Love bikes? Love trains? Why not combine the two into one awesome method of travel?
Bike rides are fun, but they're often cut in half by the number of miles that you'll need to travel to get back to your starting point. And unless you're a dedicated long-distance cyclist, that may not be very far.
Bike trips combined with a train ride let you double the fun and extend your trip further with the promise of a train ride to return you to your destination. That means that you'll not only get to travel farther, you will also get to enjoy some downtown with your companions, something that's not easy to do when you're traveling single-file on bikes.
Cyclists can bring their bikes aboard along many of Amtrak's regular routes throughout the country. The same holds true for many of the public commuter lines that run in and around the country's major metropolitan areas such as California's BART system, Washington D.C.'s Metro, or Chicago's "L." Be sure to check the website for the train on your preferred route — here's the site for Amtrak, for starters — to find out if it's accessible to cyclists and whether or not you'll need to reserve a spot for your wheels.
There are also a number of scenic bike-train combos that are perfect for cyclists of all ages and abilities. So grab your friends or your kids (or both) and head out to one of these fun destinations.
Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, Ohio
The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad parallels the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail with more than 85 miles running from Independence to Akron, Ohio. The railroad's Bike Aboard program allows bicyclists to ride any length of the bike path, more than 25 miles of which travels through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, before catching a ride back to their car via train.
Lehigh Valley Bike Train, Pennsylvania
Take in the scenic country of eastern Pennsylvania with a bike/train ride that takes you through the state's serene Lehigh Valley. You'll begin in Jim Thorpe and travel 25 miles via train to the entrance to Lehigh Gorge State Park. Along the way, you’ll see remnants of the canal, swim spots, scenic overlooks and railroad trestles. At the end of the line, you can hop on your bike and enjoy a leisurely ride back to your starting point.
Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, Maryland
"Let Mountain Thunder do the work," that's how Western Maryland Scenic Railroad describes this bike/train adventure on their website. If you're not familiar, 'Mountain Thunder,' is the vintage steam locomotive that ferries passengers and their bikes the 15.5 miles from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland (a 1,300-foot change in elevation.) After the ride, you'll enjoy a leisurely downhill cycling cruise back to your car.
The Katy Trail, Missouri
The Katy Trail is a multi-use bike path that extends 237 miles, stretching most of the way across the state of Missouri. The flat, scenic route follows Lewis and Clark's path up the Missouri River, and through small towns and farms in the heart of the USA. Amtrak's Missouri River Runner line more or less parallels the Katy Trail as it stretches from St Louis to Clinton, Missouri, making it easy for cyclists to roll on board Amtrak, travel as far as they want, and then cycle back to their cars.
White Pass and Yukon Route, Alaska
Experience the Northwest's rugged coastline with a bike-trail combo on the historic White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad. Ride the train to Fraser Station in British Columbia, Canada and then hit the trails for a 15 mile guided pedal from summit to sea back to Skagway in Alaska. Expect to see cascading waterfalls, glaciers, historic sites, and wildlife. And you'll even cross the border from Canada to the U.S. on your bike - so don't forget your passport!
Northstar Commuter Rail, Minnesota
Minneapolis' Northstar commuter train welcomes bike travelers to roll on board during their rides. Cyclists can start at the Target Field station in downtown Minneapolis and cycle to any one of the five stops along the 42-mile route to Big Lake, Minnesota before returning to their cars via the train. Along the way, you'll follow the Mississippi River Trail state bikeway from the hustle and bustle of the city to the bucolic splendor of the country.