No need to be a hard-core cyclist to embark on a long-distance two-wheeled tour of America’s East Coast.
Pedal for pleasure past cranberry bogs, rivers, the Eastern Continental Divide, and more along these three stand-out bike trails:
> Swamp Rabbit Trail (South Carolina):
Opened in 2009, the 18.7-mile Greenville Health System trail in the foothills of upstate South Carolina winds from Greenville‘s downtown along the Reedy River to the small town of Travelers Rest. Formerly an old railbed, the multiuse greenway is beloved by residents, including Tour de France veteran cyclist George Hincapie.
> Great Allegheny Passage (Pennsylvania and Maryland):
More than 35 years in the making, the 150-mile GAP opened in 2013, linking the onetime rail route between downtown Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Maryland, with a nearly level crushed limestone path. Pedal past forests, farms, and parks, crossing the Eastern Continental Divide and the Mason-Dixon Line. For long-haul bikers, there are campsites along the way, and inns within a quick detour.
Not long enough? Ride an additional 185 miles to Washington, D.C., on the C&O Canal towpath.
> Cape Cod Rail Trail (Massachusetts):
Forged by the Old Colony Railroad Company in 1848, the Massachusetts route from Boston to Sandwich—and later, to the tip of the peninsula—popularized Cape Cod among New Englanders. The railroad is long gone, save for 22 miles of the corridor from Dennis to Wellfleet that has been repurposed as a bike trail.
Ride from village to village, passing cranberry bogs, salt marshes and pine forests. Go the extra mile beyond the trail’s end to Maguire Landing Beach for an ocean swim.
This piece, written by Margaret Loftus, first appeared in the August/September 2015 issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.