Rail trails are shared-use paths recycled from abandoned railway corridors. They can be used for walking, cycling and horse riding.
There are now rail trails all around Australia and in other countries too. Rail trails link big and small country towns and meander through scenic countryside just as railways did in the past.
Most trails have a gravel or dirt surface suitable for walking, mountain bikes and horses. Some are sealed and are great for touring bikes too.
Following the route of the railways, they cut through hills, under roads, over embankments and across gullies and creeks. Apart from being great places to walk, cycle or horse ride, rail trails are linear conservation corridors protecting native plants and animals. They often link remnant vegetation in farming areas and contain valuable flora and fauna habitat. Wineries and other attractions are near many trails as well as B&B’s and other great places to stay.
The rails are usually removed when a railway is closed, but remnants of the past such as railway cuttings and bridges still remain.
Every rail trail is different, but whether they are urban, rural or bush they all have one thing in common: gentle grades. Trains are not good at climbing hills. Railways avoid steep grades by contouring around hills, going through cuttings and over bridges. Some gradient profiles look steep but in reality they are never severe, except if the trail leaves the original railway alignment. On most railways, the steepest grades were 1 in 40, meaning the line would rise 1m in every 40.
Rail Trails Australia is a predominately volunteer, not-for-profit, organisation which works for the development and promotion of a rail trail network Australia-wide.
Rail Trails Australia is part of an international movement to develop and promote rail trails. Similar groups operate in other countries including the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom that are:
• Engaging the community in supporting trail development
• Advocacy to all levels of government
• Expanding and marketing the network
• Supporting committees of management
• Sponsoring conferences and workshops to enhance skills and assist new rail trail development
• Developing technical documents to assist groups setting up and maintaining rail trails publish Rail Trail Connections magazine for members and rail trail organisations.
Anyone can become a member of Rail Trails Australia or choose to donate to help support Australia’s trails. You can visit their website by clicking HERE.