10 Old Rail Trails Repurposed for Biking | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Scenic rail trails offer a unique biking experience.
  • These paths are steeped in history and natural surroundings.
  • They provide an engaging outdoor activity for all levels.

Biking on a scenic trail is like pedaling through history.

Ever wanted to go on a biking adventure that combines history, scenery, and a killer workout?

These repurposed rail trails are your ticket.

Old railways across the country have been transformed into bike-friendly paths, offering a unique way to explore the great outdoors.

You can trust the journey will be as captivating as the destinations since these trails are steeped in rich American history and natural beauty.



Katy Trail State Park, Missouri

Have you ever fancied taking a journey down an old rail trail, where trains once chugged along?

Let's talk about the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, a true gem for biking enthusiasts like you!

Imagine pedaling along a path that's a whopping 240 miles long—that's basically a cross-state adventure waiting to happen!

The Katy Trail is the former home of the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, affectionately known as the MKT or Katy.

Today, it's a scenic trail that'll lead you through some of Missouri's most charming landscapes.

What's in store for you on the Katy Trail?

  • Views for days: You'll be treated to stunning glimpses of the Missouri River. Don't forget your camera!
  • 26 trailheads: Yes, you read that right. There are twenty-six spots for you to hop on or take a break.
  • Four restored depots: These historical treasures are sprinkled along the route, a nod to the trail's railway past.

Riding along, you'll notice the trail is fairly level, thanks to its railroad heritage.

The inclines are gentle, making it suitable for a range of cyclists, whether you're on a hybrid, road, or mountain bike.

Looking to climb a bit?

The western end offers around 1,000 feet of elevation over 50 miles, giving those legs a bit more of a workout.

Now, planning is a breeze with plenty of parking and access points detailed on maps and guides—so no worries about where to start your ride.

Plus, it's not just for biking!

The trail is open to hikers and, in some sections, even horseback riders.

Planning to make it a multi-day adventure?

There's space for campers and bikepackers to rest under the Missouri sky.

So, ready to wheel down the longest rail-trail in the country?

Grab your bike and get set for the ride of a lifetime on the legendary Katy Trail State Park!

Great Allegheny Passage, Pennsylvania to Maryland

Fancy a ride through history?

Picture yourself pedaling along the scenic Great Allegheny Passage, a trail that stretches 150 miles connecting Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cumberland, Maryland.

This isn't just any path; it's a journey on the repurposed beds of the Western Maryland Railway and the Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad.

Imagine – no cars, just the beauty of southwestern Pennsylvania and western Maryland.

Your adventure starts in the bustling streets of Pittsburgh, sweeps through the Laurel Highlands, and ends in the quaint historic town of Cumberland.

About 130 miles of this trail is nestled in Pennsylvania, offering an immersive experience of the region's natural beauty – all on two wheels!

Trail Details:

  • Length: 150 miles
  • Surface: Mostly crushed limestone
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate, with a gentle grade

Benefits of Biking the GAP:

  • Accessibility: Suitable for all levels of cyclists
  • Scenery: Sweeping views and lush landscapes
  • Connectivity: Links to the C&O Canal Towpath reaching Washington D.C.

Whether you're an avid cyclist or a casual rider looking for a weekend jaunt, the GAP caters to all.

The trail's surface, mainly crushed limestone, is gentle on the tires, making for a smoother ride.

The overall grade doesn't exceed 1.5%, perfect for those leisurely rides where you can soak in the endless vistas without breaking too much of a sweat.

Not just a trail, it's a rolling travelogue of America's industrial heritage.

Don't miss this chance to see the landscape transform from urban expanses to serene riverbanks, all while traveling along historical rail lines.

Who knew biking could also be a time travel experience?

Grab your bike and experience this unique blend of nature and history along the Great Allegheny Passage!

Minuteman Bikeway, Massachusetts

Have you ever wanted to zip through history on two wheels?

The Minuteman Bikeway might just be your time machine!

