A long-time dream — a bike trail that stretched ocean to ocean across the U.S. — is starting to really take shape.
The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy on Thursday announced plans for the 3,700-mile route across the U.S., from Washington, D.C., to Washington State. The “Great American Rail-Trail” route (map) is already half complete, thanks to 1,900 miles of existing trails.
Rails-to-Trails will be working with state and local governments and other planning and business groups over the next “several decades” to fill the 1,700 miles of gaps, the organization said.
Much of the remaining gaps are in rural western states, including Wyoming and Montana.
“We know that it will take a significant investment of time, resources and energy to complete the Great American Rail-Trail — but it will be worth it,” Kevin Mills, RTC’s vice president of policy, said in a statement. “It will take the help of trail lovers and leaders to bring this vision to life.”
The trail will eventually pass through Pittsburgh, Columbus, Dayton, Cedar Rapids and Missoula before terminating in Seattle. The route was selected with input from local and state officials and trail advocates. But the map is still just the “preferred route” and may be subject to change as it takes further shape.
Rails-to-Trails expects the trail to be a tourism boon for small towns and cities located along its path.