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Rail Trails


Because we're not doing much (any at all) riding right now and it's the time of the year to plan for the upcoming season, I'm curious to know of other trails that some of you seasoned veterans have ridden that you think are comparable to the Katy in trail type, scenery, fun factor, etc. that are within 1-2 days drive from Missouri.

We've ridden the Tunnel Hill in Illinois, the Racoon River Valley in central Iowa, the Mickelson in South Dakota, the Steamboat Trace in Nebraska, the Wabash Trace in southwest Iowa, the Elroy Sparta/Lacrosse/Great River trail in Wisconsin, etc. And a few local trails in the Kansas City area. And of course the Katy numerous times while camping, staying at the B&B and motels, day trips, multiday trips, unloaded, fully loaded on the longbike, on the half bikes.......

Are there others that are noteworthy that you have ridden or plan to ride soon? Where are you riding this summer?
posted Feb 1 2010 3:10PM - Trek

Hey Trek, these are 4 of my favorites(other than the Katy)-

The GAP/C&O Canal trail, Pittsburgh to DC- 330 miles,took me 5 days

The Silver Comet, Atlanta to Anniston- 100+ miles, mostly paved

New River Trail, Pulaski Va to Galax Va.- 65+ miles, did the entire trail in a rainstorm.

Viginia Creeper, Abington Va- to Whitetop Mt Only 35 miles but the most scenic trail I've experienced.

Happy Trails,

Paulie
posted Feb 1 2010 4:15PM - Paulie, knoxville

Here's a couple shorter ones close to home.

http://www.friscohighlinetrail.org/

http://www.prairiespirittrail.org/

They are not kept up as near as good as the Katy. Last I knew part of the Prairie trail was re-routed to some gravel roads due to a washout. But they both make a nice day trip.

posted Feb 1 2010 8:30PM - Frank

Have ridden Paul Bunyan (partial), Soo Line, Cannon Valley, Root River and Sakatah Singing River in Minn. All paved. Soo Line was mediocre, all others were worthwhile. Rochester Minn also has many miles of paved trails in and around town along the river. Minn riders have no concept of the phrase "on your left".
Red Cedar, Old Abe, Elroy Sparta, "400", Omaha and Glacial Drumlin in Wisconsin were also worthwhile.
Hope to do the Long Leaf Trace (Hattiesburg Miss) this year.
Katy is still #1 and Hartsburg Trailhead is only 7 miles away.
posted Feb 1 2010 9:12PM - Anonymous, Ashland Mo

Paulie gave me a nice opening to promote a couple other websites that I built, based loosely on the design of the Katy Trail website:
For the C&O Canal Towpath (MD) and Great Allegheny Passage (PA), BikeCandO.com
For the Silver Comet (GA) and Chief Ladiga (AL) Trails, BikeSilverComet.com

The C&O website has been around for a couple of years and is pretty well established. The Silver Comet site just went online a few months ago and might still be short a few business listings, and could use some photos.

These are two really great trails (two sets of connected trails actually). But the Katy will always be tops in my book.
posted Feb 1 2010 9:40PM - Ray (webmaster)

Great job Ray ! Any plans on a "comment forum" ?, like on this site.

Paulie
posted Feb 1 2010 11:26PM - Paulie, Knoxville

Thanks for building those addition web sites. Your a super webmaster Ray! We're blessed to have you~
posted Feb 2 2010 7:50AM - Diane, Scott AFB, Illinois

Thanks for the compliments [blush]. Yes, I expect to add a forum to the C&O site this spring. Might be a while longer on the Silver Comet site - waiting for website traffic to get to a higher level.
posted Feb 2 2010 8:16AM - Ray (webmaster)

I am slowly putting together a site for the Prairie Spirit Trail. I have ridden it many times and the central section is finally open after a washout a few years ago.

