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Mary Shaw and Roy Weil


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September 2001

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Rail-Trail Guides to Ohio and West Virginia

FreeWheeling Easy extends into Ohio, but it doesn't cover the whole state. For the rest, try the state guide

  • Biking Ohio's Rail Trails: Covers 24 rail-trails and similar trail suitable for biking. Descriptions include length, surface, uses, parking, points of interest, maps and 1-2 page narratives. Maps have blue highlighting. Order it from Amazon.com

West Virginia has a vigorous trail development program. Two of these books aren't available from Amazon.com, but you can check the West Virginia Rails-to-Trails web page for West Virginia bike shops that might carry them.

  • Adventure Guide to WV Rail Trails: Gives detailed description and highlighted topographic maps of 17 trails in the mountain state of West Virginia. Check your local bike shops for this one.
  • Rail Trails Along the Greenbrier River: Covers both the West Fork Trail (25 miles) and the Greenbrier River Trail (80) miles. Biking, hiking, horseback riding and cross country skiing opportunities are listed. Contains three maps of the West Fork Trail and nine maps of the Greenbrier Trail.
  • Mountain Biking in West Virginia: Order it from Amazon.com

Maryland has a handful of rail-trails, but the major cross-state trail is a close cousin -- the towpath of the former Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.

  • Tom Hahn's Towpath Guide to the C&O Canal is the definitive guide to the C&O Canal Towpath, which starts at Cumberland and completes the connection to Washington DC. Hahn identifies everything from even the most obscure culvert or waste weir to the names of the lockmasters who once served the canal--down to the hundredth of a mile. This is hardly surprising, for Hahn is an industrial archaeologist. It's definitely idiosyncratic, but a favorite for many. Amazon.com is showing it as out of print. Until it arrives there, get the new version from National Park information centers along the canal  for $16.00+s/h. It's revised every year or so.
  • Mike High's C&O Canal Companion is the new kid on the block. This guide is more contemporary, if less detailed, than Hahn's. It has less information about what you're seeing and more narrative about the historical context. We prefer it to Hahn's for an overview, but not as the book to have with us on the trip. Order it from Amazon.com

Rail-Trail Guides to other Eastern Areas

The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy publishes guidebooks that select 40 trails from a multi-state area. They emphasize narrative rather than full coverage, directions to trailheads, or amenities. Three of these are now available.

  • 40 Great Rail-Trails in the Mid-Atlantic (That's the states, not the middle of the ocean.) Order it from Amazon.com
  • 40 Great Rail-Trails in New York and New England.
  • 40 Great Rail-Trails in Michigan, Illinois and Indiana. Order it from Amazon.com

700 Great Rail-Trails: A National Directory: Gives general location, length, surface, and contact information for virtually all the trails that were open in 1996. With 700 trails in 133 pages, there isn't space for more information than that, but it's a comprehensive list that tells you where to get more information. Order it from Amazon.com

Rail-Trail Guides to Western Areas

If you're headed west, you'll find rail-trails there, too: Fred Wert's Washington's Rail-Trails covers trails in and around Seattle and across the state. Order Washington guide from Amazon.com He also wrote the Rail-Trail Guide to California. Order California guide from Amazon.com

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You are visiting FreeWheeling Easy in Western Pennsylvania, copyright 1998,1999,2000,2001 by Mary Shaw and Roy Weil. We encourage you to link to these pages or print copies for personal use. However, if you want to copy the material for any other use, you must ask us first. Other outdoor publications by the authors. Page updated 04/08/06 by Mary Shaw     Comments to maintainer.

As always we have made a serious effort to present accurate descriptions.  However we are human, trails change with time, and we occasionally receive incorrect information.  Therefore we can not be responsible for discrepancies between these descriptions and actual trail conditions.   Use common sense, judgment and be careful out there.