Stretching around 10 miles, it connects Bedford to Cambridge, right where the former Boston and Maine Railroad used to run.

What could be cooler than cycling the same path where, back in 1775, Paul Revere made his legendary ride?

Starting Points:

  • Bedford: Begin your ride enveloped in the serenity of trees and open spaces.
  • Cambridge: Dive into the trail amid the buzz of urban life, where it intersects with Red Line's Alewife station.

Key Stops Along the Way:

  • Lexington and Arlington: These towns offer a quaint peek into the region's history and present-day charm.

This bikeway isn't just for avid cyclists.

Whether you’re on a leisurely walk, jogging, or rolling through on skates, this path is a shared treasure.

Each year, visitors and local residents alike embrace the unique blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

Getting here is a breeze, with parking available at both trail ends.

Plus, spots like 25 Drake Rd in Arlington ensure you can join in anywhere you please.

Since 1993, when the trail opened, to its Hall of Fame induction in 2008, this rail-trail has been a beloved resource.

So, why ride the Minuteman Bikeway?

  • Historical Journey: Follow the echoes of a revolutionary past.
  • Natural Settings: Cherish the views of suburban scenes shifting to natural landscapes.
  • Community Asset: Embrace a trail cherished by both locals and tourists.

And hey, don't forget to keep an eye out for the regional sites highlighted along the route.

They're not just markers; they're mileposts of our history.

Ready to create your own revolutionary story on the Minuteman Bikeway?

High Line Canal Trail, Colorado

Ever dreamt of biking along a piece of history?

Guess what, you can do exactly that on the High Line Canal Trail in Colorado.

This isn't your ordinary path; it's a 71-mile grand adventure, twisting through Denver's urban landscapes and tranquil natural areas.

How cool is it to ride where water once flowed to nourish bygone farms!

So, what's the scoop on this trail?

It's got some incredible segments – 27 to be exact – and each offers its own unique experience.

Whether you're on two wheels, horseback, or your own two feet, this trail doesn't discriminate.

And, if you're wondering about the terrain, it's a friendly one for all levels, with most folks billing it as moderately challenging.

  • Length: 71 miles
  • Use: Biking, hiking, birding, running
  • Trail Type: Point-to-point
  • Terrain: Mixed urban and natural
  • Accessibility: Walkable, equestrian-friendly, bike-friendly
  • Segments: 27 detailed parts

Imagine pedaling past old cottonwoods, hearing birds chirp, with the sun casting dappled shadows on your path.

Not to mention, the 71 miles means you could literally spend days exploring every nook and cranny of this long, linear park.

No kidding, it's a water-and-tear-resistant slice of heaven stretching from the foothills in Littleton to the plains of Aurora.

Planning to clock an average ride time?

Pull on your helmet, it might take around 15 hours from end to end.

But hey, why rush?

There’s plenty of solitude to enjoy amidst the bustle of the city, especially during those sweet spots of the day when you have the trail mostly to yourself.

Remember, this isn't just about getting in miles; it's about exploring a landmark of Colorado's agricultural past, repurposed for your biking pleasure.

So grab your map, hydrate, and cycle your way through history on the High Line Canal Trail – where each pedal stroke is a story in the making.

Heritage Rail Trail County Park, Pennsylvania

Ever wanted to bike along a piece of history?

At the Heritage Rail Trail County Park in Pennsylvania, you can do just that!

Follow the path where trains once chugged along the Northern Central Railway, now repurposed for your biking pleasure.

Quick Facts:

  • Length: 21 miles
  • Location: Runs from York, PA to the Maryland border
  • Connects: To the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail

What Can You Expect?

  • A seamless ride from York straight to the Mason-Dixon line, with landscapes that change as you pedal forward.
  • Diverse sights: From urban cityscapes to verdant fields, this trail offers variety.

Here's a rundown of the must-knows before you head out:

  • Open: Year-round, 8:00 AM until dusk
  • Parking: Check out spots like the Railroad Parking Lot at 5 East Main Street for easy access.
  • Activities: Biking, horseback riding, and even a leisurely walk to admire the autumn foliage.

