Louisiana’s only rails-to-trails conversion, the 31-mile Trace winds through the Northshore, a paved ribbon connecting five communities interspersed with lovely green space. The path offers all who ride, walk or even rollerblade it, a way to experience both the towns and the natural beauty that so enhances quality of life on the Northshore.
Originally a corridor for the Illinois Central Railroad, the Trace now is an earth-friendly hike and bike trail stretching from downtown Covington, through Abita Springs, Mandeville and Lacombe and ending in Slidell. The St. Tammany Parish government purchased the abandoned Illinois Central Railroad corridor on December 20, 1992. With the help of grants and federal dollars, the St. Tammany Parish government has asphalted 31 miles, remodeled railroad trestles into pedestrian bridges and maintained the Trace.
Some visitors come to the Trace for a leisurely stroll with their families. Others power-walk the path, getting their daily exercise and a dose of fresh air. Serious cyclists, in racing jerseys and Lycra shorts with padded buns, speed through from beginning to end (and sometimes back). Others pedal slowly, just soaking in the restorative scenery. The community is diverse yet connected by the Trace and a bountiful heritage that makes it uniquely the North Shore. Today the parish is one of the fastest growing in the state. Despite the rapid growth, however, this 27.5-mile corridor is blessed with beautiful views of woods and wetlands.