Only on the Web: Recommended food stops along the 10 highlighted trails
THE ESSENTIALS Since 1965, more than 1,200 trails have opened on former railways nationwide, drawing bikers—along with hikers, bladers, and wheelchair users—in droves. No wonder: the paths are often flat (so even fledgling riders can get rolling) and almost always scenic (mountains! rivers! bridges!). Here, our guide to the 10 routes featured on our map. For other options, go to www.traillink.com, a service of the Washington, D.C.-based Rails-to-Trails Conservancy.
1 Bizz Johnson Trail
Susanville to Westwood, California (30 miles)
Start at the 1927 train station in Susanville, 208 miles northeast of San Francisco, and don't stop until you see the 25-foot-tall statue of Paul Bunyan watching over the Westwood trail-head. You'll slice through forests of fir and pine, and crisscross the Susan River Canyon—bridges and trestles take you over the water 12 times.
STAY AT In Susanville, the Roseberry House (609 North St.; 530/257-5675; www.roseberryhouse.com; suites from $99, double, additional guests $25 each), a 1902 Victorian B&B, is near the trail, as is the Best Western Trailside Inn (2785 Main St.; 800/780-7234; www.bestwestern.com; doubles $69).
RENT WHEELS FROM The Susanville Railroad Depot Trailhead Visitor Center (601 Richmond Rd.; 530/257-3252; open May-October) has bikes, maps, and shuttle schedules—and an old caboose to climb around in. Also in Susanville: the Bike Station (702 Main St.; 530/257-2525) and Bicycles Etc. (801 Cottage St.; 530/257-0711).
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Latter-day lumberjacks (and jills) can see photos and artifacts from the heyday of logging at the tiny Westwood Museum (311 Ash St.; 530/256-2233).
TRIP TIP For a less strenuous ride, take a shuttle to Westwood and head east (downhill). Or try the easy 14 miles from Susanville to Devil's Corral and back; you'll still hit eight bridges and two tunnels.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact the visitors' center in Susanville (see above) or the Bureau of Land Management (530/257-0456; www.ca.blm.gov/eaglelake), which is responsible for the trail.
2 Lake Mineral Wells State Trailway
Mineral Wells to Weatherford, Texas (20 miles)
You may want to strap on chaps and don a Stetson before saddling up. This gentle canter, 40 miles west of Fort Worth, passes horse ranches, wildflower meadows, and pastures where longhorns graze. Be on the lookout for bison, bobcats, and white-tailed deer.
STAY AT The Dancing Oaks Ranch (940/374-3804; www.dancingoaksranch.com; cabin with full kitchen from $150), outside Weatherford, offers horseback-riding lessons and trail rides. Lake Mineral Wells State Park (940/328-1171; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/lakemine; tent sites from $11, plus $3 per person 13 and older) has fishing, swimming, and cowboy-themed concerts.
RENT FROM Bluebonnet Bicycle Adventures (Mineral Wells; 940/327-8000).
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE The local waters have been touted for their curative properties since the 1800's. Test them yourself on a tour of the Famous Well Water Co. (940/325-8870).
TRIP TIP To use the trail you need a pass ($2 per adult), on sale at entry points.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (940/328-1171; www.tpwd.state.tx.us/park/lakemine).