Long-distance cyclers, bikepackers, and those looking for a new type of adventure challenge may want to check out the Great American Rail-Trail. This new bike route is in the early stages of planning, but looks to link up existing bike routes in the U.S., creating a 4000-mile (6437 km) bike-only road that runs coast-to-coast. Best of all, it is already more than 50% complete and could be completely finished in the next few years.
The proposed route would run from Washington, D.C. in the east all the way to Washington state in the west, passing through 11 other states in the process. The GART is made up of both paved and gravel trails, and would offer access to some of the longer, more elaborate bikepacking routes that already exist in the western U.S. The route also connects over a dozen existing cycling routes, providing unprecedented access across the entire U.S.
Once completed, the GART will offer riders the ability to ride from coast-to-coast, passing through the historic eastern part of the U.S., into the Great Plains, and through the Rocky Mountains, all the way to the Pacific. Best of all, the entire route is free from vehicle traffic, meaning riders won’t have to share the road with cars, bringing not only a higher level of safety and security, but a more serene travel experience too.
According to the Great American Rail-Trail Conservancy, more than 50 million people already live within 50 miles of the proposed trail. The organization was first formed back in 1986 with an eye of creating just such a long distance route. Today, there are reportedly more than 23,000 miles (37,014 km) of rail-trails across the U.S. Many of those will be connected to one another in order to from the GART.
The plan for creating the trail is still coming together of course, but progress is quickly being made. There is no timeframe yet on when the entire route will be finished, but it may only be a few more years. To find out more, visit the GART website, where you can signup for regular updates.
Thanks to my friends at Adventure Journal for sharing this story.