More Than Half of the Epic Bike Trail, Which Will Stretch Across the United States, Has Been Completed

The Great American Rail-Trail will connect more than 145 existing bike paths.

Biking on a Mountain
Photo: Daniel Milchev/Getty Images

More people are spending time exercising outdoors during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the most exciting developments for avid cyclists has been news of The Great American Rail-Trail, a bike trail that will run from Washington, D.C., to Washington state's coast and connect more than 145 exiting bike paths all across the continental United States. So far, Rails to Trails has received $18,400,000 from public and private funds and has developed trails in 10 out of 12 of the states along the route.

"This year has proven how vital projects like the Great American Rail-Trail are to the country. Millions of people have found their way outside on trails as a way to cope with the pandemic," said Ryan Chao, president of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, in a statement. As more and more people avoid public transportation and cancel gym memberships due to the pandemic, cycling—which serves as both a form of physical exercise and a means to get from point A to point B—has never been so important.

The bike trail will connect Maryland, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington. As of today, more than 53 percent of the trail has been completed. "As the Great American Rail-Trail connects more towns, cities, states, and regions, this infrastructure serves as the backbone of resilient communities, while uniting us around a bold, ambitious, and impactful vision," said Chao.

The Great American Rail-Trail isn't the only ambitious bike trail that's currently under construction. Similar projects have emerged in countries such as Belgium, England, China, Italy, and Argentina. This comes as good news for bikers, since health experts tout the many benefits of cycling—it provides a good aerobic workout, is easy on the joints, builds muscle, and increases bone density. Plus, many say being in nature or near blue spaces can help alleviate feels of depression and stress, two emotions that have been heightened for many during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Whether bridging gaps within and between communities, creating safe walking and biking access to jobs, transit, shopping, and green space; or serving as recreation for cyclists, runners, and casual daily explorers, this will be America's trail," said Chao.

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