Rails-to-Trails, a nationwide trail advocacy group, has begun the nation’s first coast-to-coast trail, stitching together a series of existing trails in 12 states, including Iowa. At 3700 miles, the Great American Rail-Trail, as it will be called, spans from Washington, D. C. to Washington State. Over 52 % of the trail, or 1900 miles, is now complete with 125 existing segments. Another 90 segments need to be developed. A national campaign has been started to increase fundraising and complete the rail-trail within a few years.
The Rails to Trails Conservancy started in the 1980s as a thought from David Burwell and David Harnick who decided that recycling the abandoned railbeds was the right thing to do. Although small at its initiation, the concept grew steadily throughout the years. Once a number of converted trails began to line up, the idea of a single national trail was possible. Today it has reached beyond expectations. Over 50 million Americans will be within 50 miles of the Great American Trail as it will cross centrally-located states. Here in Iowa, the proposed route includes the Great River Trail and the Mississippi River Trail in the Quad Cities, the Hoover Nature Trail in eastern Iowa, the Cedar Valley Trail from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo, and the Cedar Lakes Trail in the Waterloo and Cedar Falls area. All of these lie within an easy driving 70 to 90-mile distance for Dubuque area residents. A map of the proposed trail can be found on Google Images under The Great American Rail Trail.
Follow this link to watch a video produced by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy: https://www.railstotrails.org/greatamericanrailtrail/ Donations can be given online. More information can be found online as well.