starting 40 miles west of Fort Worth the trail winds past horse ranches, longhorn pastures and meadows of wildflowers.

3 – Katy Trail 

225 Miles St. Charles to Clinton, Missouri

Covering nearly the entire state of Missouri, the Katy Trail is the longest rail to trail that runs east-west. This trail covers portions of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

4 – Little Miami Scenic Trail, Ohio

68 Miles Milford to Springfield, Ohio

The trail travels along the Ohio’s Little Miami River. Start at the southern end in Milford and bike down stream for an easy ride.

5 – Pinellas Trail, Florida

35 Miles St. Petersburg to Tarpon, Florida

This is an easy ride along the Gulf of Mexico. Make sure to be in Clearwater at Pier 60 in the evening to enjoy the artist.

6- Virginia Creeper Trail, Virginia 

34 Miles Abingdon to Whitetop, VA

Take a shuttle to the top of the states second highest peak. Cross waterfalls, small towns and ride along the waters edge. This downhill ride is a quick decent to the bottom.

7 – Capital Crescent Trail, Washington DC

12 Miles Georgetown – Silver Spring, MD

This trail is flat asphalt-and-crushed stone that overlooks the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. Beware, this trial is heavily congested with runner, rollerbladers and dog walkers.

8 – Island Line Rail Trail, Vermont 

13 Miles Colchester to Burlington

On the north end,  this trail extend three miles into Lake Champlain on a narrow causeway. The southern section runs along the waterfront in bike-friendly Burlington, VT.

9 – Switchback Railroad Trail, Pennsylvania

18 Miles Jim Thorpe to Summit Hill

In the western Poconos, head to the former mining town of Jim Thorpe. The trail was once the route used to carry coal down to the barges on the Lehigh Canal.

10 – Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Wisconsin

32 Miles Elroy to Sparta

This is the first rails to trails in the Nation! It has three tunnels along the trail so bring a flash light!

GAP trail

Great Allegheny Passage

Recently we’ve been doing a bunch of Rails to Trails type cycling.  With the birth of our first child, our cycling changed from primarily single-track mountain biking to more “touring” centric in order to facilitate the use of a bike trailer.  We utilize the Chariot CX.  (More to follow on the trailer in a gear specific review of it)  Needless to say, we take it everywhere. 

Our family has really been spending some time on these Rails to Trails for the specific reason of use of the Chariot, ability to get out in the woods and the lack of vehicle traffic versus road rides.  This trip takes us to the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail in Pennsylvania.  The GAP trail specifically starts in Cumberland Maryland and ends at Pittsburg Pennsylvania.  When connected with the C&O trail, you could ride from downtown DC to Pittsburg PA (300 + miles) on two track dirt roads.  This 300 mile trip is on our mind for a potential family adventure in the Spring. 
The GAP trail offers very few reasonably priced shuttle services, forcing us to do multiple out and back trips over the weekend.  On this trip, we utilized our Salsa Vaya and Surly Cross Check, easily covering the trail at an average of about 14 MPH. 
The first day we started in Myersdale and biked to Rockwood and back.  We went out approximately 12 miles and ended up biking back as it started to get dark (luckily we had brought some nice bike lights with us). 
We then moved on to Rockwood town and crashed in the Urban Adveture Van (UAV) at the trailhead. The town offered a hostel and a campground on the trail named Husky Haven Campground.  We woke in the morning to some mild cloud cover and reasonable temperatures.  Rolling out around 9 AM we covered approximately 29 miles to the town of Ohiopyle where we hit the local bike store and ordered a pizza at Fox’s Pizza Den.  The pizza was awesome (most of the restaurants and ice cream joints are closed during the winter months) and was exactly what we needed for the return ride.  During the return we were subject to a few sprinkles turning into a serious down pour while we loaded up making us very thankful for the awning on the UAV. 
One of the only limiting factors we face camping out of the van is the lack of shower on board.  So after a solid day of riding we decided to look for a place to get cleaned up.  Luckily we called Husky Haven Campground who had showers for rent.  The facility catered to Appalachian Trail hikers and GAP riders/hikers.  They have very nice shower facilities, a bike cleaning/maintenance area and an Internet café. 
This trail has many more miles for us to explore with the real possibility of linking it with the C&O trail for an epic gravel grinder trip.