The single greatest trail project in US history — the 6,400-km-long Great American Rail-Trail — has been announced
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy has announced the longest cycle route in US history — covering 6,400 km (4,000 miles). The new trail will cross 12 US states and the District of Columbia. The RTC will reveal the complete route plan in the spring.
The Great American Rail-Trail will connect rail-trails, greenways and other pathways. The goal of creating the new route is to connect communities and bring untold benefits to all who meet the trail.
“RTC is ready to lead the effort to connect the trail across communities, counties and state lines to create a seamless off-road biking and walking journey for the country,” said RTC president Keith Laughlin.
The new route would not be possible without the iconic trails existing in every state along its course.
According to the RTC website, more than 50 per cent of the route is now complete. The plan is to finish it within a few years’ time.
“With open trails comprising more than 50 per cent of the potential route, combined with strong local and state enthusiasm, we are now confident that the Great American Rail-Trail can be completed,” said Laughlin.
“At RTC, we’ve known the potential of a coast-to-coast rail-trail for decades”
The RTC was founded in 1986. It saw its humble beginnings with only a few rail-trails dotting the US landscape.
Nowadays, over 37,000 km (23,000 miles) of rail-trails run throughout the country. Another 13,000 km (8,000 miles) are ready to be built.
The possibility of such a route has been in the planning for decades. The RTC has been tracking rail-trails that are being developed east to west along the same course charted by the railroad a century ago.
The RTC announced its plans for the route after 18 months of analysing existing trail routes in the US.
Numerous discussions with state agencies and local trail managers confirm that the Great American Rail-Trail is a realistic pursuit.