This article was originally published in the Rails to Trails magazine. It has been posted here in an edited format.
Imagine what’s possible with a trail that connects the country.
Imagine ... pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway—or walking a local trail that connects along historic routes. That vision will become a reality thanks to the Great American Rail-Trail, a signature project of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) and the organization’s most ambitious TrailNation™ project yet.
The possibility of a coast-to-coast rail-trail has been known for decades as RTC tracked rail- trails being developed east to west along the same course charted by the railroad a century ago. RTC’s late co-founder David Burwell once hoped that “one day, you could go across this entire country … on flat, wide, off-road paths. I want rail-trails to be ‘America’s Main Street.’” Now, that dream—and the potential of the Great American Rail-Trail—is ready to be realized.
The route is more than 50 percent complete—the milestone RTC has long-identified as the threshold for committing to making this trail a reality. Separated from vehicle traffic, travelers will be able to truly enjoy, embrace and experience those amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesties that make up the American landscape from Washington, D.C., to Washington State