Bike packing on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Massachusetts

Trip planning FAQs

Thinking about planning a trip along the East Coast Greenway, by bike or by foot? We're glad to hear it. Below you'll find answers to some common questions we hear as people begin to plan their journeys.

Please remember that we are small nonprofit primarily devoted to continuing to develop the Greenway. We don't have the staff capacity to help you with extensive trip planning, but we're continuing to develop resources to help the increasing number of cyclists, runners, and walkers who want to explore this unique 3,000-mile route, connecting 450 communities along our nation's most populated corridor.

Still have questions? Write to us.

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Shan Riggs (right) became the first person to run the entire 3,000-mile East Coast Greenway when he reached the northern terminus of the route in Calais, Maine on Saturday, July 2.

The basics: about the Greenway, how to navigate

How long does it take to travel the entire East Coast Greenway? By bike, most cyclists will take between two and four months, depending on how many miles a day they want to ride. The three people who have walked the entire route took roughly six months.

How do I navigate the Greenway? You’ll find more information on how to use our online mapping platform here. The online tool allows you to upload files to a navigation app such as or Ride with GPS and/or print turn-by-turn cue sheets. Some sections of the Greenway are better marked than others with ECG signs and turn arrows, which can serve to confirm that you are on course.

Which direction should I travel, north or south? Choosing which way to travel the East Coast Greenway, especially its entire length, is best decided by the seasons. If you can begin your trip in spring, it’s probably best to head north from Key West, where the temperatures are likely to be warm; by the time you reach Maine it should be warm there, too. Leaving from Calais, Maine, our northern end, makes sense for late summer or fall, so that the last 600 miles or so in Florida should be a little temperate by the time you get there.

Where should I stay? We hope to produce an East Coast Greenway guide in the near future that will include recommended lodging and camping options near the route. Most Greenway travelers depend on a mix of Airbnb rentals, motels and stays. Cyclists and walkers will find some nearby campgrounds in our more rural areas, and many travelers have successfully managed stealth camping — as in asking the local firehouse if you can pitch your tent on their grounds. 

What kinds of surfaces should I expect? The East Coast Greenway is a mix of surfaces from asphalt — bike paths and the shoulders of roads — to concrete paths, wooden boardwalks and bridges, stone-dust and natural surfaces to gravel paths. Unpaved sections are indicated on our online mapping platform,, with a dashed line. One particularly extended section, the Downeast Sunrise Trail in northern Maine, offers an on-road option if travelers find the gravel surface too rough.  

Can I ride the Greenway on a road bike? A road bike, with thinner tires and lightweight frame, is fine for many sections of the East Coast Greenway, but wider tires, 32 to 38 mm, will mean a more comfortable ride on all Greenway sections, including those made of stone-dust, gravel, and dirt. If you are carrying a substantial amount of gear, you’ll be safer on a heavier touring bike, meant to carry the weight of loaded bags. 

How should I train for a 3,000-mile ride? One of the great things about long-distance cycling compared to, say, marathon running, is that to some extent you can train as you go. Cycling doesn’t pound your joints and muscles the way running does. After a few days of discomfort getting used to sitting on a small seat and asking your quads to work every day, most cyclists experience growing stronger each day. That said, it’s of course helpful to build up some miles before you take off (biking or walking). Practice with loaded bike bags or a backpack so that your first day of carrying your gear isn’t such a shock; even better if you can take a trip of a few days or a week before launching your longer trip.

Are there rules and laws about using the East Coast Greenway? The Greenway belongs to each municipality that it passes through, with laws and rules that may vary (for example, hours that the trail is open). See our basic guidelines on safety and etiquette

Please note: Currently, our interim route in South Carolina and Georgia, includes a great deal of high-stress, on-road segments, predominantly on U.S. Highway 17. Our team is working with local municipalities and agencies to improve conditions in the region, but we strongly advise against riding these high-stress segments at this time. We recommend long-distance travelers focus on experiencing our beautiful, completed segments of the East Coast Greenway. The Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort, South Carolina, and West Ashley Greenway south of Charleston are incredible sections of the trail, offering the best shorter rides in the region on the Greenway route. Those still wishing to complete long-distance rides through this region are encouraged to seek vehicle support or travel by Amtrak to bypass this stretch.

