In the early ’60s a small group of locals in southwestern Wisconsin decided to do something creative with their stretch of abandoned railroad. They opened a 32-mile thoroughfare between Elroy and Sparta and designated it a recreational path for bikers and walkers. More than 50 years later rail trails have become magnets for outdoor enthusiasts and a focal point of urban renewal across the country.
Here are five of the best paved bike trails in New England. For the one nearest to you, visit the Rail-to-Trail Conservancy website at www.railstotrails.org.