Author Topic: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana  (Read 1593 times)

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Offline Heerda

Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« on: May 18, 2012, 03:06:18 am »
Which trail should I choose: follow the trail maps (direction Dillon) or the trail adviced from Donna Lynn Ikenberry (direction Butte) which is shorter?
What is your opinion and why?
Thanks in advence.

Online staehpj1

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 04:09:02 am »
I have only gone the Dillon way, but can say that it was a nice ride and there is a Patagonia outlet that will mail bike tourist's purchases home at no extra charge.   We got some great deals there and had them shipped home.  It was a nice diversion of a day that peaked at way over 100F.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 06:22:27 am »
I'm not sure since I don't have the book but I think it was published in 1996 and has it been updated since then? If you do follow her instructions to go through Butte you will end up riding on the I-90 interstate between Butte and Missoula for a ways because there are no frontage roads to ride on.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

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Offline indyfabz

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 06:29:00 am »
Your question is a bit difficult to assess without knowing the exact Ikenberry route. However, I was riding in the area last year. Started in Missoula and took the Trans Am to east of Big Hole Pass. Then took the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway to Wise River then MT 43 to Divide, then down to Melrose via the frontage road and then to Twin Bridges via Melrose Bench Road. From there I took MT 41 to MT 2 to Butte. From there, I took I-90 frontage roads and a little bit of the interstate (3 miles) to MT 1 and rode that all the way to Philipsburg and then eventually back to Missoula via MT 348/Rock Creek Rd., I-90 (again, about 3 miles) and local roads. Back in '00 I rode the Trans Am proper from Missoula to Twin Bridges and beyond.

No offense to the natives intended, but Butte ain't the nicest place in the world. There is only one camping option around--a KOA that looks and sounds (from the reviews I found) seedy. And it's right next to the interstate. However, the Finlen hotel/motel is a neat place. The motor lodge portion is relatively affordable and very retro. Despite its age, it was very well maintained, and the room was spotless. If you like larger cities, especially ones with interesting architecture and some history, Butte is worth a look. Just watch your bike. There are signs all around town about crime. A lot of it is meth-driven.

The ride from Twin Bridges to Butte was nice until hitting town. MT 41 to the junction with MT 55 is flat to gently rolling. There are some big rollers on 41 after that. You start up Pipestone Pass as soon as you turn onto MT 2. Pipestone seemed harder than it looked on paper. A narrow shoulder, but little traffic. We rode it July 5th, so that might not be the norm. Pretty ride. After Anaconda, MT 1 to Philipsburg is very nice. If you go this way, make sure to turn around as you descend. There is a cool waterfall that you will miss if you just look ahead. There is a great campground in Philipsburg run by a very nice woman.  Rock Creek Rd. is fabulous. There is 30 miles of unpaved surface which was easily managed with 37c tires. Just before you reach I-90 there is a nice campground with a good restaurant (but no groceries around), or you can camp in the forest along the road, but there is no running water (other than the creek) and no services back there.

The original plan was to stay in Philipsburg, back track on MT 1 to MT 38, ride over Skalkaho Pass to Hamilton and then take the Trans Am back to Missoula. Unfortunately, Skalkaho Pass was washed out so we took the Rock Creek Rd. route which was recommended by an Adventure Cycling employee we fortuitously ran into at a hot springs resort in the Pioneer Mountains. If I could do it again, that’s what I would do.

I think the Trans Am is, overall, more scenic than the above-route via Butte is what you are looking for is mountain views. It’s certainly more difficult. There is free camping in Wisdom if you can tolerate the mosquitoes. The long slog north from there is very pretty and then there is a long descent all the way to Darby. Yummy sandwiches at the store in Sula. I highly recommend the Old Darby Alternative between Darby and Hamilton. There is a point where the mountains, sky and river seem to come together. Stunning. And the unpaved section is not bad.

If you are up for the challenge, doing the reverse of the above route to Twin Bridges is an option. It presents its own set of challenges, but the scenery is terrific. Send me a PM if you would like details or otherwise have any questions.

