20 of the finest bike routes in the United States, including this 95-mile route through Alabama and Georgia

20 of the finest bike routes in the United States, including this 95-mile route through Alabama and  ...

Many people who ended up in place were told early in the epidemic that biking was more than just exercise. It was a recovery mechanism and a safe way to interact with others. It was freedom. And it was engaging.

After a national spike of people discovering a new trail network, many trails across the country experienced record trail usage. Many bike shops were experiencing significant demand, followed by a sluggish supply, as manufacturers across the country struggled to keep factories and shipping operations going.

While e-bike technology is rapidly improving, bike shops are slowly expanding, making battery-powered, pedal-assist bikes more accessible, safer, and easier to operate. That increase has resulted in an increase in trail usage.

This increase in interest in "destination trails" routes cyclists will travel across the country or for a chance to ride for a day or a while, and to experience and appreciate America in a different way.

Despite the epidemic, there was a national push to build and connect more trails. The Empire State Trail in New York, a 750-mile highway route, was completed in December 2020. Some trails are particularly popular in new railroad beds, which communities believe to be relatively inexpensive opportunities to increase recreational access and increase local tourism.

These rails-to-trails, as they are known, feature gentle grades of usually no more than 2%, and surface surfaces that often are paved or finely crushed limestone, thus they are family friendly and keep people off busy roads. Several rail-to-trails include stunning views, long tunnels through mountains and small towns along the way that commemorate their rail history as well as bikers and hikers.

Several states are closing the gaps between rail-trails, connecting urban centers with rural areas, breathtaking vistas, and remote beauty. According to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, there are more than 2,100 rail-trails across 12 states from Washington to Washington, D.C., connecting many of the three routes already in existence or being constructed. About 2,000 miles of the 3,700-mile Great American Rail-Trail are in place, with 88 gaps remaining.

As spring approaches, we constructed an unofficial skimish of some of the most popular destination-worthy rail-trails and similar routes, retracing the conservancy's trail Hall of Fame, personal experience, and the advice of members of a popular rails-to-trails.

The Banks-Vernonia State Trail, a 22-mile rails-to-trails initiative, was completed in 2010 in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.Hannah Leone/The Oregonian

Oregon, Banks-Vernonia State Trail

One of the Northwest's first rail-trails is also one to keep an eye on, as plans require it to connect to the expanding Salmonberry Trail, which will eventually connect the Willamette Valley to the Pacific Coast. The 22-mile Banks-Vernonia, which features a 735-foot Buxton Trestle, as well as beautiful coastal forests and pastoral farmland.

California's Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail

The 25-mile Bizz is a great way to learn more about the remote and rugged Susan River Canyon. It crosses the Susan River 12 times, so there are plenty of opportunities to cool off and fish, too. California is not often thought of in terms of fall foliage, but the Bizz is especially beautiful in the fall, and the Bureau of Land Management offers a shuttle ride.

On the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Pennsylvania, Tim Warsinskey, an advance local, has a spectacular photoshoot of the Allegheny Mountains near the Eastern Continental Divide.

Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are all covered in the C&O Canal towpath and Great Allegheny Passage.

These two distinct routes that connect Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh, provide a sense of transition from Washington to Cumberland, although they are quite popular among bike campers. However, the 184-mile C&Os trail surface is not as well maintained as some others, although the chance to follow the same routes as early settlers and Civil War soldiers, and traverse long tunnels is a rewarding experience.

The GAP Trail, which is dotted with welcoming trail towns, is a fairly smooth climb to (or descent) the 2,392-foot Eastern Continental Divide, as well as the nearby Mason-Dixon Line. The trail's entrance is the riverfront town of Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, which offers a state park and whitewater rafting, and the nearby Two historic Frank Lloyd Wright homes. The region's steel history is on display as you head toward Pittsburgh and Washington, along the corridor. Website:

Wisconsin: Elroy-Sparta State Trail

The iconic 33-miler is a multibillion-dollar road development in a state known for its enthusiastic desire for biking. Sparta declares itself as the "Bicycling Capital of America" and promotes tourism. The website:

The Empire State Trail was completed in December 2020. Empiretrail.gov mapScreenshot from empiretrail.ny.gov | nyup.com

New York's Empire State Trail

The T-shaped trail network between Buffalo and Albany is stretching from the Canadian border to Manhattan, with dedicated hike & bike trails and a trail alongside the Erie Canalway, although numerous on-road roads remain, according to a New York Times report. Much of the Empire State is bordered with rails-to-trails, and a dedicated hike & bike trail is linked to the area, but numerous obstacles remain, particularly north of Albany. By contrast, the rocky and scenic Erie Canalway and Mohawk River

South Dakota's George S. Mickelson Trail

There's a wow moment around almost every bend. Some users describe the Mickelson as the best way to view the Black Hills. To say nothing, the 109-mile trail is divided into 15 trailheads, with 100 dedicated railroad bridges. Most of the crushed limestone path has a rating of less than 4%, but there are also several strenuous sections. Trolley rides are available for those with physical limitations in the summer.

