Biking is a great way to see the country up close and personal. Except for the interstate highways, you can bike on most roads in the United States. Among the best are the Maine coast, Cape Cod, and the hills of New England -- especially Vermont; Virginia's rolling Shenandoah Valley; the combined Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia and North Carolina; the Outer Banks of North Carolina; the dramatic California coast ; the Oregon coast; the San Juan Islands near Seattle; and the road circling the Big Island of Hawaii. Exceptional mountain biking is also available in most of West Virginia's state parks. Biking is an excellent way to see some national parks, especially Shenandoah, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, and Glacier.
An ongoing nationwide program is converting some 50,000 miles of abandoned railroad beds into biking-and-walking paths. For a list, contact the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, 1100 17th St. NW, 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 (tel. 202/331-9696; www.railtrails.org), founded in 1986.
Several companies and organizations offer escorted bike excursions, including Backroads and Bicycle Adventures. American Youth Hostels (tel. 301/495-1240; www.hiusa.org) has trips for its members. CrossRoads Cycling Adventures (tel. 800/971-2453; www.crossroadscycling.com) offers nationwide excursions, including California to Massachusetts and Maine to Florida.
If mountain bikes are your thing, you'll find plenty of dirt roads and backcountry pathways to explore. Many national parks and forests have a good selection of trails -- Acadia National Park's carriage roads, for example, are unique. You can also take guided tours through 60 miles of connected trails in the Sebago Lake area, near the New Hampshire border, with Back Country Excursions (tel. 207/625-8189; www.bikebackcountry.com).
Out in Colorado, ski areas often open their lifts to bikers in the summer. Winter Park is considered the state's mountain-bike capital (tel. 800/903-PARK [903-7275] or 970/726-4118). The state's single-best route, the 30-mile Tipperary Creek Trail, ends at Winter Park. Another popular area is the Bryce, Zion, and Canyonlands regions of southern Utah. Contact Rim Tours (tel. 800/626-7335; www.rimtours.com) or Escape Adventures (tel. 800/596-2953; www.kaibabtours.com), based in the town of Moab.
West Virginia is a top destination for mountain biking; especially good spots are Canaan Valley Resort and Backwater Falls State Park.