A 2,900 Mile Trail You Haven’t Heard Of – The East Coast Greenway

The East Coast Greenway

Instead of a wilderness trail, how about an urban trail.  Not just a small trail either.  How about one that stretches all the way from Key West, Florida, to Calais, Maine, at the Canadian border – 2,900 miles.  That’s the idea that was born in 1991 and is growing to become the East Coast Greenway.

A Glimpse of the Greenway

The greenway currently connects almost two hundred trails with names and stories  like:

Overseas Heritage Trail: Stemming from a locally-inspired vision and master plan, the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail is a multi-use bicycle and pedestrian facility that serves as a recreational and alternative transportation corridor for the Florida Keys. Paralleling U.S. Highway 1, which is designated as a National Scenic Highway and All-American Road, this recreational pathway incorporates 23 of the historic Flagler Railroad bridges, offering a scenic venue for hiking, running, bicycling, skating, sightseeing, fishing and kayaking. There are camping opportunities available at some of the state parks and some private campsites.

Northbank Riverwalk

Northbank Riverwalk, Jacksonville , Florida

Jacksonville Northbank Riverwalk: The ever expanding Northbank Riverwalk along the St. John’s River is one of the most popular and well-used attractions in Jacksonville, Florida.  Visitors will see historic places, artwork along the trail and  be able to access the great things the city has to offer.

Marshes of Glynn Trail:  “The Marshes of Glynn” is one of Sidney Lanier’s poems featured in Hymns of the Marshes, an unfinished set of lyrical nature poems that describe the open salt marshes of Glynn County in coastal Georgia.  As you travel the Marshes of Glynn Trail you will be inspired as Lanier was when he wrote: “. . . sinuous southward and sinuous northward the simmering band of the sand beach fastens the fringe of the marsh to the folds of the land.”

Dismal Swamp Canal Trail: This multipurpose-linear nature trail in Chesapeake, Virginia, visits some of the most uniquely historical and ecologically-significant habitats in the United States. The Dismal Swamp Canal Trail is an historic, environmental and outdoor recreation delight. Open to walkers, hikers, boaters, bicyclists, and equestrians.

Tobacco Heritage Trail

Tobacco Heritage Trail

Tobacco Heritage Trail: Surrounded by unspoiled woods, tobacco farms that have been passed from one generation to the next and homey little towns, the Tobacco Heritage Trail is a path to your outdoor recreation and relaxation.  Explore the natural resources of this Southern Virginia rail-trail on horse, bicycle, or foot and journey back to the history and culture of a simpler time.

Delaware Canal State Park Trail: A walk along the 60-mile long towpath of Delaware Canal State Park is a stroll into American history. Paralleling the Delaware River between Easton and Bristol, this diverse park contains an historic canal and towpath, a 90-acre pond, many miles of river shoreline and 11 river islands. From riverside to farm fields to historic towns, visitors to Delaware Canal State Park will enjoy the ever-changing scenery along its corridor.

Delaware and Rarity Canal Trail: The 70-mile Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park is one of central New Jersey’s most popular recreational corridors for canoeing, jogging, hiking, bicycling, fishing and horseback riding. The canal and the park are part of the National Recreation Trail System. This linear park is also a valuable wildlife corridor connecting fields and forests.

Hudson River Walk

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway

Hudson River Waterfront Walkway: The walkway is a spectacular pathway on the western shore of the Hudson River in New Jersey.  The state has planned the Walkway to exist immediately adjacent to the river in a continuously connected 30 foot wide path from the tip of Bayonne to the George Washington Bridge.  The Walkway provides free access 24/7 for the enjoyment of the general public.

Farmington Canal Greenway: On the heels of the completion of the Erie Canal in New York State, a group of New Haven businessmen met in 1821 with the goal of constructing a canal in Connecticut to facilitate trade. Ground was first broken on July 4, 1825. It was completed in 1835.  Just 12 years after the canal was completed, a rail bed was laid to cover the same route the canal had traversed. Today, the Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway, a rail to trail conversion,  covers a route of approximately 84 miles from New Haven, CT to Northampton, MA. Over half has been developed as a paved trail for non-motorized recreation and commuting.

Hop River Trail:  This former railroad line is now a trail that winds 20.2 miles through the towns of Manchester, Vernon, Bolton, Coventry, Andover, and Columbia.  Like a pathway through time, this serpentine path passes among modern subdivisions and crosses roads, but mostly takes the trail user along a remote, quiet and long unused path through the eastern Connecticut countryside.

Blackstone River Bikeway

Blackstone River Bikeway

Blackstone River Bikeway: The path follows the Blackstone River in Massachusetts and Rhode Island wherever possible, including on the tow paths of the historic Blackstone Canal. This highly scenic bikeway crosses the river many times, offering views of waterfalls, marshes and wildlife. Many old mills line the river too, evidence of the impact of the Industrial Revolution that earned the Blackstone the title of the “hardest-working river in America.”

Charles River Bike Path: The Charles River Bike Path is a mixed-use path in the Boston, Massachusetts area. It follows both shores of the Charles River from Boston, Massachusetts to Norumbega Park in Newton, passing through Watertown and Waltham. The path consists of several segments in the Charles River Reservation separated by road and bridge crossings

Down East Sunrise Trail:  This trail project in Maine has rehabilitated 85 miles of the Calais Branch rail corridor for possible future rail use while at the same time providing a wide, compact gravel-based trail for immediate use. The trail is managed for the use of snowmobiles, ATV-ers, pedestrians, bicyclists, cross- country skiers, and equestrians.

The Developing System

You can walk the greenway today.  About 30% is on trails and the remainder along carefully selected roadways.  Ultimately the idea is to have the entire greenway off roads and on trails.  This linear park goes from urban area to urban area passing through the suburbs and the rural areas between them. Ultimately the Greenway will accommodate hikers, cyclists, wheelchair users, equestrians, skaters and skiers.  Initially, however, the emphasis is on providing a facility that will accommodate hikers and touring cyclists.  Get all the details and plan your trip at www.greenway.org.

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