West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail

On the Greenbrier, the 78-mile rail-trail has 35 bridges and runs through some of the state's most remote and beautiful areas. Part of the ride is in a National Radio Quiet Zone, which makes no phone contact. Watoga State Park offers more recreational activities, cabins, and camping. Website:

41 blue-lit steel frames are positioned to simulate the view through a mine shaft on the High Trestle Trail Bridge across the Des Moines River. Iowa National Heritage Foundation photo

Iowa's High Trestle Trail

The High Trestle, located 25 miles long in Central Iowa, crosses five towns and four counties and is renowned for its iconic, 13-story high bridge across the Des Moines River. Especially stunning at night, 41 blue-lit steel frames are positioned along the bridge to simulate the view through a mine shaft, a nod to the region's mining history. Website:.

Michigan's Iron Ore Heritage Trail

Michigan has an embarrassment of riches 2,500 miles of rail-trails making it difficult to highlight one or two of its features, yet the unique Iron Ore is among the most beautiful and fascinating. It is located 47 miles across the Marquette Iron Range and hugs Lake Superior.

Missouri's Katy Trail State Park

The family-friendly Katy is among the most popular hiking routes due to its variety, accessibility, and length. A Missouri state park, it is billed as the nation's longest developed rail-trail, mostly of which follows Lewis and Clark's route up the Missouri River in a section known for its towering bluffs. It also connects to the 47-mile Rock Island Trail at Windsor, Missouri.

Ohio to the Erie Trail northbound riders will take the route to the Amish area on a beautiful but long incline. Tim Warsinskey, Advance Local

Ohio to Erie Trail

The Little Miami Scenic Trail out of Cincinnati, the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath out of Cleveland, and the Kokosing Gap Trail in Central Ohio are all part of the OTET's incredible charm. However, most cyclists take between four and nine days to complete it. There are plenty of historic sites, public art, and eateries on the trail, such as Xenia, Massillon, and Akron. A section of the Little Miami Scenic Trail will be closed this year for a

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The Pere Marquette Rail Trail, as seen near Sanford, Michigan, is known for its wide, smooth surface. THE SAGINAW NEWS

Michigan-Pere Marquette Rail-Trail

This 30-mile course in Mid-Michigan between Midland and Clare takes on a 120-year-old railroad route but has a modern feel, with a massive (14 feet) and smooth asphalt surface that is ideal for groups. It includes everything from forests, farms, small towns, golf courses, and canoe liveries, and is especially popular when fall foliage peak.

Washington, Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail

In a 2.3-mile-long unlit tunnel, the 285-mile journey from Idaho to within 35 miles of Seattle crosses the Cascade Mountains. This trail has something for everyone, including fun day sections and long-route challenges. Some sections require permits and others are not connected or well marked. However, a research and planned adventure is worthwhile.

Pennsylvania's Pine Creek Trail

This stunning 65-mile path crosses through the aptly named "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" in the Tioga and Tiadaghton State Forests, where it follows an abandoned trail line along an ancient Native American path with swimming holes, waterfall views, and abundant wildlife. It's one of the "best kept secrets" you'll be telling everyone about. Website:

Georgia and Alabama's Silver Comet Trail/Chief Ladiga Trail

This sweeping 95-mile corridor through rolling hills, mountain views, and areas large and small, this combined trail between Anniston, Alabama, and the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna, Georgia, is establishing a number of the country's longest and most popular paved trails, attracting short- and long-mileages riders. The scenery is constantly changing. The Amtrak station in Anniston will enable people to take a train part or all the way to Atlanta and bike back.

Louisiana's Tammany Trace

On Lake Pontchartrain, this is a meandering, 31-mile paved trail that should be discovered and savored, along wetlands, streams, and loblolly pines. Website:

Idaho's Hiawatha Trail offers a gentle, family-centric 15-mile descent along the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, spanning seven sky-high trestles. Idaho Tourism Photo

Idaho's Coeur d'Alenes Trail and Hiawatha Trail

Some people in the country are considering the Coeur d'Alenes as a quiet route, which includes 20 scenic waysides and dozens of advanced trailheads. The Hiawatha is also popular among in-line skaters, Nordic skiers, and snowshoers. A shuttle to the top and bike rentals are available for a gentle, family-centered 15-mile descent along the crest of the Bitterroot Mountains, as well as seven sky-high obstacles.

Vermont's Island Line Trail

A unique, 13-mile trail overlooking Lake Champlain features a causeway that includes a bike ferry over a 200-foot cut for boat traffic. There are a variety of beaches and, especially in the fall, colourful vistas.

A stream outside Damascus, Virginia, from one of the dozens of trestles along the 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail. It's 17 miles from Whitetop Mountain to Alvarado, a popular downhill route with stone dust and gravel trails that are suitable for anyone who wants to bike.

Virginia's Creeper National Recreation Trail

It's not just downhill, but if you reach Whitetop Station (3,500 feet elevation) and head to Alvarado (1,750), then you'll reach Abingdon (2,050) in Southwest Virginia. Either way, it's worthwhile. Website:

Florida's Withlacoochee State Trail

It is one of Florida's longest paved trails, which leads to the Withlacoochee River and traverses the Withlacoochee State Forest, several small towns, ranches, and six distinct natural areas. A lot of nearby places to rent bikes is also available.

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