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May 2012 - RTC TrailBlog

  • Mon River Trails in Morgantown, W.Va. a Great Adventure on National Trails Day

    West Virginia knows how to celebrate National Trails Day. We might have to rename the Mountain State the Throw A Great Party On Your Local Rail-Trail State.

    For those of you who can't make it down to Pocahontas County for the induction of the Greenbrier River Trail into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame this Saturday, there's a very cool community event happening farther north in Morgantown.

    The Mon River Trails Conservancy is celebrating National Trails Day with the 12th annual Deckers Creek Trail Half Marathon. Already record numbers have signed up to take part, with more than 550 runners expected to run from Masontown to Morgantown on Saturday, June 2. 

    Runners will be coming in from 17 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands to enjoy the mostly downhill course on the Deckers Creek rail-trail.

    There aren't many spots left to join the race, but all are still welcome to come along and enjoy the festivities at Hazel Ruby McQuain. Like Bluegrass music? Of course you do. At race headquarters in Hazel Ruby McQuain Park on the Monongahela River in downtown Morgantown, there will be live local bluegrass from 10:15 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., including a set by the Halftime String Band (below).

    While you're in the area, take advantage of the opportunity to explore the wonderful Mon River Trails. Made possible by a grant through the federal Transportation Enhancements program, this 48-mile trail system along a former CSX railway corridor offers great opportunities for birding, fishing, swimming, picnicking, canoeing and kayaking, and is now one of the most popular tourist draws in this region of great natural beauty.

    For more information on this Saturday's event and the Mon River Trails Conservancy, visit www.montrails.org

    Photo of Mon River Trails courtesy of NTEC
    Photo of the Halftime String Band courtesy of the band

  • By Bike and By Boat for the Length of the Mighty Mississippi... and Back!

    I believe this is how most of us picture our perfect retirement: lots of travel, staying fit and active, meeting new people in new places, and working toward a personal passion. By those criteria, Mike Link and Kate Crowley are doing it right.

    In 2010, these retired naturalists and educators undertook a 1,550-mile trek around Lake Superior. It was a mission designed not only to test their capacity for adventure but also to highlight the conservation and protection of such bodies of fresh water and their importance to our ecological future.

    It didn't take Mike and Kate long to rest up from that amazing hike, and right now the husband and wife team are preparing for another remarkable hydrology-themed expedition. For the past few months they have been scouting routes and locations for a trip they are calling 'Full Length Mississippi,' a bicycle and boat journey tracing the length of the Mississippi River from its springs in northern Minnesota, all the way south to its delta in the Gulf of Mexico. 2,500 miles. Oh, and back again, for good measure!

    Once again, Mike and Kate plan to use their journey to bring attention to the issue of our diminishing fresh water resources. Along the way they plan to speak with schools, community groups and environmental professionals about the critical role the Mississippi River and its watershed plays in the continued survival of the continent.

    Of course, rail-trails will be an important part of their route. Lucky for them, in the course of traveling the length of America, Mike and Kate will get to pedal down such well-known and loved rail-trails as the Great River Trail in Illinois, the Paul Bunyan State Trail in Minnesota, and Missouri's Katy Trail State Park (left).

    Where possible, they plan to make good use of the developing Mississippi River Trail, which connects about 3,000 miles of existing and planned trails and bikeways in the 10 states that the river borders or passes through.

    With such a massive undertaking ahead of them, Mike and Kate are looking for interested people to partner with them on Full Length Mississippi. For more information, visit fulllengthmississippi.org.

    Photo of Mississippi River, top, courtesy of Mike Link
    Photo of Katy Trail courtesy Sarah Jane Miller

     

  • Register Now for International Urban Parks Conference, July 14 - 17

    Anyone who has lived in a shared house knows how great it is when you get that perfect roommate; someone with whom you're on the same page---shared interests, shared goals and a complementary way of looking at the world.

