Cycling is one of the best forms of exercise available, building strength and muscle tone throughout the body. Regular cycling strengthens leg muscles, improves hip mobility and provides cardiovascular benefits. In addition, cycling on natural trails helps reduce stress as you take in the sights of nature while getting a good workout from the bike. The United States, according to Outdoor Traveler, has many excellent options for biking that give a view of nature many people don’t normally get to enjoy.
Allegheny Highlands Trail
Located in West Virginia, the Allegheny Highlands Trail follows the route originally created by the West Virginia Central and Pittsburg Railway built in 1884. It is 24.5 miles long and travels through the West Virginia countryside. The trail has panoramic mountain views as well as expanses of rural farmland and the small towns that dot the path. It crosses the Shavers Fork Rover on the restored Western Maryland Railroad bridge and through Mill Race Park.
Baltimore and Annapolis Trail
The Baltimore and Annapolis Trail gives you a physical workout as well as intellectual exercises. It is a paved, 13-mile community trail that offers cyclists a look back into history. It follows the Annapolis and Baltimore Shore Line in the state of Maryland that began running freight and passenger service in 1880. It passes Marley Station and the Earleigh Heights Ranger Station. There are several small parks along the trail, including Severna Park with a local bike shop, Pedal Pushers, that caters to trail riders. Near Harundale Mall, the Planet Walk offers a linear museum with educational displays on the solar system. The planets are true to scale and offer educational information.
Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail
The Bizz Johnson National Recreation Trail is in Lassen County, California, between Westwood and Susanville. It travels through the woodlands of high country to the Susan River Canyon with many historic sites along the way. The landscape is a mixture of canyon and forest with the opportunity for camping along the trail. If possible, plan your ride around the Lassen Land and Trails Trust’s Annual Rails to Trails Festival which occurs the Saturday of Columbus Day Weekend at the Susanville Depot.
Elroy-Sparta State Trail
The history of this Wisconsin bike trail is as interesting as the trail itself. Countless numbers of cattle were transported along the Elroy-Sparta State Trail to the Chicago Stockyards along with other goods from Minnesota, northern Iowa and the Dakotas. Passenger and freight trains passed daily through the three historical tunnels and over 34 bridges. The 32-mile trail is the oldest in th estate and is an easy ride between Elroy and Sparta. The trail is a hard-packed, crushed limestone base, and by combining the La Crosse River State Trail, 400 State Trail and Omaha Trail, cyclists can piece together an enjoyable 100-mile rail-trail adventure from the Mississippi River to the heart of cheese country. One of the most interesting aspects of the trail is Tunnel #3, located nine miles from Sparta. It is more than ten football fields long and completely dark. Without lights, the tunnel is completely impassable, which is why seasonal kiosks on either side sell flashlights. Tunnel #2 between Norwalk and Wilton has giant 20-foot doors that were opened and closed between trains to keep snow from accumulating inside in the winter. Look for the small doorway-sized indentations in the walls near the doors where the tunnel watchman sat, opening and closing the doors up to 50 times each day.
These are just a sampling of the many beautiful cycling trails available in the United States where cyclists can enjoy the great outdoors while building muscle and strength.
What’s your favorite cycling tail in the US?