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10 Best Rail Trails

6 Virginia Creeper Trail, Virginia
Abingdon to Whitetop (34 miles)
More than 100,000 people a year visit this southwestern Virginia trail. It's a glorious stretch from Abingdon, where a retired steam engine marks the trailhead, to Whitetop Mountain, the state's second-highest peak. In between: woods, waterfalls, and 36 trestles—including one that's (hang on!) 526 feet long.

STAY AT The Martha Washington Inn (150 W. Main St., Abingdon; 276/628-3161; www.marthawashingtoninn.com; doubles $325 for two nights, including breakfast), an 1832 estate, welcomes kids. At the no-frills Creeper Trail Cottages (on the trail at mile 16, Damascus; 276/492-6207; www.creepercottage.com; doubles $115), you can fish for trout in the river bordering the property.
RENT FROM In Damascus: Blue Blaze Bike & Shuttle Service (227 W. Laurel Ave.; 800/475-5095); Adventure Damascus Bicycles (128 W. Laurel Ave.; 276/475-6262).
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Catch a kids' show at Abingdon's Barter Theatre (276/628-3991; www.bartertheatre.com), or take a hike to see the wild ponies at Massie Gap in Grayson Highlands State Park (Rte. 58, near Volney; 276/579-7092).
TRIP TIP If you have a shuttle drop you at the high point of the trail in Whitetop, the 15 miles to Damascus sail by.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Go to www.vacreepertrail.org. Call the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau (800/435-3440) for the Guide to the Virginia Creeper Trail.

7 Capital Crescent Trail, Washington, D.C.
Georgetown to Silver Spring, MD. (12 miles)
You're in Washington, D.C., en famille. Need a break between museums and memorials?Hop onto this flat asphalt-and-crushed-stone trail overlooking the Potomac River and the C&O Canal. Joining you: biking and rollerblading capital commuters.

STAY AT In Georgetown, the Washington Plaza (10 Thomas Circle NW; 800/424-1140; www.washingtonplazahotel.com; doubles from $149) and the Latham Hotel (3000 M St. NW; 800/528-4261; www.thelatham.com; doubles from $189) both have outdoor pools. Adam's Inn (1744 Lanier Place NW; 800/578-6807; www.adamsinn.com; doubles from $115, including breakfast; additional guests $10 each) is five blocks from the Rock Creek rail trail, in northern D.C.
RENT FROM Better Bikes (202/293-2080; www.betterbikesinc.com) delivers bikes, locks, backpacks, helmets, and trail maps right to your hotel, or to the trail.
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Let the kids climb all over The Awakening, sculptures depicting an enormous man rising out of the earth, at Potomac Park (Hains Point; 202/485-9880).
TRIP TIP To avoid parking nightmares, bike to the trail from your hotel. Want to add a few more miles to your ride?This route connects with two other rail trails.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Contact the Coalition for the Capital Crescent Trail (www.cctrail.org) or the Washington Area Bicycling Association (www.waba.org).

8 Island Line Rail Trail, Vermont
Colchester to Burlington (13 miles)
The next best thing to walking on water?Riding on it. At its northern end, this bracing trail extends three miles into Lake Champlain on a narrow causeway. The southern section skirts the waterfront in bike-friendly Burlington.

STAY AT In downtown Burlington, try the 14-room Willard Street Inn (349 S. Willard St.; 800/577-8712; www.willardstreetinn.com; doubles from $135, plus $20 per child 13 and older). The Shore Acres Inn & Restaurant (237 Shore Acres Dr., N. Hero Island; 802/372-8722; doubles from $90) overlooks Lake Champlain. Pitch your tent or park your RV at North Beach Campground (60 Institute Rd., Burlington; 802/862-0942; sites from $21) for direct access to the trail.
RENT FROM In Burlington: North Star Cyclery (100 Main St.; 802/863-3832); Ski Rack (85 Main St.; 802/658-3313).
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Cruise the lake with Winds of Ireland (800/458-9301; www.windsofireland.com). For coneheads, the Ben & Jerry's factory (866/258-6877; www.benjerry.com), 26 miles from Burlington, offers tours and tastings.
TRIP TIP There are no services along the three-mile causeway, so bring snacks and make a pit stop before hitting that section.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Local Motion, a nonprofit cycling organization, operates the Trailside Center (1 Steele St.; 802/ 652-2453; www.localmotionvt.org/center) on the Burlington waterfront.

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