    For Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), that describes our office mate, City Parks Alliance, which shares our headquarters here on the fifth floor of the Duke Ellington Building in Washington, D.C.

    City Parks Alliance is the only organization in the country dedicated to encouraging the smart development of parks and greenspaces in urban areas. Like RTC, it understands the enormous importance of these areas to the sustainability of America's cities and the quality of life for the millions of people who live in them.

    That's why we're excited to be involved in the upcoming International Urban Parks Conference, hosted by City Parks Alliance in New York, July 14 - 17.

    "Greater & Greener: Re-Imagining Parks for 21st Century Cities," will be a four-day immersion in best practices and bold new thinking about urban green space planning. The event features more than 100 workshops and tours, so you can customize your own experience around your particular area of interest.

    In the heart of one of the world's most remarkable cities, this unique event will be a rare opportunity to hear from more than 200 cutting-edge thinkers and practitioners, including renowned Danish architect and urbanist Helle Søholt, futurist Gary Golden, National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, and Dan Biederman, co-founder of Grand Central Partnership, 34th Street Partnership, and the Bryant Park Corporation.

    For those interested in rail-trails and urban transportation, the intersection of parks, trails and transportation will be a key discussion topic, with RTC staff and board members presenting on a number of panels: "Trails and Railroads," "Red Fields to Green Fields," "Making Parks Safe--and Keeping Them That Way," "Building a Federal Urban Parks Agenda in Washington," and "Using Technology to Map, Learn and Teach about Parks."

    Register by June 30 to take advantage of discounts, and to get the best selection of the workshops and park tours before they fill up.

    More information: www.urbanparks2012.org.

    Photo of the Hudson River Greenway, NY, (top) courtesy of Boyd Loving

    Photo of Brooklyn Bridge, NY (above) courtesy of Etienne Frossard


     

  • In Oregon, Historical Trolley Line Reborn as Rail-Trail

    National Trails Day, June 2, is really shaping up as being a big one for rail-trails. In northern Oregon, the people of Clackamas County are getting ready to celebrate the opening of the much-anticipated Trolley Trail, a six-mile multi-use trail that follows a historical streetcar line from Milwaukie to Gladstone through the heart of Oak Grove.

    "The completion of the Trolley Trail project is the product of local determination to turn an unused tract of land from our proud past into a landmark that can be used for future generations," said Clackamas County Commission Chair Charlotte Lehan.

    Well said. This is, of course, what rail-trails are all about--recycling and reusing these important corridors and keeping them alive in the American communities of today.

    The North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District and Portland's Metro will be hosting a free ribbon-cutting and dedication event from 10 to 11:30 a.m., June 2, at Oak Grove Elementary School, 2150 S.E. Torbank Road, Milwaukie.

    In addition to tours of a historical 1932 trolley, there will be bicycle safety information and demonstrations from the fire department, a guided historical walk along the Trolley Trail, entertainment and snacks.

    The idea of developing a trail within this right-of-way has been a dream in the community for decades. The trail now connects with existing bike lanes in Milwaukie and Gladstone to complete an essential link in Metro's regional trails system. Ultimately, the trail will be part of a continuous 20-mile loop connecting Portland, Milwaukie, Gladstone, Oregon City and Gresham.

    "I love to see trails open that pass right through neighborhoods and connect the cities that grew up along the rail lines," says Steve Schweigerdt, manager of trail development for Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Western Regional Office. "Now residents can take the Trolley to get to their neighborhood destinations, explore the 20-mile regional loop, or even take the Springwater Corridor all the way out of the metro area. Just the name Trolley Trail conjures a sense of history, and a feeling you can hop on and get where you want to go."

    More info: www.hhpr.com/trolleytrail.

    Historic photo - known to be one of the oldest ever taken of Oregon City - courtesy of Oregon Historical Society
    Map courtesy of North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District

     

  • Former Rail Line in Georgia Now a Development Asset in Gainesville

    It's been 140 years since a railway once propelled the tremendous growth of Mule Camp Springs--a small trading post in northern Georgia--into a city of thousands. Today, that same rail corridor is driving growth of a new kind in the city now known as Gainesville.

