To the editor:
A number of years ago, my wife and I did an Elderhostel bike trip on the Virginia Creeper rail trail in southwestern Virginia. The Virginia Creeper was a logging railroad, long ago abandoned, that ran roughly between Damascus and Abington, Va. It was a very pleasant 35-mile ride through mostly remote forest, crossing streams and rivers seemingly every half-mile. We hadn't realized until then how enjoyable rail trails could be. You can see much more than walking, and yet you are going slow enough to see what you are looking at. The smells and sounds of nature surround you. It is infinitely safer than road riding. It is very family friendly. And the most important fact (especially for hill-challenged riders) is that rail trails are almost dead flat. So why do I think the Adirondack Rail Trail would be better?
Firstly, we have the necessary infrastructure in place. We have the accommodations, restaurants, roads, outfitters, snowmobile service and park rangers already serving the vacationing public. It would be easy for them to slightly shift focus to serve trail users (not to mention the new jobs created). We have much more of an established vacationing population that would use the trail. We have the extra attractions that trail users would appreciate: Safari Water park, S.S. Durant, Sagamore, Adirondack Museum, Wild Center and Olympic venues. These could all be important side trips.
The second reason would be the trail itself. It would be wider and flatter than the Creeper trail, being converted from a main line and not a logging railroad. It would have a greater variety of habitat: open field, dense woods, ponds, streams and lakes. Each habitat has its own animal and plant populations, giving the trail users much more variety and catering to wider interest groups. The trail would have just few enough access points to make riding each section a "backwoods adventure."
I am sure that a few years after the Adirondack Rail Trail is opened, the Adirondacks will be known as the place to go if you like backwoods paddling, snowmobiling, hiking, camping, rock climbing or now biking. It's an important piece of the tourist menu. We should offer it.
Big Moose and Chagrin Falls, Ohio