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Three FreeWalkers hiked 165 miles from Boston to Portland, Maine in July 2017.

Through-travelers and more resources

How many people have completed the entire East Coast Greenway? We count nearly 100 through-travelers, including three people who have walked the whole route - and one runner! This includes cyclists who have completed the Greenway over many years as well as those finishing in one trip. Read more.

How does the East Coast Greenway Alliance define through-traveler? We define a through-traveler as someone who completes the entire route during any period of time, in any particular order. 

Should I tell the East Coast Greenway Alliance that I’m planning to bike or walk the route? We don’t require that you register your trip, but we like to know who is enjoying the Greenway and we are happy to keep an unofficial register of thru-travelers. You can write to us to let you know when you are leaving and whether you are traveling south to north or north to south, then let us know when you finish. 

Along the way, if you are active on social media, we love to hear how your trip is going and see your favorite sights, so be sure to tag the East Coast Greenway when you post updates:

Are there other resources to learn more? Stay tuned! We're working to develop more information for travelers while also continuing to develop the route. Two other resources currently: 

  • We've published a series of blog posts about favorites — crowd sourced and from staff recommendations— for everything from bike shops to breweries along the route. You can find those posts collected here

  • Join/donate to the Greenway and we'll send you a link to a webinar for members that offers a few more tips and pointers and highlights favorite stretches about the Greenway.  


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Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano and 2021 long-distance rider Chantelle Relerford

Greenway Guidance

While the East Coast Greenway Alliance is constantly improving the safety of the Greenway route through its advocacy efforts, many of the current on-road connections, including those on the Greenway’s interim routes, have little or no special provisions for bicyclists or pedestrians. Long-distance travel via on-road sections of the Greenway is recommended for experienced cyclists only. Many lengthy traffic-free segments of the Greenway are suitable for families and cyclists, walkers and runners of all ages and abilities. 

The current on-road routing is housed on low-traffic roads whenever possible. We aim to be as clear as we are able about the conditions riders can expect by including alerts for known stressful sections on our online mapping tool at Directional signage may or may not be present along the route. Users are advised to review state traffic laws, research current road conditions and discuss plans with people familiar with area roadways.

This website provides information for the public about trails and roads for traveling the interim route of the East Coast Greenway and their general suitability for long-distance cycling and walking. The East Coast Greenway Alliance and those involved with the development and publication of this website do not assume any liability for injuries, damage or loss to persons using this information or the routes suggested. People using this information are responsible for their own safety and should take appropriate precautions. 

Want to help the Greenway?

What can I do to help the East Coast Greenway keep growing?  Thanks for asking! We feel sure that once you’ve traveled a few days on our route, you will experience moments of joy when you turn from a road — and worrying about traffic — onto a quiet, protected stretch of the Greenway. The lightbulb goes off and you will join the hundreds of thousands of fellow East Coast Greenway enthusiasts who want to see the route completed as a connected, protected, off-road trail.

Here’s a few ways you can help:

  • Donate. Every gift helps, large or small. When you make a gift to our nonprofit, know that you are supporting further route development, signage, mapping enhancement, and more. You’ll become a member, meaning we’ll send you a monthly e-newsletter to keep you up to date on new segments, events, and more.

  • Volunteer. Write to us to let us know of your interest to help with events, trail stewardship and other activities. 

  • Follow us. The East Coast Greenway’s social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn will help you stay up to date. Posting your Greenway photos and experiences lets your friends learn about the Greenway. Be sure to tag us so we can share your posts.

Still have questions? Write to us.

Together, let's grow the Greenway

Recent record-setting funding for design and construction goes directly to building the East Coast Greenway - as it should. The East Coast Greenway Alliance needs your support to continue our advocacy work that is fueling completion of the Greenway. The Alliance has a sustained track record of turning every dollar donated to our nonprofit into $100 in public infrastructure investment. Invest today and support the growth of the East Coast Greenway from Maine to Florida.