Live celebration for Great American Rail-Trail is Wednesday
Rails to Trails Conservancy is promoting a live event this Wednesday to reveal the preferred route for the Great American Rail-Trail — an off-road trail route that will stretch 3,700 miles from Washington DC to Washington state and fulfill the dream for off-road bicycle travelers.
The route, which is more than 50% complete, uses existing rail-trails to cross 12 states on its journey. In all, there are some 23,000 miles of rail-trails completed in the US.
Here in Washington state, the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail (formerly the John Wayne Pioneer Trail) is one of the major trails included in the project. Regional trails in King County are being considered as part of the Great American Rail-Trail.
Wednesday’s live event will highlight major areas along the Great American Rail-Trail, such as the old Milwaukee Road railroad yard in South Cle Elum. Events will be broadcast live from 1-2 p.m. EDT Wednesday at RTC’s Facebook page and GreatAmericanRailTrail.org.
Here in Washington, the event is jointly organized by RTC, State Parks, Palouse to Cascades Trail Coalition and Cascade Rail Foundation. It begins at 10:30 a.m. (doors open at 10 a.m.) on May 8, in the South Cle Elum Rail Yard National Historic District, 801 Milwaukee Ave, South Cle Elum (Map).
Other celebrations will be broadcast from trail locations on the Capital Crescent Trail (Washington, DC); Ohio to Erie Trail (Columbus, OH); and Headwaters Trail System (Three Forks, MT).
An off-road cross-country route is a dream of many bicycle travelers. While Adventure Cycling Association has its TransAmerica Trail and the developing US Bicycle Route System, the Great American Rail-Trail would be unique in that it is mostly off-road.
Heading west to east, the major trails along the route are:
- Palouse to Cascades Rail Trail (Washington)
- Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes (Idaho)
- Headwaters Trail System (Montana)
- Casper Rail Trail (Wyoming)
- Cowboy Recreational and Nature Trail (Nebraska)
- Cedar Valley Nature Trail (Iowa)
- Hennepin Canal Parkway (Illinois)
- Cardinal Greenway (Indiana)
- Ohio to Erie Trail (Ohio)
- Panhandle Trail (West Virginia and Pennsylvania)
- Chesapake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park (Maryland and Washington DC)
- Capital Crescent Trail (Maryland and Washington DC)
Further work by Rails to Trails Conservancy and local agencies will require connecting these major trails.