Great American Rail-Trail


Grace Skaggs, Staff Writer

A railroad trail that has been known about since the mid 1980s is being turned into a different, scenic trail that you can either ride your bike or take a walk on. This trail stretches more than 3,700 miles between Washington, D.C. and Washington State. The difference between these rail-trails compared to other trails is that these paths are flat and gently sloping, making it easily accessible. These paths make it super easy to do many different activities. The preferred route of the trail connects about 125 existing rail-trails. More than 52 percent of the route is already on the ground, but it will take decades to finish the whole trail. Right now there are over 1,800 miles that are open for use. The route for this trail first began to develop in the early 1900s. The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy had to make sure of a couple of goals beforehand. They had to make sure that the trail would provide the highest quality experience for all types of people that are going to be using the trail. They wanted to provide a safe, non motorized trail that is entirely walkable and bikeable. They wanted it to be one continuous trail and not have several different ones. It will also be 80 percent separated from vehicle traffic when it is complete. Many communities along the trail have options for lodging for the people that use the trail. They have different options for lodging such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds. People who plan to take the path should make plans in advance and bring enough food and water. Since the trail has to be maintained, they have made a campaign and if it is successful it will add considerable money for states to invest in maintenance. The Great American Rail-Trail promises a new American experience, and it will serve nearly 50 million people that are within fifty miles of the route. 12 states, and the District of Columbia will call this trail home. When the route is finished it will go through Washington D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington.  For more information visit