What is a Rail Trail?

You probably think that lots of trails are too aggressive for a family to hike or walk. When someone mentions “hiking”, your mind goes to an image from a Northface commercial. But the truth is that there are thousands of miles of trails that are accessible to almost everyone. 

Our TRAIL FAMILY lives in an amazing little town in northeastern Pennsylvania. One of the lovely features of our small town is that there is a Rail-Trail that runs right through it. In fact, our town trail head is called “The Northern Gateway to Anthracite Country”. Anthracite is a hard form of coal used for burning. This area of the country has a rich coal mining history.

The old train bridges are one of our favorite features of the D&H Rail-Trail

Where does the “rail” part come into this? The coal had to get moved to the surrounding areas somehow. That’s where the railroad system comes in. The rail and coal industries experienced a boom around the same time because they were mutually beneficial. 

The Rail-Trails are perfect for family hiking and biking…

The Rail-Trails are perfect for family hiking and biking because there is a very gentle grade of incline. These trails are in place of the old train tracks. There is no more than a 5% incline on any part of our local trail, the D&H Rail-Trail.

You may have read our previous posts about how our girls went bonkers for bike riding this summer! The rail-trail was a perfect place for them to learn, and to build endurance for longer rides. We weren’t taking any steep hills while they worked up to going nine or ten miles in one trip. 

A smooth, even ride on the rail trail

The trails also connect our small town to other small towns just as the trains did way back when. We have taken family rides to get ice cream, snacks, and even breakfast. We could even ride to Shannon’s parents’ house two towns over. These are experiences that will make up our kids’ precious childhood memories. 

Little man can snooze while he rides along

We attribute so much of our ability to cultivate the TRAIL FAMILY lifestyle in our own family to living so close to the D&H Rail-Trail. We encourage you to find the trails close to you.

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Categories hiking, outdoors, TravelTags , , , , ,

2 thoughts on “What is a Rail Trail?

  1. Well, Tim, you’ve pretty much encapsulated what rail trails are about. Last I heard there were over 80,000 miles of recreational Nirvana out there thanks to visionaries and volunteers since the 1980s. Biking For those of us who are in our 80’s would be impossible without them. I have been fortunate enough to ride many along the entire East coast. Keep up the good work and good luck to you!

    1. Thanks so much! We are looking forward to exploring more rail trails as well. They are such a great repurposing of the paths already carved out for the railroads. Good luck to you as well. Happy riding!

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