Trail-Building Basics | Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

I love the Rails To Trails program. Using our resources wisely is an important part of of our heritage.



Rail-trails are multi-purpose public paths created from former railroad corridors. They are most often flat or follow a gentle grade as they traverse urba

n, suburban and rural communities in America. Ideal for many uses, such as walking, bicycling, inline skating, cross-country skiing, and equestrian and wheelchair use, rail-trails are extremely popular for both transportation and recreation.

A rail-with-trail is a public pathway that runs parallel to an active rail line. As of 2015, there are more than 240 rails-with-trails in the United States.

The relationship between the trail and the rail varies depending on the community, and rails-with-trails operate under a wide variety of conditions. The rail and trail share an easement and are sometimes separated by extensive fencing. Some trails are adjacent to high-speed, high-frequency trains while others run alongside tourist railroads and slow-moving excursion trains. Rails-with-trails can also provide a unique opportunity for connecting non-motorized transportation with public transportation, such as when a trail leads to a train station.


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