Picture yourself pedaling across the entire country on a safe, seamless and scenic pathway—or walking a local trail that connects along historic routes. Imagine the incomparable experience of exploring America’s heritage by trail—its potential, its beauty and bounty, its people and places. Consider the economic opportunities and the benefits for communities along the route of a multi-use bike trail that stretches more than 3,700 miles between Washington and Washington.
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The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike path that will connect Washington state to Washington, D.C., is now over 50% complete.
The trail is being planned by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit that is working with local governments to make the dream a reality. A recent 12-month assessment of route options identified 90 gaps between 125 current trails that need to be filled for the dream to become a reality. It’s believed it should take about two decades for the complete path to become a reality.
The rail-trail is made possible by a law passed in 1983 that allows companies with abandoned rail lines to turn them into trails until the lines are needed again. Lines that are railbanked can reopen within a year’s time, whereas completely abandoned lines may take years to begin re-operation.
The trail will directly serve nearly 50 million people within 50 miles of the route. It will be separated from vehicle traffic and will traverse 12 states from the Pacific to the Atlantic.