We have highlighted sixteen lines that appear to have high potential value as rail to trail conversions. Some of these lines already have portions that are trails or have sections that have been considered for trail projects in the past. Others have never been considered for trails. These lines were chosen based on several factors, including: contiguity, a right of way that is intact and not destroyed by natural or built causes, presence of railroad artifacts such as depots, tunnels or bridges, access to natural areas or parks, access to population, and connection between amenities and communities.
The unaccounted for factors that often determine the feasibility of trail projects are public support, funding, and the ability to acquire the right of way for trail use. We have seen in other states that even long-abandoned, discontinuous lines can become successful trails with enough political, local, and financial support, while many recently abandoned trail candidates are never completed because of problems in these areas. These are things that need to be kept in mind while reading the descriptions of lines with trail potential, understanding that there are other lines not on the list that have fewer "amenities" or "artifacts" but may enjoy greater support and therefore are more likely to become a successful trail than these high value lines.
There are also many other rail lines that are proposed as trails but are still in the planning or support-raising stage. Those lines were omitted from this list because they are already recognized as having high trail potential. Please refer to Appendix B in the Final Report on the Documentation Page for a list of these lines.
There are lines with great trail potential in all regions of the state. Some are fairly short -- only a few miles -- while others cross several counties and connect many cities. We tried to choose lines that are representative of the variety of possibilities in the state: ones that serve to connect urban areas or travel through rural natural areas, lines in the mountains and others in agricultural areas or river valleys.