New York’s High Line has been one of the most famous successes of urban design in many years. It brought two of the things that cities are most starved of back to its citizens – nature and communal space.
Thanks to Kansas Cyclist for this photo of bike touring on the Southwind Rail Trail in Eastern Kansas during a past #RTCOpeningDay. Trail info ➤ rtc.li/southwind-rail-trail-KS What trail will you visit on Opening Day 2016? #railtrail #railstotrails #southwindrailtrail #southwindtrail #kansastrails #getoutside #getoutdoors #getoutandexplore
So it’s no surprise that it spawned many copy-cat projects that saw cities and regions seek to take over old or disused railways for the sake of creating a trail.
Today, one of the largest completed sections of a developing network of trails known as the Grand History Trail is a pair of connected rail-trails—the Heritage Rail Trail County Park and the Torrey C. Brown Rail Trail—a 44-mile expanse of crushed stone across two states (Pennsylvania and Maryland). Together, these trails are the latest inductees into RTC’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. Get the scoop in our latest Trail of the Month on the TrailBlog. #railtrailhalloffame #railtrail #railtrails #railstotrails #PennsylvaniaTrails #BikePennsylvania #MarylandTrails #BikeMaryland #biketrail #bikingtrail #getoutside #getoutdoors #railroadhistory
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Sep 21, 2015 at 5:31am PDT
In the US the go-to group responsible for increasing the number of projects involving railway lines and nature trails is Rails-To-Trails, the Washington based non-profit that has created community trails from one coast to another in an effort to build public walking and cycling infrastructure.
Just 30 miles from Las Vegas, the gravel Historic Railroad Trail hugs the hills on the southern shoreline of vast Lake Mead. The rail-trail offers panoramic views of the man-made lake and snakes through five railroad tunnels on its way toward Hoover Dam. Trail info ➤ rtc.li/historic-railroad-trail Thanks to @travis.miller for the excellent photo! #railtrail #railstotrails #HistoricRailroadTrail #nevadatrails #discovernevada #explorenevada #getoutside #getoutdoors #getoutandexplore
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Mar 11, 2016 at 5:57am PST
The non-profit posts its news and images from some of its most beautiful trails onto its Instagram account.
The community-dependent project does important work in mapping old railway systems and researching the positive impact that beautiful public space affords communities by allowing them to socialise, travel, exercise, or simply be in nature for a short while.
Why do we love trails? Trails provide some epic scenery. From the top of the trestles on the Route of the Hiawatha (pictured below) to the ocean views along the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, some of America’s best vistas are on display via trail. Discover more ways we love trails: rtc.li/30-reasons-to-love-trails #Routeofthehiawatha #railtrail #railstotrails BikeIdaho #Getoutside #getoutdoors #getoutandexplore #trails
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Feb 24, 2016 at 5:52am PST
It also is responsible for continued efforts to coordinate the building and searching for potential trails.
Each month they run events for cyclists, joggers, and walkers to introduce new trails and place focus on old ones.
At 5,300 feet above sea level, Arizona’s 5.5-mile Peavine Trail offers cool breezes tempered by hot sunshine—an ideal place for trail trips in the late winter and spring! Trail info ➤ rtc.li/prescott-peavine-trail Thanks to @nearandfaraz for the photo! #railstotrails #railtrail #PeavineTrail #RailTrailHallofFame #ArizonaTrails #GetOutside #getoutdoors #getoutandexplore
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Jan 23, 2016 at 6:04am PST
May’s trail of the month is the Colorado Rio Grande trail, which crosses 42 miles and goes from Aspen to Glenwood Springs through a countryside of “sage brush and scrub oaks, richly scented forests of ponderosa and spruce, verdant crops and ranchlands ringed in jagged mountains and crystal clear rivers.”
Michigan’s Grand Haven Waterfront Trail is a scenic route from the shore of Lake Michigan inland along the Grand River. You’ll find shops and eateries, as well as plenty of boats, on the Grand River, as well as nice places to sit and enjoy the view from one of the landscaped parks. Trail info ➤ rtc.li/grand-haven-waterfront-trail #GrandHavenWaterfrontTrail #GrandHaven #GrandHavenMichigan #Michigan #PureMichigan #RailTrail #railstotrails #lighthouse #greatlakes #LakeMichigan
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Sep 26, 2015 at 5:01am PDT
Writing on their website Rails-To-Trails specify why their work is important to the communities they affect. “The incredible impact of trails is demonstrated in the way that they inspire movement and create myriad opportunities for development and revitalization—in the smallest neighborhoods and largest cities—while making it possible for people of all ages and abilities to safely get where they need to go—without relying on automobiles.”
Ready. Set… Go! Few long bicycle trails come any better than the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes. The paved trail covers 72 scenic miles through mountains and valleys in Idaho’s Panhandle. Trail info ➤ rtc.li/Trail-of-the-coeur-dalenes #railtrail #railstotrails #biking #biketrail #rideIdaho #BikeIdaho #IdahoTrails #exploreIdaho #DiscoverIdaho #Idaho #getoutside #getoutdoors #getoutandexplore
A photo posted by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (@railstotrails) on Nov 4, 2015 at 8:24am PST
If you want to explore a car-free existence through the US, their Instagram is your beautiful visual place to start.