Here is a slideshow of the trip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7-k2ZMFL_I

Online John Nelson

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 06:46:48 am »
I loved and devoured Donna Lynn's book, but it is hopelessly out of date. I would not rely on it much for logistical information. I did, however, take her advice to go through Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes and liked that, and I took her advice to eat at Mario's in Berea and regretted that. I looked for "The Dragon Lady" Donna Lynn described in Missouri, but she no longer seems to exist.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2012, 10:08:02 am »
Forgot to put in a plug for the bike camp in Twin Bridges. Very nice facility right on the river. We met one of the founders when we stayed there. Good grocery store in town along with a couple of places to eat  an a coin-op laundry.

Also forgot to mention that if you go to Butte via MT 41 and MT 2. Granny's Store is the only place to get food and water, and it's not that far from Twin Bridges. After that, you won't find anything until you hit the sprawl on the edge of Butte. There is no shade on MT 41, so if it's hot bring plenty of water. Climbing Pipestone, you can take a rest in the shade of the forest, but there was no shade on the road.

I suspect John is correct about the book being dated. A lot of the sprawl in Butte appeared to be relatively new. The entrance into town has a good deal of traffic, and because I-90 slices through the town, it can be a little tricky to navigate. I picked a route using Google Maps and it was pretty much a good one, but the way you go will depend on where you are headed in town. My route was based on getting to the Hotel Finlen in the Uptown part of the city, which is the historic part. If you are just passing through there is no need to go up there. (It's a good climb.) If you want to avoid a riding I-90 as much as possible, you need to take the frontage roads on the south side of I-90. A portiojn is unpaved, but it's easy riding. At some point, you cross under I-90 from Wild Horse Meadow onto Bossard (it looks like a drainage pipe) and follow that to interchange 211. We got on I-90 there for 3 miles to the exit for MT 1. Easy riding. Shortly after getting on MT 1 there is a nice new rest area with bathrooms and cold water.

Google Maps shows a road called Crackerville on the south side of the 211 interchnage that leads to a frontage road that ultimately leads to MT 1. However, if you look at Street View it looks like that road no longer really exists. Look at the alleged interserction of that frontage road and MT 1 and you will see what I mean. When I was out there I looked for the road and didn't see it. Whatever you do, do not take the idilic sounding Blue Bird Trail out of Butte. It's not a bike trail as its name suggests. Looks like it might have been a wagon or catle trail once upon a time. We had to walk some of it.

Offline Heerda

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2012, 01:08:15 pm »
Trail Ikenberry: Twin Bridges - Butte - Anaconda - Georgetown Lake - Drummond - Clinton - Missoula

Offline indyfabz

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2012, 04:45:46 pm »
Trail Ikenberry: Twin Bridges - Butte - Anaconda - Georgetown Lake - Drummond - Clinton - Missoula

Those are the places we went through via the route I described up to Philipsburg, where we took Rock Creek Road. If you stay on MT 1 to Drummond and then head to Missoula you will end up riding more miles on I-90 because, as Carla notes, in some places there are no frontage roads.  I would either stay on the Trans Am or take one of the routes I suggested. BTW...Sklalkaho has a long section of dirt. From the videos I have seen it looks amazing (The descent starts around 1:25 min.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ3Miy8Jhj4

And you can pan for Sapphires at Gem Mountain.

Again, send me a PM if you would like more details.

Offline Heerda

Re: Transam trail from Twin Bridges to Missoula, Montana
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2012, 04:13:52 am »
Trail Ikenberry: Twin Bridges - Butte - Anaconda - Georgetown Lake - Drummond - Clinton - Missoula

Those are the places we went through via the route I described up to Philipsburg, where we took Rock Creek Road. If you stay on MT 1 to Drummond and then head to Missoula you will end up riding more miles on I-90 because, as Carla notes, in some places there are no frontage roads.  I would either stay on the Trans Am or take one of the routes I suggested. BTW...Sklalkaho has a long section of dirt. From the videos I have seen it looks amazing (The descent starts around 1:25 min.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQ3Miy8Jhj4

And you can pan for Sapphires at Gem Mountain.

Again, send me a PM if you would like more details.
Thanks I will stay on the TA.