NE Rail Trails
I love riding rail trails. For me, a good rail trail is through a wilderness area, has few road crossings, and is suitable on hybrids with road oriented tires. I love paved trails, but the trails with the best scenery don't tend to be paved. I do meandering rides of various distances, but usually like a trail where I can do at least a 20-30 mile round trip.
Does anyone have any favorites in the Northeastern Region? I'll list a few I have ridden and liked. I'll expand the list, and list any future findings, if the thread catches on.
Many rail trails I like are near water, and I typically do out and back rides... so I like starting at the down river side, so that the return trip after I turn around is usually slightly down hill. The slope is usually so gentle, that I don't really notice it until I turn around. However, especially when I lose track and ride until I start to get tired, it is nice for the return trip to be a little easier. :)
Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail
One of my favorite "local" places to ride. Crushed stone surface that is pretty good for most of the length of the trail. One rough spot near the railroad crossing about 6 miles from the Glen Onoko side, and the last mile or so on the north (from Tannery road to the end) is not as smooth, closer to single track than the rest of the trail. Most of the trail you are beside the Lehigh River. The southern 6 miles (before the railroad crossing) rides beside an active rail line (lightly used) but from there north it is more wilderness. There are several small waterfalls along the route, and other than the middle access point at Rockport, you will not see a car from Glen Onoko to Taqnnery Road (about 25 miles). Well, you will sometimes see a pickup truck with a park ranger making the rounds of the trail, but other than that, it is car free. There are connecting trails at both ends, I have not taken the ride south of Glen Onoko/Jim Thorpe yet. THe only facilities along the trail is at the Rockport accesss, which has a restroom facility. Permanent, but outhouse like... there is a similar facility at the Glen Onoko parking area, and stores at the northern access point in White Haven.
Black Diamond Trail
This is really an extension of the same trail system as the Lehigh Gorge to the north of White Haven. I have not ridden the whole trail yet, but I did ride about 6 miles from White Haven before turning around. The trail up to the first crossing (about 1.5 miles) is rugged... just like the last section from the Tannery Road junction to White Haven, only a little rougher. What is it about the trail between those two crossings? It seems like a different trail than the rest of the system. However, once you cross the road (and it isn't straight across, you have to ride along the road for a hundred yards or so) the trail is much nicer. You run past some homes and farms that you don't see on the Lehigh Gorge, but the trail and view is still nice. The only other down side is that there are a few crossings over railroad tracks etc and the posts are a little close, causing me to slow down quite a bit before crossing. I will definitely be taking this trail for the full length next year.
Pine Creek Trail
This is a 60+ mile trail running between Wellsboro and Jersey Shore in northern PA. It runs through the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania" on the north end and has a crushed gravel surface. I have ridden 2 sections of this trail, and it is very nice. The first time, we started near Jersey Shore and did an out and back trip (about 8 miles then had ice cream and turned around). The creek is great to ride along, and at a few places the trail crosses bridges to the other side for a while. The surface is great for riding. There are several signs teaching about the local wildlife, particularly rattle snakes. I haven't seen any yet, but I guess they are fairly common. The second trip we rode was the northern half, from Wellsboro to Slate Run (which is about 1/2 way down the trail). I had Pine Creek Outfitters shuttle my car (with luggage) to the hotel, so it was convenient, and allowed us to hit the road home the next morning because we had other plans. There are occassional outhouse type facilities on the trail, and small stores at as couple of the small villages that the trail passes through. The north end is definitely the most scenic part, but don't expect anything like the real Grand Canyon. It is beautiful, and well worth the time to ride!
The Genessee Valley Greenway Trail (Rochester, NY) is pretty nice. I used to ride on it a lot with my hybrid, but I mostly ride on roads with my road bicycle now.
It also connects to some other greenway trails in the area. It's pretty rough in spots so you'd need wider tires for it, I think I've seen people ride it on road bicycles but I wouldn't try it.
Edit: oops, it's not technically a rail trail, although it connects to some actual rail trails. But it fits the description of what you're looking for.
North and South County Trails as well as the Putnam Rail Trail, all get you from Van Cortland Park, in NYC to Brewster, some 40 miles. About 1-1/2 miles of road.
Harlem Valley Rail Trail, Amenia to Copake Falls, with a wonderful road connection. 20 Miles.
Duchess Rail Trail, Hopewell Junction to the Hudson River - Walkway over the Hudson, connecting to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to near New Paltz, then theWallkill Valley Rail Trail, south to Walkill or north to Kingston.
A bit further afield, Downeast Sunrise Trail, Ellsworth, Maine to Ayers Junction, 85 miles.
Columbia Trail north from High Bridge, NJ to Califon is very scenic. Haven't ridden it beyond that point.
The Paulinskill Valley Trail in west central NJ (Columbia area) is supposed to be nice, but it sounds like it can be messy in places, at least after prolonged rain.
Further west in PA is the Allegheny River Train and connections trail. I plan to ride it next year as part of a tour across PA.
And, of course, there is the Great Allegheny Passage from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD. Rode it in September during a tour acorss PA. Extremely user friendly. Makes for a nice three-day trip either camping or staying one of the many inns/B&Bs/guest houses along the route.
