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10 Best Rail Trails

9 Switchback Railroad Trail, Pennsylvania
Jim Thorpe to Summit Hill (18 miles)
Head for the former mining town of Jim Thorpe, in the western Poconos, and pedal the route once used to carry coal down to barges on the Lehigh Canal. For an extra thrill, take the steep, rocky trail down Mount Pisgah.

STAY AT The Inn at Jim Thorpe (24 Broadway, Jim Thorpe; 800/329-2599; www.innjt.com; doubles from $105, plus $15 for kids seven and older) is a Victorian hotel in the town's historic district. Camp at Mauch Chunk Lake Park (625 Lentz Trail; 570/325-3669; sites $22) or Hickory Run State Park (570/443-0400; sites $19).
RENT FROM In Jim Thorpe: Blue Mountain Sports (800/599-4421; www.bikejimthorpe.com) and Pocono Whitewater Rafting (800/944-8392; www.whitewaterrafting.com).
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Learn about the highs and lows of Jim Thorpe's history, from the hilltop Asa Packer Mansion (30 Elk St.; 570/325-3229) to the gallows of the Old Jail Museum (128 W. Broadway; 570/325-5259). Or conquer the Lehigh River with Whitewater Challengers (800/443-8554; www.wc-rafting.com).
TRIP TIP The upper section of the mostly gravel trail is challenging. Also in Jim Thorpe, Lehigh Gorge State Park and the six-mile Lehigh Canal trail offer easier rides.
FOR MORE INFORMATION Call Carbon County Parks & Recreation (570/325-3669).

10 Elroy-Sparta State Trail, Wisconsin
Elroy to Sparta (32 miles)
The first rails-to-trails conversion in the nation—thank you, Wisconsin!—features three tunnels, one of which is really long (three-quarters of a mile), dark (bring a flashlight), and drippy (the water comes from underground springs).

STAY AT If you stay in one of the two cabins at Justin Trails B&B Resort (7452 Kathryn Ave., Sparta; 800/488-4521; www.justintrails.com; cabins $250), breakfast is delivered to your door. The Tunnel Trail Campground (26983 Hwy. 71, near Kendall; 608/435-6829; www.tunneltrail.com; sites from $40) has a pool, mini-golf, and bike rentals.
RENT FROM Speeds (1126 John St., Sparta; 608/269-2315). Out Spokin' Adventures (409 N. Court St., Sparta; 800/493-2453) delivers bikes and customizes tours.
WHEN YOU CAN'T BIKE ANOTHER MILE Switch saddles and go horseback riding at the Circle S stable (on the trail between Wilton and Kendall; 608/435-6975; $12 an hour). Or explore the Amish community in Cashton, 10 miles south of Sparta, on your own or with a guide from Down a Country Road (608/654-5318; www.downacountryroadamish.com; $40 for 1 1/2 hours, in your car).
TRIP TIP This moderately difficult trail is open May through October. Passes are sold at Kendall Depot Trail Headquarters (608/463-7109; $3 per adult).
FOR MORE INFORMATION Call trail headquarters in season (see above), or go to www.elroy-sparta-trail.org.

Additional reporting by Emily Holt.

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