And get this, history buffs will love the Howard Tunnel – it's like a time machine on two wheels!

Ready for a challenge?

Why not ride the full stretch and connect to Maryland’s trail for an epic 41-mile adventure?

So, tighten those helmet straps and oil that bike chain.

Your next outdoor escapade awaits on the Heritage Rail Trail County Park, where every mile tells a story—your story.

Silver Comet Trail, Georgia

Have you ever imagined pedaling through history?

On the Silver Comet Trail, you can do just that!

This gem was once a bustling railway line but now it's one of Georgia's most beloved biking paths.

Let's look at the specs:

  • Starting Point: Smyrna, GA (just outside Atlanta)
  • Finishing Line: The Georgia/Alabama state line
  • Distance: 61.5 miles (Connects with Chief Ladiga Trail for more adventure!)

This scenic route isn't just a treat for the eyes; it's got some serious bragging rights, too:

  • One of the longest paved trails across the country (When you tack on Alabama’s Chief Ladiga Trail, that's a whopping 94 miles!)
  • Rail-trail royalty - It's part of an amazing transformation from railroad to biking bliss.

As you ride, you'll breeze past trees that whisper stories of old trains and dodge sunlight that flickers through the leaves like Morse code.

What to expect?

  • Freedom: Cars? What cars? This trail is non-motorized bliss.
  • Variety: Whether you're cycling, walking, or on horseback, there's a spot on the path just for you.
  • Accessibility: Most of the trail rolls out the red carpet for wheelchairs, so everyone's invited!

Don’t forget to take a selfie at the original mile marker "0" as you kick off from Mavell Road Trailhead.

It's not just any spot; it's the start of a 65.35-mile journey—c'mon, that deserves to be in your social media feed, right?

Oh, and here's a pro tip: Pack plenty of water and a snack.

There are stretches of pure, unadulterated nature, which means amenities can be sparse.

But honestly, that’s just part of the charm.

So, ready to strap on your helmet and follow the tracks of history on the Silver Comet Trail?

Trust us, it's the kind of ride that can make any weekend feel like an epic tale on wheels!

Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Wisconsin

Have you heard about a trail that paved the way for others, quite literally?

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail in Wisconsin is not just any path; it's a historical adventure waiting for you to bike, hike, or even snowmobile!

It's actually the very first in the nation’s rails-to-trails movement.

Let's dive into what makes this trail a must-visit for outdoor enthusiasts like you!

Spanning 32.5 miles, this trail is where you can enjoy the beauty of Wisconsin's countryside, and you'll be following the tracks of the former Chicago and North Western Railway.

Isn't it amazing to ride where trains once chugged along?

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Tunnels: Yes, tunnels! Not one, not two, but three historic tunnels are there for you to discover. These aren't your run-of-the-mill tunnels; they're carved through solid rock, providing a cool respite on a sunny day.
  • Scenery: Picture this — lush greenery, wildflowers, and the occasional wildlife sighting. Sounds like a breath of fresh air, doesn't it?

Now, suppose you're wondering about practical stuff.

In that case, parking is available at 111 Milwaukee Street in Sparta and State Route 82 in Elroy, with multiple options in between.

Just remember, if you're 16 or over and biking, a State Trail Pass is required, priced at $25 annually or $5 daily.

This little ticket supports trail maintenance and ensures it stays beautiful for years to come.

So, fancy a ride through history with a twist of nature?

The Elroy-Sparta State Trail awaits!

Just grab your bike (or hiking boots) and make memories on this pioneer of rail-trails.

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, Idaho

Have you ever imagined biking where trains once chugged along through the heart of Idaho?

On the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, you can pedal through the same historic corridors where the Union Pacific Railroad once ran.

This isn't just any trail—it's a whopping 73 miles of beautifully paved path that's perfect for a variety of outdoor activities.

