Great American Rail-Trail

The Pedalshift Project 152: The Great American Rail-Trail

The Great American Rail-Trail, a bold project recently launched by Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, is a proposed network of nearly 4000 miles of off-road trails linking Washington, DC to the outskirts of Seattle, WA. On this episode, we chat with Kevin Mills of RTC to get the scoop on this exciting project and what to expect in the years to come.

The Pedalshift Project 152: The Great American Rail-Trail

Hey it’s the direct download link for  The Pedalshift Project 151: Preparing the Cross-Florida Bike Tour (mp3).

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The Interview: Great American Rail-Trail

Kevin Mills is Senior Vice President of Policy of the Rails to Trail Conservancy where he shapes and oversees RTC’s policy agenda, including federal and state legislation and rulemaking, grassroots movement building, program initiatives and research. With an expert knowledge of the political relationships and maneuvering that influences the outcomes of Capitol Hill, Kevin is a national leader in the effort to ensure trails, biking and walking remain key elements of America’s transportation policy. Read more about Kevin’s work at
What is the Great American Rail-Trail?
What prompted the selection of the gateway trails that are forming the backbone of the larger network?
Why is a shorter trail like the Capital Crescent a gateway trail, but a larger one like the Great Allegheny Passage is not?
According to the RTC press release, a more precise route is planned for release this spring. Does this include on-road connections between the gateway trails? Are additional trails between the gateway trails likely to make the spring route release?
The press release notes the route is 50% complete. Is there a goal date for full off-road completion of the Great American Rail-Trail? If not, are there smaller benchmarks you can share for future links between gateway trails (i.e. connecting the Panhandle Trail to the OTET)?
A lot of excitement out there:
ACA on twitter this morning”Even if it takes decades to complete, this trail will be a treasure for the US”
REI… “incredible… we can’t wait to ride it”
The former is an important constituency group that would use the trail, the latter a corporate retailer that would potentially benefit a lot in sales from people looking to bike the trail Are you looking into corporate sponsorships as a vehicle for connecting these trails up?
What are the prospects for federal funding/BUILD grants and how would that impact completion?
Any lessons learned from our friends up north with their equally bold Great Trail project?
I understand you’re an avid cyclist yourself – what parts of this trail have you biked and which ones are on your list to hit next?
What is the best way to get involved and support the Great American Rail-Trail?

Pedalshift Society

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like my upcoming XFL trip this winter! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

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