What are Trail Tours?
You’re probably familiar with the typical adventure travel model that involves riding bikes on roads, streets & byways. It is a very popular travel option for travelers who are bicycle enthusiasts but is quite different than trail tours. It offers exercise and camaraderie as well as a unique way to explore different regions or countries. But traditional adventure bike tours also has their disadvantages:
- It’s not very safe. As newspaper headlines often prove, automobiles & bicycles do no work well together.
- It often involves a frantic pace. Although riders are free to stop wherever they want, many roadsides aren’t conducive to site-seeing due to narrow shoulders and/or speeding traffic.
- Road biking presents numerous less-than-pleasant distractions including pollution, noise & unattractive views.
Advantages of Trail Biking
The next section of this blog-post will provide you with information about the types of trails most often used in trail touring. But first, let’s look at the advantages of trail bike touring:
- safety – Because you aren’t sharing the road with hulking, speeding vehicles, you are much safer riding on trails.
- serenity – Without the noisy background sounds of traffic, trails are much more peaceful than roads.
- scenery – Trails often provide a much more scenic backdrop than roads.
- less crowded – Since the majority of people have not yet discovered the joys of trail-travel, you are much more likely to enjoy a more peaceful and less crowded biking experience.
- history – Most long-distance trails are built on former railroad grades, canal towpaths, historic footpaths or converted roadways. As a result, they are often dotted with historical gems along the way, including scenic villages, converted rail stations, historical waysides & unique museums.
- family friendly – Because of all the reasons listed above, trail tours are much better for families, couples, retirees and most other demographic groups.
Types of Trails Conducive to Trail Tours & Trail Travel
Most people are unfamiliar with “destination trails.” Destination trails are those that are worthwhile for planning a vacation around and are most often the type used in trail travel and trail tours. Here are some examples of destination trails with brief explanations or definitions:
- long-distance trails – As the name implies, these trails cover a lot of ground. Some famous examples of long-distance trails include the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Great Plains Trail and Camino de Santiago (St. James Way). Most of these trails are designated as scenic trails, historical trails or international trails.
- rail trails – Rail trails are trails that have been converted from abandoned rail lines into trails of varying length. A good example of a rail trail is the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.
- canal trails – Like rail trails, canal trails are converted from former transportation or cargo use. They are often built along the towpath of major canals. One of the most famous canal trails is the C & O Canal Towpath Trail in Maryland.
Trail Tour Companies
At present, only one bicycle tour company specializes in trail tours. Active Travel Tours offers trail tours as part of their hosted tour program. Most bike tour companies offer guided tours that are mainly limited to road biking. That will probably change soon as trail biking becomes more and more popular. Both trail tours and hosted tours are recent innovations in the travel industry, but it is likely that they will gain momentum and become a rising trend.