Lonely Planet Writer

Stunning Instagram account showcases railway lines turned into nature trails

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

If you want to explore a car-free existence through the US, their Instagram is your beautiful visual place to start.