Imagine this: asphalt under your tires, a gentle breeze on your face, and a kaleidoscope of nature's beauty all around.

Yes, it's that picturesque!

The trail carves its route through stunning landscapes, including the breathtaking Coeur d'Alene River and the enchanting mountains of Northern Idaho.

Whether you're a seasoned cyclist or just looking for a leisurely roll, this trail is your go-to spot.

  • Who's it for? Everyone! Cyclists, in-line skaters, walkers, and wheelchair users will find this trail inviting.
  • What can I see? You'll get up-close views of lakes, rivers, and mountains that'll have you stopping for photos every mile.
  • Need to know: It used to be a railroad track, that's why it’s so smooth and flat—perfect for road bikes and even Nordic skiers in the winter.

Why just stick to the beaten path when you can glide along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes with ease and accessibility?

Just stay on the trail as many miles of private land hug its borders, showing respect for the landowner's privacy.

Ready for an adventure that's literally on-track?

Strap on your helmet, grab your water bottle, and get ready to make some memories on this historical trail turned recreational haven.

See you out there!

Greenbrier River Trail, West Virginia

Ever dreamt of a biking adventure along a serene riverbank with history surrounding you?

Well, Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia is just that!

Imagine pedaling along 77 miles of beautiful landscapes where the echoes of old trains seem to blend with the whispers of the Greenbrier River.

You might ask, "What's so special about this trail?" Here's the scoop:

  • Length: 77 miles
  • Path: Former Chesapeake & Ohio Railway
  • Scenery: Runs along the peaceful Greenbrier River
  • Towns: Trail weaves through quaint towns
  • Bridges: Cross a whopping 35 bridges
  • Tunnels: Glide through 2 cool tunnels
  • Terrain: Mostly flat with crushed stone surface
  • Activities: Hiking, biking, horseback riding

This gem is a part of West Virginia history, once a bustling railroad now transformed into the longest trail of its type in the state.

Fancy a bit of exploration?

The trail is dotted with small towns that whisper tales of yesteryear.

And while we're at it, imagine crossing 35 bridges; each one is a selfie opportunity, don't you think?

Oh, and let's not forget the two tunnels – a dramatic change of scenery with a side of adventure.

Gear up for a ride that's suitable for all skill levels.

The crushed stone surface makes for a smooth ride so that you can focus on the surrounding beauty.

Whether you're looking to hike, bike, or ride horseback, the Greenbrier River Trail accommodates with a smile.

So, pack your water bottle, prep your bike, and get ready to embark on a journey that's not just about the destination, but the lush, historical path that takes you there.

Who knew traveling the tracks of the past could be such a breath of fresh air?

Illinois Prairie Path, Illinois

Ever pedaled along a piece of history?

Well, the Illinois Prairie Path lets you do just that!

This gem weaves through Cook, DuPage and Kane Counties over a sprawling 61 miles.

It's perfect for when you want to swap honking cars for chirping birds.

Originally the Chicago Aurora & Elgin electric railroad, this pioneer trail started the whole rail-to-trail trend in the 1960s.

Here's what you can expect:

  • Mileage: 61 miles of opportunity.
  • Scenery: From verdant natural landscapes and patches of pristine prairie to cozy urban stretches.
  • Access Points: There's a convergence at 300 S Carlton Ave in Wheaton, making it a cinch to hop on.

Are you a fan of multitasking?

The path is a multi-use marvel, meaning you can run, bike, or even horseback ride!

You’ll join a diverse community of outdoor enthusiasts, all enjoying the trail's blend of city and serenity.

Thinking of bringing your kids or your fur babies?

It’s a resounding yes from the trail!

The relatively flat path is family-friendly and ready to roll.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • Branches: The Main Branch, the most urban corridor, extends for 16 miles.
  • Trailheads: Numerous, making it easy to start your journey.
  • Navigating: Follow the clear signs and well-marked paths.

So grab your bike or lace up your sneakers, and let the Illinois Prairie Path surprise you with its beauty and friendly charm - where every turn is a new adventure!