    Since its opening last month, the Midtown Greenway, built on a former CSX rail line, has breathed new life into an otherwise rundown industrial and heavily commercial part of the city. It's been a long time coming, a visionary idea that was part of a midtown redevelopment plan adopted in 2001.

    "The trail is a strategic public investment," says Jessica Dempsey-Tullar, special projects manager for Gainesville. "We wanted to bring a visual aesthetic and amenities to a blighted area to spur private reinvestments."

    The trail is already fulfilling its intended purpose; a warehouse and other buildings that line the pathway are currently being rehabilitated. And it's been an unexpected boon for residents--a serene half-mile walkway alongside a stream right in the heart of an urban core. Only two blocks north of the trail, a lively downtown square offers shops, restaurants, art studios and other attractions.

    Part of the revitalization included the conversion of an adjacent disused CSX maintenance yard into a trailhead and neighborhood park. With its grassy open fields and staging area for summer concerts, the park is a welcome community asset.

    With Phase I now complete, design work on Phase II is under way. Possible plans for the next round include not only lengthening the trail, but also adding  interpretive signage, streetscaping, additional public parking and a connection to a new pedestrian bridge over the busy four-lane Jesse Jewell Parkway that will provide an integral link between the downtown and midtown areas. Long-range plans call for the trail's inclusion in an extensive network stretching from Longwood Cove to Gainesville State College.

    "Community support has been positive overall, but sometimes you have to convince people that it's not the trail to nowhere," says Dempsey-Tullar. "They don't understand that it has to be built incrementally. But we have momentum now. This trail was a dream we had 10 years ago, and it's becoming reality. It shows that you really can dream big."

    Photos courtesy of the Gainesville Community Development Department.

  • RTC Honors New York's Rail-Trail Game Changers

    At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) 25th Anniversary celebration in October, we honored a group of men and women--the inaugural Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champions--who have made a remarkable contribution to the rail-trail movement during the past quarter century. We will be posting a blog story on each of the honorees during the coming weeks. Today we pay tribute to two men--co-founders of the High Line, Robert Hammond and Joshua David--whose creativity, vision and leadership have ensured their names will long remind us all of the boundless possibilities of rail-trail conversions.

    Since opening in 2009, the High Line--a pedestrian greenway and linear park built along a former elevated railbed through Manhattan--has become a game changer in the world of urban trails and community-driven adaptive reuse. It has been enormously popular with residents and visitors and has driven the reenergizing of a commercially stagnant area on Manhattan's west side.

    Without the foresight and advocacy of Robert Hammond and Joshua David (right), there would be no High Line. Hammond and David founded Friends of the High Line in 1999, inspired at first by a desire to save the unique trestle structure from demolition, and later by the enormous possibility they saw in an elevated public greenway.

    Friends of the High Line has raised more than $180 million in public and private funding and now manages the park under a licensing agreement with New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation. Hammond and David's work on behalf of the project has been recognized by civic and professional groups worldwide.

    Before the High Line entered their lives, neither man had direct experience in anything resembling trails planning and management, or public projects of this magnitude. Hammond helped start several businesses and consulted with nonprofit organizations. A self-taught artist, he served as an ex-officio member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Board of Trustees from 2002 to 2005.

    Before co-founding Friends of the High Line, David worked as a freelance magazine writer and editor for several publications, including Gourmet, Fortune, Travel + Leisure and Wallpaper.

    In a supportive gesture of inter-city fraternity, Hammond and David selected the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail (FBT) in Chicago to receive the Doppelt Family Rail-Trail Champion grant awarded in their honor. The nonprofit FBT formed in 2003 to advocate for the conversion of the three-mile Bloomingdale rail embankment into an elevated, multi-use, linear park and trail in Chicago.

