Rails to Trails – Sort of Hiking

Silver Comet Trail Panoramic

What is Rails to Trails? It is a movement across the country to turn abandoned rail lines into hiking/biking/roller blade trail.

I was first introduced to a Rails to Trails project here in Atlanta many years ago. The project was called “The Silver Comet” trail. This trail is over 61 miles long and starts just outside Atlanta in a city called Smyrna (the town I grew up in). It extends to the Alabama border and connects with another trail, the Chief Ladiga Trail.

There are projects all across America either built, or waiting to be built.  A non-profit organization, Rails to Trails Conservancy has a mission to help these trails get built.  Currently there are over 19,000 miles of rails to trails and over 9,000 potential more miles in the wings.  The conservancy has over 150,000 members all supporting the creation and preservation of these trails.

So, what is so great about these trails?  Well, how about being able to walk down a paved path without worrying about cars, trucks or other potential hazards of walking next to a road?  Well, these paths are just that, a great walkway and bikeway for all to use.  I have walked a few miles of the Silver Comet and biked over 30 miles of it.

These trails may not be a “Hiking Trail” per se, but they can be a great place to stay in shape in between those mountain hikes.  You can also walk on them to break in a new pair of hiking boots or put on your pack and shape up your calves for that 50 mile hike next month.  They are great just to get out in the fresh air and enjoy the sun.

So, go and find a rails to trails near you and check it out.  If you like it and use it often, think about volunteering either your time or money to continue the expansion of these great new “trails”.

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