Two days ago, one of those strange coincidences in life occurred to me. While I was pedaling my way south from Cleveland to Cincinnati, somehow I just happened to pass through the on-trail celebration for Great American Rail-Trail announcement during my three day, 367 mile journey. That celebration was held in conjunction with many across the United States – each commemorating the big reveal of the coast-to-coast rail-trail route.
The reason for the event along the Camp Chase Trail in Columbus, OH, was that the Great American will be using a large part of the Ohio-To-Erie trail as it traverses the state of Ohio.
While it won’t likely be completed for many years, when it is complete the trail will travel through 12 states and the District of Columbia, covering a total of more than 3,700 miles. Currently, about 1,900 miles of trail are already built with another 1,700 miles of trail gaps which will need to be filled to complete the route. However, you could technically ride the entire route right now by riding on the roads through the gaps for a coast-coast ride that would be around 50% rail-trail.
Like the Ohio to Erie trail, the existence of such routes offer a unique option for cyclists of almost any ability to dip their toes into the world of bicycle touring or bikepacking – without having to worry about vehicle traffic nearly as much as you would if it was all open roads. But the trails also offer the ability for those who live nearby to walk, run, ride, and use the trail in any number of ways for shorter trips as well (Rails to Trails estimates that there will be 50 million people living within 50 miles of the route when completed).
We’ll give this a few years to get more complete, and then maybe we’ll have to ride the full route ourselves…