    Photo courtesy of playgallery.org

  • Climate Riders Nearing the End of Their Amazing Adventure

    Right now, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Kyle Lukacs is on his bike somewhere between the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania and the Maryland border. No, Kyle isn't on the lam from work... it's a much more noble journey.

    He is part of Climate Ride 2012, a five-day ride that left New York City on Saturday, headed for Washington, D.C. When the nearly 200 riders arrive at the U.S. Capitol building tomorrow afternoon, Kyle will no doubt have plenty of great stories for us from this long and ever-changing ride, from the hustle and bustle of New York and New Jersey, to the quiet, curvy roads and green countryside of the Amish regions of Pennsylvania.

    In the meantime, here's a few pics of some of the sights from Climate Ride 2012. Just click on either of the images here to see a slideshow of photos from the ride so far.

    Also, if you're in the D.C. area, be sure to join us on the Upper Senate Lawn on Wednesday afternoon around 4 p.m. to see the riders arrive and listen to guest speakers reflect on the significance of their accomplishment.

    Photos courtesy of Climate Ride 2012.

     

     

  • In the Deep South, Excitement Building Behind New Rail-Trail Project

    Today's edition of the Andalusia Star News in southern Alabama carries a story about significant progress on a project to convert 42.9 miles of out-of-service CSX railway lines in Covington, Coffee and Geneva counties into a recreational trail.

    The tracks throughout the section were removed earlier this year, and, according to Alabama Trails Commission (ATC) Chairperson Debbie Quinn, a number of grant applications to fund land purchase and trail construction have been filed.

    According to the Andalusia Star, the ATC has filed a notice on behalf of the three counties asking the federal government to grant interim trail use for the property.

    Quinn says that CSX "is in agreement with us to work on moving forward with the rail trail," that would connect the cities of Andalusia and Geneva. The next step is for CSX to come back to the ATC with a valuation of the property.

    "We'd love to see the project under way--and this is a very conservative estimate--in a year," Quinn told the newspaper. "We feel it is such a unique opportunity for this region of the state to obtain this corridor for a rail-trail, but it's also a great asset to the state and the region for tourism."

    Alabamans have an excellent example of the recreational and economic opportunities of rail-trails in their own 33-mile Chief Ladiga Trail (above). Along with the Silver Comet Trail, with which it connects at the Georgia border, the Chief Ladiga is a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame, and is the state's most prominent trail asset.

    Quinn has been an important figure in the growth of trails advocacy in Alabama in recent years. In 2010 the city of Fairhope Councilor was appointed to lead the newly created Alabama Trails Commission. Alabama lawmakers overwhelming passed HB 376 and SB 258, sponsored by Rep. Cam Ward, (R-Alabaster), and Sen. Wendell Mitchell, (D-Luverne), creating the Alabama Trails Commission with the express mission "to advance development, interconnection and use of cultural, historic and recreational lands and water trails."

    In addition to the Alabama Trails Commission Advisory Board, the legislation also established a tax-deductible nonprofit foundation to advance the trail commission's goals by fundraising and supporting recreation in education.

    In 2011 Alabama held its first-ever statewide trails conference. During that groundbreaking event, the keynote speaker, Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey, gave a ringing endorsement of the role that trail development should play in contributing to the state's future.

    "We must promote the many recreational venues we have in this state," Ivey said. "Ecotourism has the potential to economically jump-start many rural areas of Alabama."

    Photo of cyclists on the Chief Ladiga Trail courtesy of TrailLink.com/'onebengoss'.

  • Six-Time World Champ Bringing Biking to the People

    If I ever needed to hire a guy to convince people that riding a bike was awesome, Chris Eatough would be the guy.

    Want to see a resume? It begins with a few accomplishments, namely being one of the most renowned and heralded professional mountain bikers of all time. That's all.

