In the early ’60s a small group of locals in southwestern Wisconsin decided to do something creative with their stretch of abandoned railroad. They opened a 32-mile thoroughfare between Elroy and Sparta and designated it a recreational path for bikers and walkers. More than 50 years later rail trails have become a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts and a focal point of urban renewal across the country.
Here are five of the best paved bike trails in New England. For the nearest trail to you, visit the Rail-to-Trail Conservancy site at www.railstotrails.org. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Stephen Jermanok can be reached at www.ActiveTravels.com.