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Long-distance trails (or long-distance tracks, paths, footpaths or greenways) are the longer recreational right-of-way routes mainly through rural areas, used for non-motorised recreational travelling (walking, backpacking, cycling or horse riding).

Any route named as a "trail" (or "way", in the UK) will probably be marked, or identified on a map, but it will usually only be described as "long-distance" if it takes the average user more than one day to travel from end to end. Typically, a "long distance" trail, way or path will be at least long, but some in Britain are several hundred miles long, and many in the US are much longer.

In some countries, official "trails" will have the surface specially prepared to make the going easier.

In the UK long-distance paths are simply existing rights of way (over private land) "joined together" (perhaps with specially-negotiated linking sections) to make a named route. Generally the surface is not especially prepared (which can come as a surprise to walkers from abroad, who find their distance-covering estimates need to be rethought to take rough ground into account) except in special places such as converted rail tracks, or some "busy" hilly areas where stone slabs are laid to prevent erosion.

Types of long-distance trails

Bicycle trails

These are used by bicyclists. Some are restricted to use by only non-motorized bikes while others are multi-use recreational (hiking, horseback riding, jogging, rollerblading or walking). Bike trails can range in length from under a mile to hundreds of miles, such as the EuroVelo routes, Australia's Munda Biddi Trail or Bike Trails in North America.

Canal system trails

These follow canal systems. A good example is the long New York State Canal System in New Yorkmarker.

Coastal trails

These follow coastlines of which good examples are the South West Coast Path and the Isle of Wight Coastal Pathmarker in Englandmarker, and the Otter Trail in South Africa. A shorter example is the Gold Coast Oceanway in Australia.

Coast-to-coast trails

These may be cross-country paths, or may follow roadways, or other ways, and often intersect with many other trails in the process. A good example is the Coast-to-Coast path in northern England, which - despite being perhaps the most famous long-distance walking route in England - is not an official National Trail, simply a series of connected pre-existing rights of way, roads and open country with some informal links between them.

The American Discovery Trail crosses the continental United States from east to west. The Iditarod Trail, at over 1,000 miles, spans Alaskamarker and connects the coastal cities of Sewardmarker and Nomemarker. The 220-mile (350 km) Michigan Shore-to-Shore Trail crosses the state from the one Great Lakes shore to another.

Mountain trails

Long distance mountain trails are of two broad kinds, linear trails and loop trails.Notable linear examples include the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail.Notable loop examples include the Tahoe Rim Trail, the Wonderland Trail, which encircles Mount Rainiermarker, and the Tour du Mont Blanc, which passes through the Alps of Francemarker, Switzerlandmarker, and Italymarker. The first long-distance hiking trail in the US was created in 1910 and named The Long Trail.

National Trails

National Trails are a network of well-maintained and well-waymarked routes across England and Wales. Examples are the Pennine Waymarker, and the South West Coast Path. The equivalent routes in Scotland are Long Distance Routes such as the West Highland Way.

Peninsular trails

The Kerry Way in south-west Irelandmarker circumnavigates the highest mountain range in Irelandmarker. Along with the adjoining Dingle Way it is noted for its scenic views of the Atlanticmarker, loughs and mountains.

Cross-country trails

Among the longest are;

Cross-continent trails

Among the longest is the European walking route E8.

Rail trails

Rail trails are trails on old railway rights of way. There are two major kinds, rails to trails and rails with trails. In the UK rail trails generally are rather short; an example is the Longdendale Trailmarker. In the US rail trails generally are among the longer trails apart from the major cross-continent trails.

See also



References


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