This 31-mile, Northshore bike path was once home to train tracks

Owners of local businesses in Abita Springs tell the history and fun of the St. Tammany Trace.

The people of Abita Springs call their community, “America’s bicycle town” – probably because of the long bike path that runs through it. However, the Tammany Trace wasn’t always as smooth as it is now.

“It’s a beautiful trail, by now it has trees growing over it. It was originally a railroad,” said William Preble, owner of the Abita Springs Hotel.

Yeah, you read that right. This beautiful family-friendly trail used to be the Illinois Central Railroad system.

“The St. Tammany Trace was established 15 years ago, or something, and it was a Rails to Trails project. They took away the railroad track, but kept the bicycle trail,” said John Preble, owner of the Abita Mystery House.

So now, it’s a 31-mile bike path that you can ride all through the Northshore. It’s free. It’s fun. And it’s a good way to get outside.

Because it’s such a convenient ride for residents and tourists, many businesses sit on top of the trace—much like the Prebles’. William Preble’s historical Abita Springs Hotel building opens up right to the trail.

“You can literally walk out our front door, and the first thing you come to is the Trace,” said William.

With such an easy attraction at his front door, William wants it to be smooth riding for his guests. The Abita Springs Hotel offers 2 complimentary bikes to visitors. But those aren’t the only bikes William has out.

“So if our bikes aren’t available, or if they have more than two people, they can call a number on our bike rack and rent it from Patrick.”

Patrick owns Brooks Bike Shop right off of the Trace in Covington and Mandeville. To spread the bicycle love, he put these rent-a-bike racks all around the Trace.

“So he kind of moves the bikes around, sort of like they do in New Orleans with the blue bikes, but on a much smaller scale on the trace,” added William. “Also, anyone in town or anyone visiting is welcome to rent the bikes at any time.”

So, if you have a day off, ride through the St. Tammany Trace. Be sure to say hello to and be aware of others on the path. Horses, walkers and joggers are also welcome on the path. However, no other pets, such as dogs, can join.

Don’t forget to take rests and cool off. There are several trailhead stops along the way. Some even have splash pads and snowball stands.

Here is a list of all the trailhead stops. You can park your car at, unload your gear and roll out from any of these locations:

  • 419 N New Hampshire St, Covington, LA 70433
  • 22049 Main St, Abita Springs, LA 70420
  • 675 Lafitte St, Mandeville LA 70448
  • 28452 Baleighi Rd, Lacombe, LA 70445
  • 2289 Hwy. 190, Slidell, LA 70460