the Banks-Vernonia Railroad
As railroad lines fall into disuse (and as sad as that is) a wonderful movement has been sweeping the country the past 20 years. Old rail lines have been converted to hiking and cycling trails. The rails are pulled up, the roadbed smoothed out, and voila! Well, it isn't quite that easy, what with the dangerous high trestles (seen above) and the trees and brush that have to be cleared.
The Banks-Vernonia Trail is not far from my house and I have hiked on it many times. At first only a short portion was available for use, but now you can truly hike from the small town of Banks all the way to the smaller town of Vernonia. It's probably about 20 miles from end to end.
It used to be that when the trail came to one of the high trestles that you had to scramble down to walk below the trestle. It's too scary to walk across, and hikers weren't supposed to do that anyhow, for safety reasons. Now the trestles have had a floor and sides added to them so they are perfectly safe.
Casual cyclists love these trails because their grade is so gradual, which is what a railroad grade is. It's a major plus to be able to hike away from roads and to have views you don't get from the road. Outdoorsy people have flocked to the B-V Trail. Rails to trails is a fabulous idea. I hope to see more of our area's little used tracks converted over for hiking and cycling, including the Burlington line with its mile-long railroad tunnel.