Let me know it there is any information that you are looking for and I will try to include it.

bikeprairiespirit.com is the address.
posted Feb 2 2010 9:34AM - Green Machine, Lawrence, KS

I've been on the Kettle Valley Trail in British Columbia, Canada. It is in the wine country of BC.
posted Feb 3 2010 12:08AM - John, Los Angeles

Hey Trek:
Have you tried the Fox River Trail west of Chicago? It runs right next to the river for a good part of it but also has urban stretches as well as farm and small towns strips. Tons of things to do and see as well as lodging food etc. Pretty close to the center ( it's about 60 miles overall) there is a county park with camping on the other side of the river but easy to get to. Most of it is paved so a road bike works but a cross is better because even some of the paved is broken up. I have a friend that lives a mile off it so I have ridden it a few times. Love it. Email if you want more info on it.
posted Feb 3 2010 7:44AM - Doug, Bluffton

Nobody ever tried the Cowboy Trail in Nebraska? It's very long.
posted Feb 3 2010 10:38AM - howard hughes blues

I have scoured the web for info on the Cowboy Trail and called the Nebraska Parks
Commission. It seems that the trail is open from Valentine to Norfolk. This is about half the
total distance. I was told on the phone that it was possible to do the Chadron to Valentine
segment, but it hadn't been fully developed yet. I have my doubts. If anyone knows more, I
would like to hear it.
posted Feb 3 2010 12:48PM - Green Machine, Lawrence

From what I know about the Cowboy without having done it, it is now 185-miles long from Norfolk to Valentine. It has numerous bridges; one is over 1300-ft long. I plan to do it in the next year or two.

Moving on, the following trails might not be much interest to the trail-pro’s on this site. But winter riding two short ones in Topeka (i.e., with snow on the ground) can be interesting because the city clears these busy trails for walkers and riders.

Even though the Shunga (doublewide) and the Lake Shawnee (triplewide) are considered beginner trails (7-miles each, one way; about 3-miles apart from each other), they provide quite a bit of nature and wildlife views (ducks, geese, coots, red squirrels, rabbits, eagles etc) together with a few places to stop, warmup, and eat if desired.

If the temp is near freezing, they can be tricky. Their curves and slopes aren’t perfect. A rider can easily fall, crash into a bridge, or slide into/onto the lake. They can be riden both ways for more milage. They are also a good place to practice layering and winter riding if done carefully. :)
posted Feb 3 2010 4:46PM - jd, gkc

Check out www.bikewashington.com List lots of trails in the Washington,
D.C., northern Virginia, and other areas. You can utilize the D.C. Metro
subway to get to and from some of the trails. Some are rail trails, some
not.
posted Feb 5 2010 11:00PM - Dick, Marietta GA

Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes in the Idaho Panhandle is my favorite. It is a well maintained 71 mile asphalt trail with plenty of forest, river, mountain, and lake scenery. It is 1400+ miles from Kansas City but would be worth the drive. On the web look at
http://friendsofcdatrails.org/CdA_Trail

The website also mentions several nearby trails including the Route of the Hiawatha which packs more scenery in 15 miles and has several tunnels including one that is 1.6 miles long. It is a gravel trail that is rougher than the Katy. I have been on the Katy several times and I would rank it in my top 5.

Closer to Missouri, the Little Miami Scenic Trail between Springfield, Xenia, and Milford, Ohio is a very scenic 70 mile paved trail. The southern half follows the Little Miami River in a narrow forested valley. See miamivalleytrails.org for more information.
posted Feb 19 2010 11:38PM - greg, glasgow, mt

I would like to comment on Web Master Ray. My wife (Mayor Nancy Grant) and I think he''s the greatest. Where else could you get someone to take the time he is spending to help us with all the info that is on our web site. Nancy had a chance to meet Ray in Booneville and she was impressed by his knowledge and friendliness. They were both at a meeting of all the business owners along the trail which I hope we can make known to our biking friends. Again, you are great Ray!
posted Feb 20 2010 9:56AM - michael rodemeyer, Hartsburg

Trek: I have pedaled many areas of the US and I would like to suggest the Natchez Trace between Nashville, TN., to Natchez, MS. This is a wonderful 450 miles elongated National Park which is a two lane paved road with very little vehicular traffic. It truly was one of my best adventures!
posted Feb 20 2010 12:34PM - Jack Shaver, Morrison, Colorado

You might try the Little Miami Trail from the Cincinnati area to Columbus. I don't know
if it is paved all the way but I think it at least goes to London, OH paved. I was on it on
GOBA (Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure) in 2006. You might start in Xenia, OH as there is a
B&O RR trail that connects there.
Also consider the former Pennsylvania Railroad (my employer in the 60s) north of
Columbus, OH. There are segments, which I rode on GOBA in 2008 in the Amish County
on that line. It is a wide trail but I've never ridden a trail that has bicycles on one side and
horses on the other. "Bicycles Only" is painted on the bicycle side of the trail. There are
some other trails around Muncie, IN. The Kal-Haven Trail (30 miles) from Kalamazoo to
South Haven in Michigan is old NYC RR but reports from friends in northern Indiana say
the state of Michigan is not maintaining it.
posted Feb 23 2010 5:00AM - Gene, LaPorte, IN

I did the western most 20 mi. of the Kal-Haven trail this summer and it was in very good shape. I didn't have any problems at all. I was told the section towards Kalamazoo (eastern section) was in just as good shape.

