Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Bicycling Rails-To-Trails in the U.S.

Last year I sat down with a map of the United States and realized that, despite all my traveling, I somehow missed six states. Who knew? And, looking at the map, I saw that they all fell down a vertical line that made a little sweep to the right at the base. The states are: North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. My idea was to do a different sort of trip to hit all of these: I would take a Greyhound bus from north to south and, in each state, bicycle a relatively long rail to trail.

But, because of miscommunication on the ground with the ND tourist board, I had to nix that state. And, there was no point in going out of my way to visit SD without also hitting the north. (North and South Dakota will have to wait until the winter when I cross country ski a rail-to-trail in both states.) That left four states. I just returned from this trip that was full of adventure, including almost being hit twice by lightning in Little Rock. Here is my pre-trip interview with the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy that is the not-for-profit advocacy group for converting old, abandoned railroad beds to pedestrian/bicycle lanes. My next post will be about some of the highlights from this journey.

29 comments:

Alexandra said...

Thanks for writing about this. I read the interview and found it fascinating. I love the idea of converting rails to bike trails. So clever!

JTravel said...

Hi Alexandra, It's amazing that there are these rails-to-trails all over the world. I biked a wonderful one not so far from Barcelona.

Sheryl said...

I love to bike but have not had any overseas (or out-of-state, for that matter) biking adventures, other than riding through Napa Valley - wonderful! Your trip sounds like a lot of fun. Any suggestions on how to find out about biking tours?

JTravel said...

Hi Sheryl, This group, Adventure Cycling based in Missoula, Montana, offers scenic, well-planned and economical bicycle tours in the U.S. I've traveled with them extensively and can highly recommend them. Here's their website: http://www.adventurecycling.org/

Living Large said...

This sounds like a wonderful trip. I wish I had known you were coming through Arkansas. I would have loved to have met you!

JTravel said...

Hi Living Large, Bummer. I didn't know you were in Arkansas. Next time, I'll give you a heads up. Really loved Little Rock.

Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart said...

Very neat. My DH once took a train (with his bike) to Vancouver, then rode (alone) down the West Coast ... long before he met me.

JTravel said...

Hi Roxanne, The West Coast makes for an amazing bike ride. I road it with a group of other cyclists from Seattle to San Diego. Definitely memorable.

Kris @ Attainable Sustainable said...

Did you take your bike with you?? What a cool adventure.

ruth pennebaker said...

North Dakota is the only one of the contiguous 48 I haven't been to. I think sometimes of flying to Minneapolis and heading due west. Just because.

Vera Marie said...

good way to catch up on your missing states I'm at
the number 6 place too but I won't be riding a bike .

Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi said...

Interesting. Here in Northland, New Zealand, we are building bike trails along old defunct train tracks. Not quite the same thing, but still loving more bike trails!

MyKidsEatSquid said...

That's too bad you couldn't make it through SD. My DH is from SD so we've traveled there several times. The Black Hills/Badlands area is just beautiful. I've always wanted to camp there.

JTravel said...

Hi MyKidsEatSquid, I really wanted to do the Dakotas because of all their natural beauty. Hoping to visit this winter.

JTravel said...

Hi Kris, No. Bringing my own bike first on a plane and then on the bus would've been prohibitively expensive and a real hassle. I easily rented bikes in each city not far from the trail.

JTravel said...

Hi ruth, I don't know why it's taken me so long to visit all these states. But soon I'll take care of the Dakotas, too. Hope you visit the lone state you're missing.

JTravel said...

Hi Melanie, That's cool. I've biked all over NZ but I'd love to return to bicycle a rail-to-trail.

JTravel said...

Hi Vera, I'm not sure how I came up with the idea of biking these states. I think I woke up one morning with the idea. It just seemed a good way of connecting with the land and the people.

London Tours said...

Thanks for your informative post. Hope this will help others who are seeking this types of information.

kerry dexter said...

Jeanine,
as you're preparing for your trips to the Dakotas, may I suggest a soundtrack? Dakota Lullabye, by Albert & Gage. more suggestions if you're interested, of course...

and I really like the rails to bike (and hike) trails. thanks for telling us about your trip.

Jane Boursaw said...

Rails to Trails is huge in this area - northern Michigan - so it's an issue near and dear to my heart. And I love that you looked at a map and discovered that you'd missed some states. That's amazing, because that's probably about how many states I've BEEN to. You're a well-traveled travel writer!

JTravel said...

Hey Kerry, Thanks for those soundtrack reccs. Will totally check 'em out.

JTravel said...

Hi Jane, Thanks for your kind words. I was sad knowing I somehow missed these states. Glad I saw four of the "lost" states. Two to go.

Melanie Haiken said...

Great concept; a fill in the gaps trip. I feel that way about Idaho; I've been all around it without ever really being IN it. And biking is definitely the way to really get to know a place, especially a relatively flat place!

Jennifer Margulis said...

I really love rails to trails and can't wait to read more about these trips. It's amazing how much you travel! I'm inspired.

Daniel said...

Hi Jtravel,
Great site!! I operate a travel site called www.thisBOUNDLESSworld.com.

Have you ever considered doing some pro-bono writing?? If so, we'd love to have you come on.

Just let me know :)
Thanks!

Donna Hull said...

Rails to trails is such a great concept. There's a very popular one in southwest Virginia. I'd love to go back and try it.

James Younghusband said...

this would be helpful since i'm visiting the area soon thansk

canvas prints said...

Wow sounds like you had a great time and really glad you hi those states, update us when you can on the next trip.