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Rail Trails in Canada & Bike Trails

By touring - Posted on 04 July 2010

In the last century, the railway united the nation from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. Today, some of the abandoned branch lines make for excellent pathways known as rail trails. These trails are wide and flat as they follow the gentle grades of long-vanished locomotives. Most lines followed the natural corridors of the land near streams, rivers and ravines. With the tracks removed, the offer are scenic corridors where cars are prohibited.

These rail trails are unobstructed back-country routes between towns and cities that many nature-lovers will enjoy exploring. In the summer they are shared amongst cyclists, hikers, walkers and even equestrians. In the winter, snow-shoers, cross-country skiers and snow-mobilers make good use of these snow-covered corridors (most are not serviced in the winter). Because of their length, most rail trails are rarely crowded as there’s plenty of room to spread out.

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Looking for a Rail Trail near You?

Most are located on the edge of towns and cities next to existing roadways or rivers. Some, like the near Victoria,BC can take people into the heart of downtown while others, such as the start on the outskirts of town. Most of these defunct rail lines were decommissioned during the mid-1900’s and the vegetation has naturally returned. Keep your eye on the surrounding foliage as the rail trails attract a lot of wildlife. And remember that you are now a visitor in their home.

Rail trails vary in length and offer excellent day trips or multi-day treks. The longest one in Canada, the weaves for 270 kilometers across the entire province. You can plan an extended cycling trip by staying at the many accommodations in the quaint towns and villages along the route. Others, like the Rail Trail on the Kettle Valley Railway in BC, make for short walks through some spectacular engineering marvels.

These long pathways offer an easy escape into nature. Whether you’re a hiker, biker or even an equestrian, you’ll be amazed at the amount of planning and work that went into connecting this country. Today, you can enjoy the history and beauty as you discover the rail trails in Canada.

Start your rail trail adventure today.

Get more insider tips on Canadian Adventures at Scenic Travel Canada.

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