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Families everywhere are searching for a way to celebrate the Fourth of July that includes fun, energizing activities and time spent with family and friends—minus the hectic crowds, staggering gas prices and time-wasting traffic. Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s (RTC) list of top 10 “Fourth of July Rail-Trails” features pathways that are perfect for recreation, transportation and firework-viewing on the most patriotic day of the year. Want to avoid traffic and gas-price blues getting to the nation’s fireworks in Washington, D.C.? Bike down the 11-mile Capital Crescent Trail. Looking to walk off the calories after the big cook-out? Visit the lake along the 22-mile Betsie Valley Trailway in Michigan. Searching for a unique overlook point to watch the fireworks? We recommend the Mount Lowe Railroad Trail high above Los Angeles County, Calif. With more than 1,500 rail-trails across the country, families everywhere can enjoy a recreational July Fourth, and explore the rail corridors that helped shape our country. More than a century ago, the first railroads helped drive westward development and settlement across the United States. These tracks are deeply rooted in American soil and tradition, and this year, as we prepare to commemorate our nation’s birth, RTC has compiled a list of rail-trails across the country that are ideal for re-visiting that history and celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. For maps, directions, pictures and descriptions of each of the trails on our list, as well as the other 1,490 rail-trails in America, please visit, RTC’s one-stop rail-trail search engine. Here is our selection of the most festive rail-trails for Independence Day: 1. Minuteman Bikeway—Boston The American Revolution started along this historic corridor, so get out the bikes and take a ride along this 10-mile history lesson. Located in Middlesex County in Massachusetts, the Minuteman takes you through the suburbs of Boston and, along the way, passes historical sites of the Revolutionary War. The rich history of the Minute Man trail makes it the place perfect place to celebrate America’s birthday. Location: Alewife Length: 10.4 miles Surface: Asphalt 2. Island Line—Burlington, Vt. The Island Line rail-trail is perfect for family fun and travel to Burlington’s patriotic festivities. The Island Line leads you through quaint parks where a midday 4th of July picnic is perfect, and coasts the waterfront for miles where the fireworks can be seen during Burlington’s Independence Day Celebration on July 3. Not looking to make a day of it? Take Island Line to Burlington’s Waterfront Park where the firework show is held, just don’t forget to pack your head lamps and flashers for safe night riding. Location: Burlington to Colchester Length: 12 miles Surface: Asphalt 3. Capital Crescent Trail—Washington, D.C. Commute to the Capital’s own fireworks show without the hassle of crowds or parking. This 11-mile trail takes you through the peaceful woods of Silver Spring, Md., and leads you to the historical community of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. With so much to do in the nation’s capital during the 4th of July, the Capital Crescent is the perfect trail get to the District’s spectacular celebration. Location: Silver Spring, Md., to Washington, D.C. Length- 11 miles Surface: Asphalt, Gravel, Crushed Stone 4. Katy Trail—Dallas The Katy Trail stretches 3.7 miles in the heart of Dallas where the 4th of July celebration goes all day long. Located a few blocks away from multiple DART rail stops, the Katy Trail is a great trail for families from all over Dallas to spend quality time together. Hop on to this urban rail-trail and pack a picnic to have in Reverchon Park, or explore the trendy Victory Park area. Location: Dallas Length: 3.7 miles Surface: Crushed stone, concrete 5. Mount Lowe Railroad Trail—Pasadena, Calif. Mount Lowe Railroad Trail is not for the timid traveler, but the views along this trail are worth the hike. The trail overlooks the expanse of Pasadena, where the 4th of July celebration is one of the largest in Southern California. Get above it all for a unique vantage point and avoid the crowds, but be prepared to burn some calories and drink a lot of water. This strenuous trail is for the avid mountain biker or the enthusiastic hiker. Location: Lower Sam Merrill Trail to Echo Mountain to Mt. Lowe Trail Camp Length: 8 miles, round trip Surface: Ballast, dirt 6. Burke-Gilman Trail—Seattle To help the urban dweller avoid the crowds, the Burke-Gilman Trail is a great commuting route to get to Gasworks Park, where Seattle hosts the largest fireworks show in the area. Take some time beforehand to explore the beautiful Lake Union district before the pyrotechnic extravaganza begins. Location: Bothell to Seattle Length: 17 miles Surface: Asphalt 7. Betsie Valley Trailway—Beulah, Mich. Looking for a wet and wild 4th of July? The Betsie Valley Trailway in Michigan is perfect for you. The trail rides through the town of Beulah, which rests on the southeast shore of Crystal Lake. Stop off for a dip at Crystal Lake before heading into town to watch the parade, and participate in the 5k footrace, games, food and more. Wrap up your day with the Beulah fireworks show. Location: Frankfort through Beulah to Thompsonville Length: 23 miles Surface: Asphalt, crushed stone 8. Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail—St. Petersburg, Fla. Check out the new trail extension by commuting to the St. Petersburg fireworks display. Spend the afternoon at St. Pete Beach and pack a dinner picnic so you can save your spot. The city-sponsored fireworks are visible from the beachfront. Location: Tarpon Springs to St. Petersburg Length: 34 miles Surface: Asphalt 9. St. Anthony Heritage Trail (Stone Arch Bridge)—Minneapolis Celebrate Minneapolis’ “Red, White and Boom” event on the Stone Arch Bridge, a perfect place to catch the fireworks display. The Stone Arch Bridge connects to the St. Anthony Heritage Trail, a bike and pedestrian bridge perfect for watching the fireworks event. Come early to catch musical performances, entertainment and summer foods. Location: Minneapolis Length: 1.8 miles Surface: Asphalt, concrete 10. Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail—Monterey, Calif. The 7-mile Monterey Peninsula Recreational Trail is a rail-trail that stretches from Pacific Grove to Seaside. The trail links a few different beaches and marinas together with plenty of places to spot whales, sea lions, go fishing, rent kayaks, jet skis and more. Head into town for the Backyard Bar-b-cue and lawn party and finish off the day with the annual fireworks display over the bay. Location: Pacific Grove to Seaside Length: 7 miles Surface: Asphalt ### Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a nonprofit organization with more than 100,000 members and donors, advocates for healthier lifestyles by creating a nationwide network of public trails, many from former rail lines and connecting corridors. Founded in 1986, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s national office is located in Washington, D.C.
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