John
posted Feb 23 2010 5:59PM - John, East Jordan

Unfortunately (or fortunately!), multiple KATY rides are my only rail-trail experience. I've toured a little more, but highways are a lot scarier than the beautiful, serene KATY.

I've researched the Cowboy trail in NE several times, since it's close to my home base in Wichita, but I've always decided against it because the web sites & reviews make it seem much more "rustic" than I would be comfortable with. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone that has actually ridden much of it.

I recommend everybody join the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy -- a non-profit org that promotes existing rail-trails and the development of new ones. They have a great magazine with lots of info & photos on some very enticing trails. See http://www.railstotrails.org.
posted Feb 23 2010 8:14PM - Brian L., Wichita

We've driven by large portions of the Cowboy Trail returning from a trip NW. From what I can tell, this 185-mile (currently) trail has three main trailheads with smaller ones in-between. We could see what looked like outhouses or chemical toilets from the nearby highway. The trail appears to be treed much of the way (not as heavily as the Katy) with several small to medium rivers bordering or crossing it.

Riders might have to depend on the towns for lodging, water, and sustenance, all of which seem fairly clean and prosperous. They might have public parks like the ones along the Katy. I would like to ride this trail oneway at least even tho I know it is not as elaborate or interesting as the Katy.
posted Feb 25 2010 3:16PM - jd, gkc

ever ridden the arch trail in st. louis. it starts just north of the arch, and if you follow it all the way, you can actually ride all the way to grafton, ill. quite a long ride. i've only ridden to just across the old chain of rocks bridage. 12 miles m/l one way. also the va. creeper trail. wonderful trail. shorter ride in st. louis county is the grant trail. 5-6 miles long, but enjoyable. check out www.trailnet.org.
posted Feb 26 2010 10:39PM - festus

Trek,

Do you think the Mickelson would be hiker friendly?
posted Feb 27 2010 9:08AM - DougK, Troy

There are long stretches without communities, although there is water in holding tanks at some of the trailheads. If you are used to carrying provisions....there is some very pretty views to see on bike or foot.
posted Mar 1 2010 11:36AM - Trek

If you are going to Chicago, the I&M canal trail from Channohon (Joliet) to Starved Rock area is a decent trail. Peoria has one called the Rock Island trail.
posted Mar 3 2010 10:34AM - Randy, Edwardsville

I will add to the comment on the Little Miami Trail in Ohio - actually LMT is the name for ONE of the pretty sections of a much larger network of 300 miles of interconnected and all-asphalted bikeways in SW Ohio. I am lucky to live only a couple miles from access to get hooked to long distance bicycling. Xenia, OH is a good place to start - then you'll have to decide which direction to take. Xenia-Yellow Springs-Urbana, Xenia-London-plus, the LMT from Xenia-Terrace Park (Cincinnati), Xenia-Jamestown, Xenia-Dayton (then more choices in Dayton). This link will take you to an interactive map http://www.miamivalleytrails.org/Interactive-Maps.htm I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THE KATY
posted Mar 6 2010 8:08AM - daytoncapri, Dayton OH

I will add to the comment on the Little Miami Trail in Ohio - actually LMT is the name for ONE of the pretty sections of a much larger network of 300 miles of interconnected and all-asphalted bikeways in SW Ohio. I am lucky to live only a couple miles from access to get hooked to long distance bicycling. Xenia, OH is a good place to start - then you'll have to decide which direction to take. Xenia-Yellow Springs-Urbana, Xenia-London-plus, the LMT from Xenia-Terrace Park (Cincinnati), Xenia-Jamestown, Xenia-Dayton (then more choices in Dayton). This link will take you to an interactive map http://www.miamivalleytrails.org/Interactive-Maps.htm I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO DOING THE KATY
posted Mar 7 2010 2:32PM - daytoncapri, Dayton OH

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