More than 1,400 unused railways traverse the plains, mountains, coastlines, and cities of the United States, according to Abandoned Rails. Some once carried cargo and coal, others shuttled workers to job sites and dreamers towards their visions of gold and glory in the wild west. By the early 1900s, more than a quarter-million miles of active rail stretched across the country. Now, groups of visionary minds led by the Rails to Trails Conservancy are repurposing some of these abandoned railways as biking and hiking trails. These “rail trails” are achieving notoriety. By 2021, every US state has rail trails, with more than 2,000 miles of them currently available for public use. These are our seven favorite rail trails.
For more information on trails designed from former rail lines visit the Rails to Trails Conservancy, a non-profit group working to repurpose out-of-use public spaces into trail systems.