10 Beautiful Trips That Combine Bikes and Trains

A bike rests on a rock wall next to a gravel trail that passes under a tunnel built of stone
Missouri's Katy Trail is one of the longest bike trails in the United States that is accessible by train.

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Finding cycling routes that are accessible by train is a great way to extend your rides, avoid busy roads, and maximize the sights you can see. These rides start and finish near train stations, offering cyclists an easy, low-effort way to return to their starting point or continue traveling.

Many of these train-supported rides are short trips on paved or gravel pathways that are appropriate for families or novice riders. Longer rides, which can stretch into multi-day journeys, might include sections on quiet roads through the countryside. Though not as common, there are even some train-serviced mountain bike rides, which ascend into the wilderness on narrow, rocky trails. No matter your skill level and experience, getting to and from a ride using trains can add a unique element to any trip.

Here are 10 trips in beautiful locations that combine bike and train travel.

1
of 10

Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail

A bike path along a canal in a woodland landscape

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The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail is an 87-mile pathway from Cleveland to Bolivar in northeast Ohio. The Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad parallels the trail from Akron to Thornburg Station, a 31-mile stretch that passes through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The train is open to cyclists and their bikes, and offers eight different boarding stations where riders can finish their rides and return on the historic rail line. 

The towpath trail hugs the contour of the original Ohio and Erie Canal, a 308-mile canal used to transport freight before the railroad system was completed in the 1800s. Today, the trail passes numerous landmarks, including canal locks, bridges, museums, and villages. 

2
of 10

Danube Cycle Path

People riding bikes on a paved path next to a river

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The Danube Cycle Path is a long-distance bike path that follows the Danube River for about 745 miles, from Donaueschingen, Germany to Budapest, Hungary. Though some cyclists set out to complete the entire trail, many choose to do smaller sections. The path is most popular in Austria, which features 245 scenic miles serviced by local and long-distance trains. The trail passes through the cities of Vienna and Linz, as well as many small towns, villages, and miles of picturesque Austrian countryside. Most cyclists choose to ride west to east with the flow of the river, to take advantage of the natural incline and the prevailing flow of bicycle traffic.

3
of 10

Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail

A cycle path bridge passes over a river and continues out of sight into the forest

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Eastern Pennsylvania's Lehigh Gorge Rail Trail extends for 25 miles through vibrant woodlands next to the Lehigh River. A tourist train called the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway follows the trail, allowing cyclists to create a one-way ride rather than backtracking. Cyclists can board the train in the town of Jim Thorpe and disembark in White Haven after a one-hour journey on the historic railway.

The rail trail is mostly flat and follows the course of the Lehigh River through Lehigh Gorge State Park. Along the way, riders will cross bridges and trestles, and pass by swimming holes and scenic overlooks. While the train operates most days, it only offers the bike service as a special event, one weekend a month from May to November.

4
of 10

Walensee Bike Trails

A woman on a mountain bike descends a trail in the Alps

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Thanks to Switzerland's extensive railway system, mountain bikers can ride challenging singletrack trails in the Alps and find a train ready to shuttle them back to their starting point when the ride is over. A network of trails on the north side of Walensee, a scenic alpine lake, traverses the lower slopes of the Churfirsten Mountains and connects the towns of Ziegelbrücke and Walenstadt. It's a strenuous, 20-mile route, with long climbs and descents on rocky trails.

Trains provide service to both towns, offering a shuttle between the route's starting and ending points. Paved bike paths on the southern shore of the lake, meanwhile, provide a flatter, paved route of about 14 miles with the same easy train access.

5
of 10

The Katy Trail, Missouri

A gravel path extending into a forest, with wooden fences on both sides of the trail

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The Katy Trail is a multi-use pathway that extends 237 miles across Missouri. The mostly flat route follows Lewis and Clark's historic path up the Missouri River and traces its way through small towns and expansive farmland. Amtrak's Missouri River Runner line more or less parallels the Katy Trail from St. Louis to Clinton, Missouri, allowing cyclists to plan trips of varying lengths, using the train as a shuttle service. 

6
of 10

Great Allegheny Passage

Cyclists ride down a gravel pathway next to a canal in a forest

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The southernmost portion of the Great Allegheny Passage parallels the route of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad, creating a 15.5-mile stretch of trail that can be ridden one-way using the train as a shuttle. This section of trail, from Cumberland to Frostburg, Maryland, gains 1,300 feet of elevation, making the ensuing bike ride beginning in Frostburg a mostly downhill affair. The trail winds its way through forested landscapes and a 180-degree turn called Helmstetter's Horseshoe Curve before reaching its terminus in Cumberland.

7
of 10

Cinder Trail

A narrow pathway leads down to a coastal town in Yorkshire


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The Cinder Track is a 21-mile gravel pathway along the coast of Yorkshire, England. The towns of Scarborough and Whitby, where the trail begins and ends, both have train stations near the trail. The train journey is not a direct route between the two towns—in fact, the tracks of the now-defunct direct route were removed to create the trail—but the connecting trip through York only takes a few hours, and circumnavigates the North York Moors National Park. The trail, meanwhile, hugs the Yorkshire coast, with views of seaside bluffs, fishing villages, and the historic Scarborough Castle along the way.

8
of 10

Klondike Highway

A passenger train travels through a landscape of pine trees and snow-capped mountains

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The bike-train trip over White Pass is not on a cycling path, but a lonely stretch of the Klondike Highway straddling the United States-Canada border in Alaska and British Columbia. The road, which sees little traffic, is paralleled by the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, which runs historic locomotives from Skagway, Alaska, to Fraser Station, British Columbia. Along the 15-mile, mostly downhill return trip to Skagway, cyclists will see rugged mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, and glaciers. 

9
of 10

Baltic Sea Cycle Route

A yellow road sign above a gravel pathway in a forest

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The Baltic Sea Cycle Route, also known as Eurovelo Route 10, is a long-distance cycling route that circumnavigates the entire Baltic Sea. At nearly 5,600 miles, only a few intrepid cyclists have ever attempted the entire route, but tackling a shorter section is a great way to create a train-serviced ride of any length.

In Poland, cyclists can ride a 13-mile stretch of the Baltic route between Gdansk and Gdynia. The route here traces the coastline over rocky bluffs and through expanses of coastal woodlands. Train stations in the center of both cities offer easy access to the trail, which has both paved and gravel sections.

10
of 10

Columbia Plateau Trail

A bike trail uses a narrow bridge to pass over a dry canyon

Matthew Sneddon / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

In eastern Washington, the Columbia Plateau Trail follows an old railroad bed for 130 miles from Spokane to Kennewick. Luckily for cyclists, a modern railroad still exists here as well, with service from Spokane to Kennewick Amtrak's Empire Builder line. The long-distance train does not, however, offer any stops between the two cities, so cyclists planning a train shuttle should be prepared to ride the entire route.

The trail, which has some paved sections but is primarily gravel, winds through arid grasslands, bluffs and plateaus. The southern section hugs the banks of the Snake River, while a stretch crossing the Turnbull Wildlife Refuge, just south of Spokane, offers riders a chance to spot elk, wading birds, and moose.