Epic 3,700-mile nature trail will one day allow you to hike coast-to-coast

An ambitious new plan will one day allow you to walk coast-to-coast.

May 09, 2019, 1:18 PM

Outdoor enthusiasts rejoice. An ambitious, historic new plan will one day allow you to run, bike or even rollerblade coast-to-coast.

Rails to Trails Conservancy (RTC) unveiled its 3,700-mile off-road trail this week. When fully completed, the “Great American Rail Trail” will become the nation’s first cross-country multi-use trail.

PHOTO: Montana Headwaters Trail; will be part of Great American Rail Trail
Montana Headwaters Trail; will be part of Great American Rail Trail
Gene Townsend & Scott Stark via Rails-to-Trails Conservatory

The trail will travel from Washington D.C. through 12 states: Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington.

RTC settled on the entirely bikeable and walkable route after a 12-month analysis of more than 34,000 miles of existing multi-use trails.

More than half of the trail -- 1,900 miles -- is already complete, with much of it consisting of old railroad track.

RTC president Ryan Chao told ABC News that “the route consists of 125 truly beautiful existing trails. Some of the most iconic rail trails in our country.”

PHOTO: Nebraska Cowboy Trail; will be part of Great American Rail Trail.
Nebraska Cowboy Trail; will be part of Great American Rail Trail.
Nebraska Tourism Commission via Rails-to-Trails Conservatory

New segments are expected to be finished every year and, when complete, the trail will serve an estimated 50 million Americans.

“We believe that trails connect people with the outdoors, each other and our communities in very powerful ways," Chao said.

RTC wants 90% of the trail to be located away from roads -- and therefore cars -- with the eventual goal of 100%.

PHOTO: Trail of the Coeuer d'Alenes in Idaho; will be part of Great American Rail Trail
Trail of the Coeuer d'Alenes in Idaho; will be part of Great American Rail Trail
Lisa James via Rails-to-Trails Conservatory

Right now, RTC says it may take decades to fully complete the trail, but that could change.

The beginning of the route is the only fully complete section. The nearly 208-mile stretch starts on the steps of the United States capitol in Washington D.C. and heads through Maryland.

For a map of the rest of trail, and more information click on the above video.

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