America has been using railroads since the 1840s and while America still boasts thousands of miles of rail, many of the pathways once took by train are now defunct. The railways often abandon old track and those tracks revert to the local government or state once it has been officially abandoned. The ground is already flat and it usually goes somewhere. That’s why they make great trails.

Rails to Trails

That’s where Rails to Trails comes in. This organization specializes in working with Congress and other government mental entities to turn those old rail lines into walking and biking trails including a grand trail from coast to coast. As you can see in the map below, much of the trail is already completed with just a few sections needed to create a walking route from Washington state to Washington D.C.

Right now, Rails to Trails is working with the US Senate to include more funding for this project in two pieces of legislation to increase funding for active transportation throughout the country. The organization talks about the impact that it has on communities. America’s cities are notoriously unwalkable and often the surrounding areas aren’t much better trails help make these areas more walkable and connecting the trails together creates a safe pathway for people to get around without ever having to worry about a car. The health benefits are great as well. People can get out and move which leads to healthier and happier communities.

Rails to Trails isn’t just focusing on any particular kind of community either. Their case studies range from places like Ohio to California and everywhere in between. They have been doing this work since 1986 and their results have been prolific with 23,000 miles of trail already built and plans for much more.

With more than one million grassroots supporters, 23,000 miles of rail-trails on the ground nationwide and more than 8,000 miles of rail-trails ready to be built, our focus is on linking these corridors—creating trail networks that connect people and places, bringing transformative benefits to communities all across the country. 

Rails to Trails

More Walkable America

Americans are getting into cycling and walking again and having the infrastructure to do that easily is essential to keep this trend growing. Even in cities, more buildings boast bike storage for those that prefer that form of transportation over cars. Turning old railways into trails is a big part of that trend. Rails to Trails continues to work with Congress to get more biking infrastructure. Bike on!