I have backpacked Pine Creek Gorge Trail twice, It's on the other side of the creek from the trail. Used Pine Creek Outfitters for a shuttle to the souther trail terminus. The owner is a nice guy. He's a former grant writer for SEPTA who got tired of the 9-5 world and bought the business when it went up for sale many years ago. It turns out we used to live about 5 blocks from each other in Philly.
Re: The Black Diamond Trail, I believe the lack of continuity in the right-of-way is due in part to the fact that when Conrail inherited the properties of the Lehigh Valley Railroad and the CNJ, they cut and pasted the lines in order to take advantage of the better pieces of each. The Black Diamond starts out on the former CNJ line. (In fact, that shopping center in White Haven is right where the CNJ used to run. The still active LV line runs a little to the west of the old CNJ line. When you come to that first crossing on the Black Diamond Trail (Middleburg Rd) make a left, and then a right to get back on the trail, you have now switched to the former right of way of the LV and the active railroad continues on what was the old CNJ. Probably more tban you wanted to know.
Blackstone Valley is pretty good, but I don't see them completing the off road portions in my lifetime. http://www.blackstoneriverbikeway.com/
The other major trail in SE New England is the East Bay Bike Path, which is just a melting pot of the worst MUP behavior. Plus, it eventually has more road crossings than I care to count. It's got some great views, but the last time I rode it I was practically run off of my side of the bikepath by a group of roadies riding like they were in the Peleton, taking up the whole path.
In some places, you can't go 100' between road crossings. :(
Originally Posted by OneGoodLeg
The Shining Sea path on the Cape, from North Falmouth to Woods Hole, is one of the better ones. 10.5 miles long, nine road crossings, only two of which are heavily travelled. It's pretty wooded, so you get a lot of downed leaves this time of the year, but if they're dry, it's not that big a deal. Of course, like everywhere on the Cape, it's a zoo in the summer.
I'm a fan of all the rail trails in the Hudson Valley listed above. Although not technically a "rail trail," we have a really nice, flat bikeway taking shape here on Long Island, too. The Bethpage Bikeway, which previously spanned from Bethpage State Park to Merrick Road in Seaford, now includes a soon-to-be completed section between Bethpage State Park and Woodbury. When all the kinks are worked out and the road crossings are finished, this will be one of the premier rail trail-type bikeways in the region.
I've got several of these listed at my website, which is at http://nyrides.freehosting.net
An earlier poster mentioned the Columbia Trail from High Bridge to Califon. It continues past Califon to Long Valley and a mile or so beyond that. I like to get lunch at the Long Valley Pub and Brewery before heading back (downhill!) to High Bridge.
Another trail is the Delaware and Raritan Feeder Canal tow path/rail trail from Washington's Crossing State Park, to Frenchtown (plus another mile or so). That's a 45 mile round trip with lots of food options along the way. Also, it follows the Delaware River and depending on the height of the river, you can walk out on a wing dam to the middle of the river about a mile south of Lambertville.
At Bulls Island you can walk over a foot bridge to Lumberville, PA.
There's a canal and path on the PA side of the river but that was damaged by storms starting in 2004 and has never been fully repaired, so some parts are rideable and others not.
The D&R path goes through Trenton and all the way up to New Brunswick along the main D&R canal. However, the condition of the path is quite variable. It might also be worth mentioning that parts of this segment of the path are part of the East Coast Greenway.
Thanks everyone for the good input so far. I like having more options open to me as I wander around the region, and hope this thread is a good resource for others as well.
Even though the title says rail trails, I am glad some showed flexibility. I do like any trail with the characteristics of a rail trail... relatively flat, relatively smooth and few (if any) road crossings.
I must have been on the East Bay trail on a relatively good day, and I must have accidentally picked the best part of the trail, because my short ride there was wonderful a few years ago. Maybe the people riding on trails in a style better suited for the road is part of why I like out of the way trails.
Nice info on your site Papa Tom. Thanks for linking.
Originally Posted by Papa Tom
Not rail trails, but pretty much the same thing are the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail, from Brunswick to Trenton, then links to the section along the river up to Frenchtown, NJ, I think it's 70 miles. Gravel surfaced.
The other biggie is the Erie Canalway Trail system, which spans NY State from Albany to Buffalo, with extensions on assorted canals to Lake Champlain, Oswego, etc.... according the the NY State site - http://www.ptny.org/canalway/
I know there are more, such as the Four Seasons Adventure Trail, running 27 miles from Newport, Maine north to Dover-Foxcroft, Maine. Gravel, link - http://www.nrcm.org/documents/Newpor...Trail_hike.pdf
The Petit du Nord Trail in Quebec, north of Montreal, 124 miles, rail trail, gravel - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_Li..._Train_du_Nord
This one is supposed to be a great ride with towns every few miles, great french food for breakfast, lunch and dinners, B&B's, shuttle busses....