    Six-time 24 Hour Solo World Champion. Five-time 24 Hour Solo National Champion. 2007 24 Hours of Moab Champion, National Ultra Endurance Champion and BC Bike Race Champion. The man has his own Wikipedia entry. He's like a one-man Gatorade commercial.

    But after retiring from the sport in 2009, rather than basking in his considerable glory Eatough (right) has set about bringing the joys and benefits of biking to more people. As the program manager for Bike Arlington in Arlington County, Va., Eatough now focuses his energy on what he calls "education and encouragement," making sure residents have the maps, advice, support and resources they need to make biking a regular part of their lives.

    "We're lucky here in Arlington in that we have for a long time had very supportive leadership, committed to making transit and biking and walking a key part of the transportation system," he says. "It's a progressive place, in that way. Biking is seen as more than being just a recreational thing. It's right there in the transportation planning, and the county knows it's a huge part of how we make Arlington a better place to live."

    When I spoke with Eatough yesterday, he was winding down from a screening of the acclaimed documentary, 24 Solo, which features a climactic moment in his professional mountain biking career. But his focus was very much on what's ahead --namely, Bike to Work Day, which thanks largely to Bike Arlington's promotion is a huge deal each year in the county.

    "We've got some nice competition going to see which sites have the most registered riders," he says. "I think Rosslyn had 900 or so at last count. It's neck and neck between them and the Reagan building."

    The promotion of Bike to Work Day is just one example of Eatough's mission to further establish riding into the regular transportation choices of residents of Arlington County. His office is working with big employers in the region to provide bike parking, showers and lockers for bike commuters. And the popular "Two Wheel Tuesdays" events, featuring bike tips, guest speakers and movies, has further encouraged what is already a strong grassroots biking community.

    As they do for me, rail-trails play a big part in Eatough's own day-to-day routine--we both travel on the Capital Crescent Trail each morning and afternoon to get to and from work. (I will admit, it is possible he gets there faster than I do). But Eatough says that rail-trails are also a critical part of Arlington's transportation infrastructure.

    "The W&OD is a heavily used commuter trail--it's like a bike highway," he says. "And the Bluemont Junction Trail in the center of the county is part of an important triangle loop that gives riders a nice recreational option, too. Rail-trails here are a critical part of how we get around."

    If you're after a bit of inspiration to get you psyched for riding to work more often, check out Eatough in action in the 24 Solo trailer. And if you're riding in Arlington County, do yourself a solid and wear a helmet. Cause you know you're probably not going to be able to outrun this guy. Not unless you have at least two engines strapped to that bike of yours.

    Photo of Eatough in action courtesy of www.chriseatough.com.
    Photo of Capital Bikeshare riders on the Mount Vernon Trail courtesy of Bike Arlington.

  • A Georgia Gem: The Columbus Fall Line Trace Opens

    Residents were so eager for the Columbus Fall Line Trace to open, they started trying to use it while still under construction, says Rick Jones, planning director for the city of Columbus. Happily, the 11-mile rail-trail in southwest Georgia opened for official use late last fall and was immediately popular.

    "We have a rest stop on the trail with 90 spaces for parking, and it's completely full on the weekends," Jones says.

    That rest stop, along with one other along the trail, features new buildings that house restrooms, drinking fountains, benches and retail space for bike shops and other services useful to trail-goers.

    Extending from downtown Columbus to Psalmond Road in Midland, the trail offers an eclectic cross-section of the community: busy shopping areas, business districts, a medical complex, neighborhoods, the Columbus State University campus and other schools. At the northern end, a completely serene stretch under a heavy canopy of trees makes you forget you're in the city.

    A connection to the beautiful and historical 15-mile Chattahoochee Riverwalk at the trail's southern end adds to its appeal. At the river, outdoor enthusiasts will soon be able to enjoy the city's whitewater course, expected to be a major tourist draw for the area.

    So whether by foot, wheels or paddles, the trail is definitely one to explore.

    Photos of the Columbus Fall Line Trace courtesy of the Columbus Planning Department.

