The 6 Best Bike Paths in America

A patchwork of diverse landscape and microclimates, America abounds with breathtaking bike routes for riders of all ages and abilities. But spectacular scenery is often just one facet of the multisensory experience. We’ve done the legwork and found six picture-perfect peddling paths that also yield the bonus of unique terrain, local culture, and history.

Mountain Trail

Hiawatha Trail, Mullen, Idaho: This 15-mile, all-downhill route spans the Idaho-Montana state line, routing riders through ten tunnels and seven high-country trestle crossings, offering views of plunging waterfalls and the craggy Bitterroot Mountains.

Coastal Trail

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, Anchorage, Alaska: Eleven paved miles of riding from downtown Anchorage to glacial parklands offer breathtaking views of arctic tundra, Cook Inlet’s salt marshes, moose, bald eagles, beluga whales, and sweeping vistas of North America’s highest peak, Denali.

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”
—John Muir

River Trail

C&O Canal Trail, Cumberland, Maryland: The 184.5-mile dirt-forest road, spanning western Maryland to Georgetown, includes 11 aqueduct crossovers, 74 lift-locks, the 3,118-foot Paw-Paw tunnel, the Potomac River flanked by dense woodlands, and historic towns, including Harpers Ferry. Lodge at cyclist-friendly B&Bs along the route.

City-to-City Trail

American River Bike Trail, Sacramento-Folsom, California: A 32-mile paved path takes you from Sacramento’s Discovery Park to Folsom Lake past the American River, through riparian woodlands, over scenic overpasses, and across the Guy West Bridge (a small-replica Golden Gate Bridge), with a chance to view local wildlife, like quail, coyotes, and river otters.

Tropical Trail

Shark Valley Trail, Miami, Florida: On this 15-mile paved loop through the Florida Everglades, there are gators, gators everywhere! You’ll also find great blue and tricolored herons, turtles, fish, and millipedes, all inhabiting freshwater swamps, sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests, and gumbo-limbo trees.

Historic Trail

Underground Railroad Bicycle Route, Mobile, Alabama, to Owen Sound, Ontario: A diverse array of topographies and milieus along both bucolic bike lanes and urban tracks await you one this 2,006.5-mile trail that offers many access points. Stop in at historic monuments, markers, safe houses, and significant homes, including Cincinnati’s Harriet Beecher Stowe House.

This article appears in the March/April 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.