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Best Use of Abandoned Railroad Tracks 

Iron Horse Regional Trail

Unless you're General Motors, the death of a railroad line isn't usually a reason to celebrate. However, we might be willing to make an exception for Iron Horse Trail, built on the remains of the San Ramon Valley Branch Line. Built in 1890 by Southern Pacific and abandoned in 1978, the line played a key role in developing central Contra Costa County. After Southern Pacific tore out the tracks, the county bought the land and licensed it to the East Bay Regional Park District for a rail-to-trail conversion. Inside a mostly bucolic green strip through exurbia, the paved trail lets you hike or bike along the 24.5 miles from Concord to San Ramon. A plus is that it's BART-accessible via the Pleasant Hill and Dublin/Pleasanton stations, allowing you the option of a car-free way to the trail and back again after a one-way bike trip. Even better, the trail is scheduled to grow to 33 miles, stretching from the Suisun Bay to Livermore.

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