     

     

  • The Perfect Time to Pedal into the Great Unknown

    For me, the ride to work is a regular part of my day, and after doing it for about a year I have come to recognize many of the people I pass along the trail each morning. Lady with apple green helmet. Young kid on Mongoose BMX. Speed racer guy with Dallas Cowboys sticker on bag.

    But this month, each morning I have noticed new people along the trail, riders I hadn't seen before. It's terrific. All sorts of people seem to be taking advantage of the good weather and swapping the congestion, frustration and stagnancy-vibe of a car commute with the freshness, activity and strength-vibe of a bike commute.

    They are people of all kinds--you don't have to be a Tour de France-r with all the fancy gear. All it takes is a pair of wheels and a helmet, and you can make an enormous change to your daily routine.

    That said, it's sometimes difficult to take that first ride. You're unsure of the best way to get there, whether you'll need a spare shirt once you get to work, what will happen to your hair, how long it will take. The only way to answer those questions is to take the plunge!

    And there's no better day to do it than this Friday--National Bike to Work Day. For one thing, as a bike-to-work rookie you won't be alone. Americans all across the country will be using Friday as the perfect excuse to take up that New Year's resolution, or to make the change they have long been considering.

    Why don't you make a party of it? Grab some work colleagues and friends, and ride to work together. Congratulate yourselves with a long lunch at that Indian place you've been meaning to try. Ready to pedal? Here're some pointers.  

    Poster courtesy of baltimorevelo.com.

     

     

  • Illinois Rail-Trail Ride Perfect for First-Timers

    When Jason Berry of Blue Island, Ill., told his mom that friends had talked him and his wife Mary into signing up for an overnight bicycle camping tour, his mom was incredulous.

    "She asked if our friends really knew us at all," says Jason, with a smile.

    Jason and Mary had never gone camping by bike before. But that made them the perfect people for this particular bike camping tour--GITy Up! 2012.

    Covering a spectacular triangle loop of rail-trails west of Chicago, GITy Up! is purposefully designed for those who haven't done many long rides before but are keen to take the plunge. The route is flat and largely car-free, and there will be plenty of mechanical and gear support on-hand.

    "Bicycle touring is an amazing cross-country adventure," says Steve Buchtel (pictured right), executive director of the nonprofit Trails for Illinois and organizer of GITy Up! 2012. "Folks riding cross-country have the legs, the gear and, most of all, the time to hit the open road days on end. They're like the one-percenters of everybody who rides a bike. We wanted to introduce bike touring to the 99 percent."

    The GIT in GITy Up! stands for the Grand Illinois Trail, a 500-mile loop connecting a number of existing rail-trails, from Chicago to the Mississippi River and back

    Trails for Illinois are obviously eager to impress new riders with the beauty of Illinois' rail-trails. In addition to the lovely Fox River Trail, riders will get to experience the Illinois Prairie Path, one of America's premier rail-trails and a member of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Rail-Trail Hall of Fame.

    Riders will camp overnight in Delnor Woods in St. Charles. The route also showcases interesting attractions like Cantigny, Fermilab and the attractive communities along the trails.

    "They're towns that know how to cater to trail users," Buchtel says.

    Trails for Illinois will transport all participants' bags and tents, so riders don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on feather-light, compact camping equipment, or much more on the touring bikes that carry it. Any bike you can ride comfortably for 25 miles and can carry a water bottle is likely perfect for the compacted gravel surface of much of the route," says Buchtel.

    Trails for Illinois will also cater dinner and breakfast, "with s'mores filling much of the time in between."

    Bike camping experts from REI will provide on-route and on-site assistance. And throughout May, REI will host overnight bike camping classes (and special deals) for GITy Up! riders and others considering overnight bicycle touring at their Chicago-area locations.

    And best of all, the proceeds of GITy Up! support the work of Trails for Illinois, a nonprofit trail organization that's helping Illinois create an interconnected network of non-motorized, multi-use trails.

