Bike a New England Rail-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame Route

A cyclist rode on the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington.
A cyclist rode on the Minuteman Bikeway in Arlington.
Natalie Southwick for The Boston Globe

Why not bike a trail from the Rail-Trail Hall of Fame this season?

We have three of them in New England.

You’ll find more than 1,600 rail-trails encompassing 20,000 miles all across the country. The paths are exercise trails repurposed from defunct train tracks. But if you want to travel on the best of the best, visit a path listed in the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame. The three in New England are the Minuteman Bikeway in Massachusetts, Island Line in Vermont, and East Bay Bicycle Path in Rhode Island.

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The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy selects the trails based mostly on scenic value, how much they are used, trailside amenities, historical significance, community connections, and how well they are maintained.

The Minuteman Bikeway is an 11-mile asphalt rail-trail through suburban Boston. The ride is full of history as well as beauty. You will travel on the old Lexington & West Cambridge Railroad Line, right through where the Revolutionary War began in April 1775. The path connects Arlington, Lexington, and Bedford and leads you past the 100-acre Spy Pond as well as the Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. You’ll be delighted by views of forests, ponds, and lush wetlands but also have access to creature comforts such as convenient stores and water fountains. In 2000, the White House recognized the trail as superior by naming it a Millennium Trail.

You’ll find the Island Line in Burlington, Vermont. It was formerly known as the Burlington Bikeway. It’s comprised of 14 miles of asphalt and gravel that offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The trail also features a unique trip out over the lake on a marble causeway.

The Island Line Trail in Vermont.
The Island Line Trail in Vermont.
Dennis Curran

The 14-mile asphalt East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island will bring you along the shores of Narragansett Bay. The trail offers scenic views of Colt State Park in Bristol, Burr’s Hill Park in Warren and Haines Memorial State Park in Barrington. In Bristol, take a path located near the bike racks to the Rhode Island Audubon Society’s Environmental Education Center for a side adventure that includes nature walks, guided tours, an aquarium, and more.

Bikers on the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island. (Nicholas Millard)
Bikers on the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island.
Nicholas Millard

Find out about other spectacular rail-trails, several of them located in the Northwest region of the United States, in this Associated Press story.