Fifteen states, 3,000 miles, one bike path. This is the vision for the nonprofit organization East Coast Greenway Alliance (ECGA) which is in charge of the trail that will stretch from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida.
“It’s about seeing America at the right speed, where you can take in all of the culture around you,” ECGA executive director Dennis Markatos-Soriano said in an interview with CityLab in 2016. “And you don’t have a windshield between yourself and the community.”
Here’s Calais, Maine, the East Coast Greenway’s starting point, which sits just across the river from Canada.
The project has been underway since 1991, building different segments of the trail that will eventually link together. The completed portions of the trail are able to be biked right now, and you can plan out your route using the Greenway map.
The trail will ultimately go through 15 states and 450 communities along the East Coast of the U.S.
One of the ECGA Board of Trustees, Bob Spiegelman biked the entire length of the Greenway, from Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida, in 2012, according to CityLab.
The trail ends in Key West, Florida, which is the southernmost point of the continental U.S.
The alliance can’t say exactly when the Greenway will be finished. The goal is to have a 95% traffic-free route by the year 2030. Why “traffic-free”? Well, the trail is intended to be completely off-road once it is finished. Any current on-road sections are considered “interim” and not technically finished, although they may be safe to bike.
As of April 2023, 35% of the Greenway is on protected paths — and it’s apparent from the photos in a post the alliance shared on National Exercise Day that people are using it to run, walk, bike and even rollerblade.
Though the ultimate goal is to create a 3,000-mile trail, the Greenway is also a place where people can get outside to exercise and enjoy nature in their local communities — which is what prompted the Greenway to tweet that it has become one of the most-visited parks in America:
Since the East Coast Greenway Alliance’s founding in 1991, our advocacy efforts have led to continued expansion of the East Coast Greenway, mile by mile, through cities, towns and rural communities along the East Coast, making us one of the most visited parks in America: pic.twitter.com/26OMZs7Qds
— East Coast Greenway (@ECGreenway) December 29, 2022
Connecting Paths To Blaze New Trails
The bike trail uses the rivers and train tracks that connect the East Coast as guidelines, and it connects several existing bike paths that were previously unaffiliated: a trail following the length of the Hudson River in New York, for example, and a 25-mile-long path along the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
Check out the announcement for the addition of the Schuylkill River Trail, posted in 2018 by the East Coast Greenway Twitter account.
Big, exciting news this week for Philadelphia and all of us! A @USDOT grant will help fund the last piece of the city's Schuylkill River Trail, a favorite stretch of the East Coast Greenway. @bcgp @PECPA @WilliamPennFdn https://t.co/0NDVigtuHM pic.twitter.com/wsE3RtZLzv
— East Coast Greenway (@ECGreenway) March 9, 2018
These trails are now part of the East Coast Greenway, thanks to work by ECGA founders who wanted to connect them.
To learn more about the East Coast Greenway and plan your route, visit the website.