    Registration is limited to 250 riders. To register, or for more information visit www.trailsforillinois.org/gityup.

     

  • Rail-Trail Happenings to Celebrate National Trails Day, June 2

    Organized by the American Hiking Society and local trail groups across the country, National Trails Day, Saturday, June 2, is the perfect opportunity to spend an early summer's day on a rail-trail near you.

    Whether it's a first-time walk along a trail you've long been meaning to check out, or rolling up the sleeves and doing some satisfying clean-up and maintenance work, it is easy to join the millions of Americans showing their appreciation for our growing trails system on National Trails Day.

    If you're looking for something to do on National Trails Day, here are a few events taking place on rail-trails...

    Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is using National Trails Day as the perfect moment to celebrate the induction of West Virginia's Greenbrier River Trail into the RTC Rail-Trail Hall of Fame. We are hosting a free community celebration in the lovely town of Marlinton, and are inviting all our friends and supporters (that's you) to come along. Following the induction ceremony at the 9th Street trailhead at 1p.m., there will be a barbecue lunch in Marlinton Park at 1:30 p.m., and a guided ride and walk leaving at 3 p.m. More info: contact RTC's Jake Lynch at 202.974.5107, or at jake@railstotrails.org.

    In upstate New York, the Victor Hiking Trails organization will again host a series of hikes along the Auburn Trail. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. at the Fishers Fire Station #1, 7853 Main Street, Fishers, with a free continental breakfast. All are welcome to have some juice, coffee, tea, pastries and fruit and learn about the more than 50 miles of trails in Victor. Guided hikes for different abilities begin at 9 a.m. Free pizza lunch afterwards! You can't beat that. Register at 585.234.8226 before May 30. More info: www.VictorHikingTrails.org.

    The people of Danvers, Mass., are throwing a huge party on June 2 to celebrate the ribbon-cutting and dedication of the Danvers Rail-Trail. It's going to be a big day in Danvers, with too many activities to list--but here's the gist: music, farmers market, pancake breakfast, magic, face painting, local bands, local bites, local beers, bike raffle... and of course, a stroll along the trail. More info: www.danversrailtrail.org

    On the West Coast, the city of Milwaukie, Ore., just south of Portland, will host a celebration June 2 to mark the completion of the six-mile Trolley Trail, a much-anticipated rail-trail project that has been 10 years in the making. There will be activities for kids, tours of an historical trollery, information about the trail, entertainment, snacks and refreshments, and a guided walk at this free event. The celebration is happening at Oak Grove Elementary School, 2150 S.E. Torbank Road, Milwaukie. More info: ncprd.com

    On the edge of the Great Salt Lake in Utah, the communities of Clearfield, Clinton, Layton, Kaysville and Farmington are inviting walkers, runners, bicyclists, inline skaters and skateboarders to take on a section, or all 14 miles, of the Denver & Rio Grande Western Rail Trail. Leashed dogs are allowed, and in support of National Trails Day event organizers will have special activities along the route. More info: www.clearfieldcity.org, or call Clearfield Community Services at 801.525.2790.

    There is plenty happening on the Montour Trail (pictured left) outside Pittsburgh, Pa. Cecil Friends of the Montour Trail are hosting the 8th annual 5k 'Tails for Trails' fun dog walk, June 2, between 8:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. More info: contact Mary Ellen McKenna at 412.445.0185, or Dennis Sims at 412.496.4308, or visit www.montourtrail.org.

    The Friends of the Montour Trail in Bethel Park are holding their 7th annual JR Taylor Memorial Bridge 5K Race/Walk on June 2. About 300 runners and walkers are expected to participate in the event. Register at www.runhigh.com. Proceeds from the race will help maintain and upgrade the trail and promote the continuing extension of the trail in the community and neighboring communities.

