Author Topic: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?  (Read 2055 times)

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Offline jimbo

Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« on: February 18, 2012, 09:49:38 pm »
Who has ridden Rt # 2 from Libby to Kalispell and how was traffic and shoulder? We'd be doing it in 2nd week June.

And from Kalispell to West Glacier?  Route?  Conditions?  I note that Google Map Bike has some options from Kalispell to Columbia Falls that are off #2. From Columbia Falls to West Glacier seems to be primarily on #2. Shoulder w/o rumble strip?

Thanks

Offline jamawani

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2012, 10:59:45 pm »
US 93 north of Whitefish is terrible - but US 2 west of Kalispell isn't much better.
The state of Montana is to blame.  Montana state govt consistently fails to provide basic services.
The Flathead Valley has seen huge population growth and megamillion mcmansions -
Yet the basic road infrastructure has not been significantly improved and what's there is falling apart.

Immediately northwest of Whitefish there is about 2 inches of shoulder and this is crumbling into the lane.
Plus there is pretty heavy traffic.  At the country club they've just poured a couple of feet of cheap asphalt.
The problem with US 2 is that there is almost 40 miles of shoulderless riding from Thompson Lakes to Kalispell.
Even though the pavement condition is better - there is a much longer shoulderless stretch.

Traffic counts:
US 2 - MacGregor Lake area - 1900
US 2 - Kila area - 5700 - that's a lot without shoulders
US 93 - Stillwater Lake area - 2000
US 93 - Spencer Lake - 4000

Fisher River Road has a count of 300.
Then Wolf Prairie Rd to Trego has only 90. 
Paved.  Sweet.  Plus there's a cafe/bar in Trego.

There's a zig-zag back road option from Whitefish to C.F.
There is a back way from Kalispell to Columbia Falls using Whitefish Stage Road.
And ACA has a designated back route avoiding the narrow US 2 section east of C.F.
It's a beautiful ride using Blankenship Bridge - but does have a short dirt section.

J








Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2012, 11:03:18 pm »
My personal opinion is that U.S. 2 was fine from Columbia Falls into West Glacier.  NT routes you on a beautiful back road that turns into a rough gravel road.  No thanks, that part needs at least front suspension.  I was grateful for the backroad routing from Whitefish to Columbia Falls, though, as the traffic was picking up as we left Columbia Falls westbound.  It looked like a major highway (with attendant traffic) south of Whitefish headed toward Kalispell.

Sorry, no information about Kalispell.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2012, 01:21:36 am »
My personal opinion is that U.S. 2 was fine from Columbia Falls into West Glacier.  NT routes you on a beautiful back road that turns into a rough gravel road.  No thanks, that part needs at least front suspension.

When did you ride that? We (April and myself) rode that part of the NT/Great Parks North last summer (July) and the unpaved section was fine with our bikes. It was mostly hard packed dirt. Neither of us had front suspension, and also had front bags. We were running 32mm/35mm tires. April didn't mind that section, and she HATES gravel.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2012, 07:18:44 pm »
My personal opinion is that U.S. 2 was fine from Columbia Falls into West Glacier.  NT routes you on a beautiful back road that turns into a rough gravel road.  No thanks, that part needs at least front suspension.

When did you ride that? We (April and myself) rode that part of the NT/Great Parks North last summer (July) and the unpaved section was fine with our bikes. It was mostly hard packed dirt. Neither of us had front suspension, and also had front bags. We were running 32mm/35mm tires. April didn't mind that section, and she HATES gravel.


My daughter and I hit that around the middle of July, 2011.  Took the back road up to Glacier, and then came back town 2.  As I recall, there was about a mile and a half of two lane road near the bridge on 2, and we had no problem with traffic all the way into Columbia Falls.  The washboard we hit was noticeable all along the unpaved sections, but the part from the river up to the railroad was almost unbearable.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #5 on: February 20, 2012, 02:22:18 pm »
Who has ridden Rt # 2 from Libby to Kalispell and how was traffic and shoulder? We'd be doing it in 2nd week June.

And from Kalispell to West Glacier?  Route?  Conditions?  I note that Google Map Bike has some options from Kalispell to Columbia Falls that are off #2. From Columbia Falls to West Glacier seems to be primarily on #2. Shoulder w/o rumble strip?

If you are trying to get from Libby to W. Glacier, why not simply follow Adventure Cycling's  Northern Tier route?  MT 37 along the shore of Lake Koocanusa if fabulous. From Eureka, the NT route avoids U.S. 93 where possible. I have done Eureka to Whitefish three times. The last time was in '09. Only heavily traffic sections were in Whitefish and Eureka, although I have heard stories to the contrary.  I believe Glacier Cyclery in Whitefish can give you a nice route into Columbia Falls that uses quiet, non-highway roads.

The route into Glacier debated above is N. Fork Rd. from Columbia Falls to Blankenship Rd. to Belton Stage Rd. You can stay on Belton Stage to U.S. 2 or make a right onto Lake 5 Rd. to U.S. 2. Either way, it's only a few miles on U.S. 2 to W. Glacier. Shoulder all the way.

There is an unpaved section. I think it's about 6-7 miles.  I did it east to west in late June of '09 and it wasn't bad. (Also went W-E in '99 in mid-June and it wasn't bad.) 37c tires with a full load and no suspension both times. Timing may be a factor affecting the condition of the unpaved surface. A guy who led backcountry backpack trips in Glacier told me that it gets more washboardy as the summer progresses. It's very nice and quiet back there except for maybe a few outfitter trucks pulling trailer for rafts.

I also took U.S. 2 from Columbia Falls all the way to W. Glacier and lived to tell about it. When I hit it there was not much traffic. As noted, there is a shoulderless stretch before Hunrgy Horse. I would not want to do it when there is heavy traffic. I was simply feeling lazy  that day.

If you have your heart set on Kalispell, I would take U.S. 93 to Whitefish and then smaller roads (E.g., Edgewood Dr.) to the Columbia Falls area over U.S. 2 to Columbia Falls. Try to stay off U.S. 2/MT 40. Rode that stretch in '09 to get from Columbia Falls to a hotel on U.S. 93 at the end of our trip. Not fun. U.S. 2 in Columbia Falls was also not fun. Lots and lots of truck traffic.

Offline jamawani

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2012, 02:42:18 pm »
I've biked thru Eureka a few times.
It's a great town - I love the 1950s cafe.

But a couple of years ago I stumbled upon the Fisher River / Wolf Prairie route.
It is a beautiful ride with almost zero traffic - and all paved, too.
Literally - I changed from long pants to shorts in the middle of the road.
Did it intentionally for the fun of it - to prove how quiet it was.
Of course, if someone would have come around the bend -
They would have gotten mooned.

Plus, there a delicious spring 2 1/2 miles east of the summit -
And a great bar/cafe in Trego with a deck.
One of the best "accidental" finds I have come across.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Libby to Kalispell on Rt #2 OK to ride?
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2012, 07:16:59 pm »
If you have your heart set on Kalispell, I would take U.S. 93 to Whitefish....

I have to take that back after checking something.  Heading south, I took U.S. 93 out of Whitefish a little ways to pick up some fuel and and then cut over to U.S. 2. It was busy, but there was a wide shoulder.