New U.S. Bicycle Routes approved in Maryland and Tennessee

cocanal-5The Adventure Cycling Association and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials announced that AASHTO’s Special Committee on U.S. Route Numbering has approved U.S. Bike Route 50 in Maryland, which follows the C&O Canal Towpath, and U.S. Bike Route 23 in Tennessee.

U.S. Bicycle Route 50 follows the established Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historical Park through Maryland. Located along the north bank of the Potomac River, the 184.5-mile canal towpath originates in Washington, D.C., then arrives in Cumberland, Md.

The canal became a National Historical Park in 1971. Today, much of the canal has been drained of water and reclaimed by the forest, however the canal’s towpath remains a favorite of hikers, joggers, and bicyclists. The route connects with the Great Allegheny Passage Trail in Cumberland, making it is possible to ride 330 traffic-free miles from Washington D.C., to Pittsburgh.

Newly designated U.S. Bicycle Route 23 in Tennessee covers 154 miles between the Kentucky border, where it joins Kentucky’s existing Mammoth Cave state bicycle route, and Alabama. Heading south from Kentucky, USBR 23 begins in rural Robertson County before passing through the community of White House with its marked bicycle lanes. From there the route enters metropolitan Nashville, traveling through residential neighborhoods and past unique culinary establishments through East Nashville, Downtown, The Gulch, and Midtown.

The route then cuts through the heart of Nashville’s music scene past the Ryman Auditorium, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and dozens of local clubs, as well as skirting several universities including Vanderbilt, Belmont, Libscomb, and Fisk. Leaving Nashville, cyclists have the option to take a three-mile spur to connect with the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, or continue on USBR 23 south through Franklin, which features several Civil War historic sites and a wonderful downtown.

The route south of Franklin is rural and very scenic; there, a second spur connects to food and lodging at Henry Horton State Park, Chapel Hill, and Lewisburg. Further south, cyclists may travel for an hour or more and not see an automobile. U.S. Bicycle Route 23 enters Alabama at Ardmore, a city whose main street is also the Tennessee-Alabama state line.

The U.S. Bicycle Route System (USBRS) now encompasses 6,196 miles of approved U.S. Bike Routes in 12 states: Alaska, Kentucky, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

When complete, the U.S. Bicycle Route System will be the largest official bike route network on the planet, encompassing more than 50,000 miles of routes. Learn more at www.adventurecycling.org/usbrs.

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