    If there isn't an event on your local rail-trail, it's easy to start one. Get a group of friends, reach out through your trail managers or local volunteers, and meet up for a ride, walk, run, or do a bit of spring (summer) cleaning.

    Or, find trail events near you at the National Trails Day website.

    Whatever you do, we hope you have a wonderful National Trails Day!

    Photo of "Walk a Hound" event on the Morgana Run Trail courtesy of Slavic Village Development Corp.
    Photo of the Montour Trail courtesy of Mark Imgrund/www.montourtrail.org.

     

     

  • Resounding New Evidence: America Wants Biking and Walking in Transportation Future

    These days the question of whether America's transportation funding should support the development of bike and pedestrian infrastructure is often framed as a political issue, as if these facilities only benefit particular demographics or parties.

    But a national poll released this week found that 83 percent of all respondents support maintaining or growing the federal funding streams that enable active transportation--sidewalks, bikeways, trails and bike paths.

    The poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and promoted by America Bikes, reveals that regardless of their political affiliation or where they live, a great majority of Americans believe walking and biking is an important part of the nation's transportation future.

    The poll found that:

    • 80 percent of Republican respondents and 88 percent of Democrat respondents think Congress should maintain or increase federal funds for biking and walking.
    • 85 percent of Northeastern respondents, 79 percent of Midwesterners, 84 percent of Southerners, and 84 percent of respondents from Western states reported support for maintaining or increasing funding for sidewalks and bikeways.
    • 91 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 support continuing or increasing biking and walking funds.

    Overall, the study found that people walk and bike for non-recreational purposes in small towns and rural areas at comparable rates to big cities. These findings have plenty of other research to back them up. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's (RTC) recently published study, Active Transportation Beyond Urban Centers, highlighted U.S. Department of Transportation research that found the share of work trips made by bicycle in small towns is nearly double that of urban centers.

    So from farming communities to major metropolitan centers, from East to West, North to South, Americans are hungry for more investment in walking and biking infrastructure. 

    The timing for these latest numbers is extremely fortuitous, as a special conference in the U.S. Congress is right now negotiating the re-authorization of the next federal transportation bill. This new poll provides fresh evidence for these policymakers to consider while determining the priorities of our transportation future! 

    Photo, top, of downtown Alpena, Mich. courtesy of Michigan Municipal League.
    Photo, bottom, of bike racks outside a school in Alpine, Utah, courtesy of Cherissa Wood. 

     

     

  • British Columbia Celebrates Reopening of Historic Trestle

    In the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Rails to Trails magazine, we asked readers to tell us about their favorite bridge or trestle on a rail-trail.

    It was great to hear from so many rail-trail fans across the country, telling wonderful stories about the High Trestle Trail in Iowa, the Walkway Over the Hudson in New York, and the Salisbury Viaduct Trestle along the Great Allegheny Passage in Pennsylvania, to name a few.

    But it was especially pleasing to hear from our rail-trail friends north of the border, who told us about the recent reopening of an historical trestle that now connects the two formally separated sections of the Cowichan Valley Trail through the spectacular forests and former settlement communities on Southern Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

    The Kinsol Trestle was built in the early part of the 20th century, and from 1920 to 1979 carried an estimated five billion board feet of timber from forests around Lake Cowichan to ports and markets nearby.

    Distinguished by a seven -degree curve over a low-level Howe truss (named after its inventor, William Howe, from Spencer, Mass., who patented his truss design in 1840), the Kinsol Trestle is a monster at more than 145-feet tall and more than 600-feet long.

    Its restoration was driven by a strong and committed local trail community, and residents eager to see an important part of the area's pioneering history survive.

    The trestle was officially opened on July 28 of last year, with several hundred eager hikers serenaded across the trestle by a band of bagpipers. The new bridge retains 60 percent of its historical timber.

    For more information about the Kinsol Trestle, as well as a library of wonderful photos, visit www.kinsoltrestle.ca.

    Photos courtesy of www.kinsoltrestle.ca

     

     

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