>>>>The Petit du Nord Trail in Quebec, north of Montreal, 124 miles, rail trail, gravel - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parc_Li..._Train_du_Nord<<<
This listing reminded me of the bikeway that starts in Old Montreal and heads out to Lachine, mostly along the Lachine Canal. I haven't ridden it in years, but it was one of my all-time faves.
I've ALSO had only good experiences on the East Bay up in Rhode Island.
Inasmuch as I do road rides out of L'Ville, Bulls Island and Frenchtown, I cannot believe I forgot about the feeder canal.
Originally Posted by groth
I deeply miss the campground at Bull's Island. For a couple of years the GF and I would ride up there from Philly and camp for a long weekend. It's my understanding that the state has acquired property up river for a new campground. Guesstimate is that it won't be open for possibly close to a decade.
The PA side is a mess in places.
My wife and I rode this one a few Septembers ago. It was the best rail trail we've ridden.
Missisquoi Valley Rail Trail http://www.mvrailtrail.com/ in Northern Vermont
We rode the entire thing , starting in St Albans to Richford then back. Stopped in Enosburg falls for lunch. Fantastic views of the river, Jay peak and many farms. We took our cross bikes with 700 x32 tires but we could have used our road bikes the surface was that good.
Next summer we plan to ride this again on our tandem as part of a several day tour up into Canada.
Originally Posted by Papa Tom
We did Le Petit Train Du Nord about 6 years ago. There are lots of operators who can book you multi day trips. We did a 4 day 3 night trip for around $300 for two. Breakfast and dinner in B&B's along the route, and our luggage was bussed for us. Did it on road bikes, though most people were using mtb's or hybrids. Most of the trail is crushed stone. About 125 miles from start to finish. There are also plenty of campsites along the trail if that's how you like to travel.
The Stony Creek Rail Trail is approx. 18 miles. Its north of Harrisburg, PA near Interstate 81 at the first exit north of Interstate 78. The Appalachian Trail jumps on to it for 1/4 mile. The Rausch Gap shelter & campsite is there so you can make it a bike-camping trip. The forest is the St. Anthony Wilderness north of Fort Indiantown National Guard camp. There's a reservoir at the eastern end and the Susquehanna River at the other. There are a few other mountainbike trails in that area.
The Delaware-Lehigh Trail continues approx. 3miles south of Jim Thorpe to almost Allentown, PA. The connection is on the steep roadway so don't try and ride it. Start at Lehighton, PA on the west side of the Lehigh river. Its very nice and well maintained.
I wish they would make the connector bridge so we can ride from White Haven down to near Allentown.
The Great AllegHeny Passage (http://www.atatrail.org/) is a 150 mile trail that runs from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD where it hooks up with the C&O Canal Tow path which takes you all the way into Washington, DC. I higly reconmend riding the portion from Connellsville, PA to Frostberg, MD. This part runs through the Allegheney mountains crossing numerous old railroad bridges and going through the 3300 feet long Big Savage tunnel. It will take you over the east-coast continental divide and over the Mason-Dixon line.
Any Rail Trails around Penn. State. (State College)
Originally Posted by jsilvia
The Ebensburg end of the Ghost Town Trail is about 64 miles from state college.
What I'm waiting for is the Lamoille Valley Rail trail, which when finished will go from St. Johnsbury, VT to lake Champlain. There are a few sections done, but I hope I live long enough to ride it end to end and back. We also enjoyed the Missisquoi trail and the Petit Train du Nord. I live near and often ride the Farmington Valley Rail Trail. When finished, it'll go from New Haven to Northhamton, MA. As is, there's a 30 mile+ chunk completed. The Airline Trail from East Hampton, CT to Amston, CT is also quite beautiful.
>>>Any Rail Trails around Penn. State. (State College)<<<<
Is that in Philly? If so, the Schuylkill (pronounced "school kill") River Bikeway is one of the nicest in the area. Here's a little bit of information from my website: http://nyrides.freehosting.net/philly.htm
PS: I just re-read my notes about this bikeway and I think that when I created the page back in the 90's, I hadn't yet discovered the full beauty of this ride. Also, I've heard there have been improvements. Bottom line: Disregard the "blah" description. It's a great path.
As a University of Pennsylvania alum, I have to say "no." "Penn State" is Pennsylvania State University and is located in State College, PA, which is in the center of the state. Surely you remember hearing a lot of unflattering news about Penn State not that long ago. Something about an assistant football coach.
Originally Posted by Papa Tom
U. Penn is an Ivy League school in Philly.
The SRT is still pretty much ho-hum as scenery goes and often awfully crowded during many weekends to the point of being dangerous in many spots.
And don't forget the rail crossings in Norristown. http://goo.gl/maps/Q7yXJ
Originally Posted by indyfabz
>>>>The SRT is still pretty much ho-hum as scenery goes and often awfully crowded during many weekends to the point of being dangerous in many spots.<<<<
Really? You mean my initial impression was accurate? I seem to remember riding it a second time and going away pretty impressed. Also, I've read many descriptions of it here over the years and have come to believe it has gotten even nicer. I guess it had a short "golden era" that has now passed.
Those are inactive tracks and rubberized. Not much of a problem.
Originally Posted by Bezalel