The only sound in the crystalline mountain air was the crunch of our bicycle tires on the crushed limestone path. We’d pedaled around a bend, leaving behind the frothing Youghiogheny River and its whitewater rafters. Now, as we paused to split an orange, my husband and I looked down the path ahead of us, through the springtime trees just beginning to leaf out. The morning sun slanting between their narrow trunks striped the trail with parallel bars of light and shadow.
“Look,” Rick said suddenly. “What does that remind you of?” I saw what he meant, and laughed: “It’s the train tracks!”
The shadows formed a perfect echo of the long-abandoned railroad that once ran along this path, transporting coal and timber for western Pennsylvania’s thriving steel industry. Today, those tracks are gone, replaced by one of the finest achievements of the nation’s growing rail-trail network: the 141-mile Great Allegheny Passage, or GAP.
In July of 2006 a few of my friends joined me on an inaugural bike tour of West Virginia. I spent that winter planning a variety of routes through the Monongahela National Forest, and this would be our first of many weekend tours in the Mid-Atlantic Region. An early morning departure from the Pittsburgh area had us loading up the trailers high atop Spruce Knob . The starting point for this 60-mile mixed-touring loop was the Big Run/Allegheny trailhead off Route 112. Heading clockwise, we utilized forest roads, rail-trails, and paved roads. The reality of pulling our belongings behind us set in as we headed down the dusty and rolling forest road, quickly understanding why West Virginia is known as "The Mountain State." Soon we were treated to one of many mountain vistas. After rolling onto pavement (Route 28), we climbed over Allegheny Mountain and coasted into our campsite for the evening -- Island Campground , situated on the banks of the East Fork of the Greenbrier
have had some very fun excursions on rail trails , disused railways turned into pedestrian/bike paths. The trails typically go through very beautiful areas and rarely do you have to concern yourself with motorized traffic of any kind. Reader Will appears to be interested in rails as well, but he wants to ride on them - literally. Check it out - Will included the following text - A rail-bike is a bicycle that has been modified to be able to ride on the rails of a railroad. The front wheel has a device attached to it so that the bike won’t steer off the rail while an outrigger is used to support the bike using the other rail. I used conduit, cut up “razor” scooters parts, one bike fork two bits of steel and numerous nuts, bolts, washers and retaining pins. Nothing is welded. The hardest part is getting the spacing right so that friction and play are minimized. A lot of person hours certainly went in to this working model and the details are pretty amazing. [Keep re