Pedal through uplifting scenery on these car-free trails.
Follow Lewis and Clark’s route past bluffs along the Missouri River on the 240-mile Katy Trail, a former railroad corridor that’s the longest rail-to-trail in the United States. Day-trip one way by shuttle bus, or, for a longer jaunt, overnight off the route in the 19th-century Weinstrasse Cabins in Augusta. The trail is open year-round, but spring offers some of the best scenery, with blooming dogwood and redbud trees along the river. Between St. Charles and Boonville—part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail—stop for a closer look at a natural stone arch and view Native American rock paintings like those noted in Captain Clark’s 1804 journal.
The Route of the Hiawatha (open late May-Oct.) traverses 15 scenic miles of the Bitterroot Mountains, crossing seven former railroad trestles. (Even better: A shuttle service transports riders between the Pearson and Roland trailheads, so there’s no pedaling uphill.) Grab rental bikes fitted with lights at Lookout Pass Ski Area to navigate nine tunnels along the way, including the 1.7-mile Taft Tunnel, which crosses the Montana-Idaho state line.
Bikes are welcome on the ferry from San Francisco to Angel Island State Park, a former immigration station known as the Ellis Island of the West. Adult- and kid-size bikes are available on the island, but for trailers or tandems, stop by Blazing Saddles at Pier 41 before boarding the ferry. A five-mile lane rings the car-free island, where clifftop overlooks beckon for snack breaks and photo ops of the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge. Make time for a stroll on Quarry Beach, or a walk through the vine-covered ruins from the island’s early history as a military base.
Head to Governors Island National Monument (open weekends June 2-Sept. 30) for five miles of trails, including a 2.2-mile waterfront loop with views of the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty. Hop on a free ferry from Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building or Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park to get to the island, where families can play miniature golf on a themed course that changes each year, explore two 19th-century forts, and picnic among large-scale sculptures scattered throughout the island. Foursomes can rent a quadricycle—the bike equivalent of a minivan—for extra pedal power around the promenade.
Bike to the beach and the pier at Hunting Island State Park, a barrier island with ten miles of bike trails. Climb to the top of an 1870s lighthouse, search for shark teeth at low tide, then pedal the Marsh Boardwalk trail, where a dock overlooking a tidal creek is a favorite spot for watching sunsets.