Author Topic: Definitive rail to trail map  (Read 2081 times)

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Offline Mark Manley

Definitive rail to trail map
« on: February 15, 2019, 09:12:04 pm »
Is there such a thing as a definitive rail to trail map for the whole of the US? I am planning a route from Washington DC to Washington state using trails where possible and have found the railstotrails.org site very useful but get the impression that there are a lot more through the northern states not shown on this site.

Online jamawani

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2019, 10:03:14 pm »
Mark -

You can use websites like RideWithGPS (ridewithgps.com) and click on the "Bike Paths" box in the upper right corner.
They only show up when you are moderately zoomed in - about state level - but you can pan.

A word of caution - - All bike trails are not created equal.
The "Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes" in Idaho is a paved wonder.
Parts of the "Cowboy Trail" in Nebraska are golf course sandtraps.

I presume you are looking at the C&O Canal Trail out of DC.
Be aware that it can be muddy and almost impassable after heavy rains.
Also, the Paw Paw Tunnel has been under reconstruction - requiring a killer trail detour over the mountain.

Which is one problem with almost all trails - Conditions are unpredictable and often unposted.
Those of us who have cycled 8 or 10 miles only to find a bridge out are skeptical of trails.
The better trails with updated websites are more reliable in this area.

On the western end, the legal status of the John Wayne/Iron Horse Trail in eastern Washington is up in the air.
More importantly, it is chunky, unrideable railroad ballast - and the Beverly Bridge is sealed off.

<<<>>>

That said, there are very nice, empty back roads in many areas that surpass the nearby iffy trails.

I would consider the following trails:

MD - C&O Canal Trail - if dry
PA - Great Allegheny Passage
       Montour Trail - south bypass of Pitt
WV - Panhandle Trail - tricky crossing of Ohio River
IN - Oak Savannah Trail
IL - Old Plank Road Trail
      Illinois & Michigan Canal Trail
IA - Quad Cities Riverfront
      High Trestle Trail
      Raccoon River Trail
      Sauk Rail Trail
NE - Cowboy Trail - esp Niobrara Trestle
SD - Mickelson Trail - classic Black Hills ride
ID - Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes
WA - Iron Horse Trail - west of Ellensburg

<<<>>>

There are excellent segments of the old historic Lincoln Highway across Ohio and Indiana.

Best - J


Offline Mark Manley

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2019, 11:27:50 pm »
Thank you for your reply, that looks like a very useful resource. It is a similar situation here in the UK where the surface of the canal towpaths and bridleways I like to ride can vary greatly and I have found myself pushing and even carrying my bike on a few occasions. I expect it will be 2020 before I can do this trip, other plans for this year and I am sure things will change before then.

Offline ggwbikemt

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2019, 08:10:39 am »
One place to view a map of all trails for the US is https://www.traillink.com/viewnationalmap/


Offline TCS

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2019, 02:06:56 pm »
Mark the OP:

I bet you're familiar with:
https://www.easternexpressroute.com/

Perhaps for a 'western express' you're already eyeing hopping off the western end of the MoPac near Kansas City, picking up the Wabash across western Iowa into Omaha, taking the Cowboy west, riding to the southern end of the Mickelson, making the long jump to the Bitterroot into Missoula, stopping by the Adventure Cycling offices, picking up the Route of Olympia  and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, then picking a path-route across Washington state.  Sounds très fun!


That said, there are very nice, empty back roads in many areas that surpass the nearby iffy trails.

Yep!  There's a beautiful thatch of tiny country lanes in the USA.  However, they're not part of any system and there's no organization or website that promotes them.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline Mark Manley

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2019, 10:19:30 pm »
Thank you to everyone who has replied, there is plenty to keep me busy for a while.

Offline quadeddie

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2019, 03:52:40 am »
The "Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes" in Idaho is a paved wonder.

They say this is asphalt.  Is it smooth enough for a road bike or would you need a Mtn/Hybrid bike for this?  This is an interesting trail that is in my area that I'd like to plan to hit if I could use my existing road bike.

Offline jsieber

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2019, 02:33:33 pm »
The "Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes" in Idaho is a paved wonder.

They say this is asphalt.  Is it smooth enough for a road bike or would you need a Mtn/Hybrid bike for this?  This is an interesting trail that is in my area that I'd like to plan to hit if I could use my existing road bike.

You could definitely ride a road bike on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2019, 01:18:53 pm »
The "Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes" in Idaho is a paved wonder.

They say this is asphalt.  Is it smooth enough for a road bike or would you need a Mtn/Hybrid bike for this?  This is an interesting trail that is in my area that I'd like to plan to hit if I could use my existing road bike.

They are correct. I did about 8 miles of it a few years ago. Eastern end to Wallace, ID. Not very interesting and close to I-90. From what I have heard, the farther west you go the more interesting it gets. Definitely doable on a road bike.

Offline quadeddie

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2019, 02:37:33 pm »
They are correct. I did about 8 miles of it a few years ago. Eastern end to Wallace, ID. Not very interesting and close to I-90. From what I have heard, the farther west you go the more interesting it gets. Definitely doable on a road bike.

You could definitely ride a road bike on the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.

Thanks for the replies!  I'm a little on the insane side and I'll probably plan to ride the whole thing in a day (I did STP and a 24 hour ride last year).

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Definitive rail to trail map
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2019, 09:25:29 am »
Interestingly, I just got an email from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy asking for permission to use one of my photos from the NorPac Trail in an upcoming article about a developing cross country rail-trail. The article is slated to run in the spring/summer edition of their magazine.