What is a Rail Trail?

Rail trails convert abandoned railways into walking trails.
Rail trails convert abandoned railways into walking trails.

A rail trail is the transformation of an abandoned railway path into a multi-purpose route that functions differently. The trail may be used for horse-riding, walking, and even biking. Rail trails are known for their features of passing through ancient regions, for being flat and elongated. Some abandoned railway tracks move through functional railways, and they are referred to as rails with trails. As much as rails are known for their flatness and length, there are exceptional rail trails that are short and are termed as linear parks and greenways.

Rail Trails around the World


The Bermuda railway was altered to a path in 1984. Part of the way was changed for automobile traffic while approximately 18 miles was set aside for pedestrians and cycling.


Canada is also known to host some rail trails which include, Prince Edward Island Railway which was abandoned in 1989 and was converted to a rail trail which functioned as a pathway for walking, and biking. The trail was also specially developed for snowmobiling during winter time. The Victoria railway in central Ontario which is 89 kilometers long is also a rail trail, and it serves as a leisure path and runs activities such as biking, walking snowmobiling in winter, and horse racing in spring.

United States

Merging of the rail business led to the termination and neglect of inefficient paths in North America. One of the railways that faced conversion was the Hot Springs Branch which is under improvement to become the Jackson River Scenic Trail. Another popular trail is the Elroy-Sparta state in Wisconsin. It was the first neglected rail passage in the United States that was transformed into a recreational track. In Georgia, the rail trail under progress is the Beltline and is expected to be complete in 2030. It is also anticipated to be the lengthiest continuous track. The Atlanta Beltline rail trail renovation is assumed to be a sustainable mission that will offer a multi-purpose path, a network of public parks, and transport along the rail passage linking many localities directly.


Germany is also rich in rail rails as it contains about 677 rail trails. Some of its most extended rail paths comprise the Maare-Mosel, Schinderhannes, and Ruwer Hochwald Radweg rail trails.


To add to the list of rail trails is Spain with rail trails that cover about 2,500 kilometers with a majority of the paths being used for biking and by pedestrians. Most of these abandoned lanes were previously developed for linking remote mountain areas with port sites, and for the mining trade.


Ireland is also considered home to many rail trails; it once had a large rail setup around mid-20th century that left the region with a massive network of deserted railways. There exist many neglected routes that are still untouched thus giving the choice of improvement of many trails. However, there is one main trail known as the Great Western Greenway which was finalized in 2011 while the Great Southern trail is also under creation.


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