Hi! I’m Dave. I ride rail trails all over Appalachia and the northeast United States, especially throughout the coal mining region.
In the 19th and early 20th century, railroads were the lifeblood of industry and transportation. But as the 20th century progressed, many of those railroads — and the industries they served — collapsed. The now-abandoned rails, bridges, and tunnels stood as unflinching monuments to the widespread economic hardships that followed.
For decades, this rail infrastructure sat neglected. Like countless patch towns across the region, they were largely written off and forgotten as the world moved past. But today, rail trails are taking off.
More and more communities are reclaiming these abandoned or disused lines to bring tourists back into town. Abandoned factories are being reborn as brewpubs. Company stores are reopening as B&Bs. Formerly vacant small-town downtowns are blossoming with restaurants, bike shops, and storefronts.
Rail trails are booming, and they’re taking their communities with them.
I started Appalachian Rail Trails to share my adventures along rail trails and the towns along the way. I live in the Appalachian region and most of my rides are in Appalachia, but I’ll go just about anywhere with a trail, tunnel, or bridge. When I’m not pedaling, I’m writing about coffee roasters, craft breweries, coal mine tours, festivals, and everything else that makes Appalachia unique.
My bike is a 2017-era Trek Verve 2 XL.
Photos come from my Samsung Galaxy S23 and my GoPro Hero 11 Black. Footage is mostly shot in linear 4K, 10-bit color, 120Mb bitrate, with horizon lock enabled. Editing is done through the GoPro Quik app. Side note: if you’re considering a GoPro, know that as of April 2023, the Android version of the Quik app is hot garbage. Any change in framerate, resolution, lens, or color profile will break editing. You’ll need to use the iOS version.
I use RideWithGPS to map all my rides.
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Tell Your Story
Does your Appalachian community or organization have a rail-trail-related story to share? Let me know! I love writing about history and things to do in trail towns in addition to my rail trail stories. For example:
- Are you opening a new business catering to trail users?
- Does your trail town have a festival coming up?
- Are you opening a new coal mine tour?
- Is a new segment of trail about to break ground?
- Has a rail trail made a positive impact on your community?