Author Topic: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?  (Read 5173 times)

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Offline PK

Hello there,

I am based in the UK and have this aggravating thought that won't leave me alone: crossing the US on my bicycle!  There was some hope that this thought would exit my noggin but after finding this site, reading the forum and following a long and winding trail of blogs, it was time to surrender, register and post.

At such an early stage of wondering, the more I read, the longer the list of questions grow.  The most complicated bit so far is finding a practical way of getting from West to East across the UK to get to an airport that will fly to the US, a problem that I see a fellow Devonian has mentioned on the forum before.

My first question that I would be grateful for advice on is: 

Have any of you started a crossing from Vancouver, Canada and do you have a suggestion for a route from there to join the Trans-Am please and thank you (ok, that was two questions)?   Having looked at the ACA overview, there are obviously options but would appreciate further info and recommendations.  I am finding it really hard to find a direct flight to anywhere else without changing aircraft one or more times (Seattle/Portland etc).

Another option would be to fly to San Francisco and start from there or via three seperate planes, start in Seattle!

I am thinking of starting on 15/16 June 2013.

There are a million more questions but above are the ones that are stopping further wondering at the moment, any help or general mocking will be greatly appreciated.

Cheers
PK






« Last Edit: November 19, 2012, 01:44:15 pm by PK »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #1 on: November 19, 2012, 01:54:06 pm »
That's a fairly easy question.  Get the northernmost Pacific Coast Trail map, which takes you from Vancouver down to Astoria, which by coincidence is the western terminus of the TransAm.  It's only another 400 miles!  :)

Alternatively, you could take this route or a ferry down to Anacortes, WA and take the Northern Tier east to Montana, where it's just a hop, skip and jump down to Missoula, where you can pick up the TransAm.  Great scenery, lots of climbing, and four passes in four days in Washington.  The nice folks at AC even have a map (Great Parks) to help you get from Glacier (which is well worth seeing) down south to Missoula.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2012, 02:01:05 pm »
Have any of you started a crossing from Vancouver, Canada and do you have a suggestion for a route from there to join the Trans-Am please and thank you (ok, that was two questions)?   Having looked at the ACA overview, there are obviously options but would appreciate further info and recommendations.  I am finding it really hard to find a direct flight to anywhere else without changing aircraft one or more times (Seattle/Portland etc).

Another option would be to fly to San Francisco and start from there or via three separate planes, start in Seattle!

I am thinking of starting on 15/16 June 2013.

The Pacific Coast Route starts in Vancouver and goes down to Astoria, Oregon, where you could pick up the start of the TransAm. This is simple as pie.

Starting in San Francisco on the Western Express and joining up with the TransAm in Pueblo is another perfectly fine option.

I'd take the first option if beautiful scenery is your primary objective. I'd take the second option if you have time constraints.

If you're flying with your bike, I don't think I'd favor taking three separate planes as it just increases the chances of damage to your bike in transit. But if you do go to Seattle, you can take the ferry over to Bremerton and join the Pacific Coast route there.

The middle of June is the perfect time to start from the west coast. You'll have a great time.

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2012, 02:09:07 pm »
PK, how much time do you have to play with?

Using the ACA Pacific Coast Route to get from Vancouver to Astoria is a viable option. The first half or so will go through the Puget Sound region, which is nice. The second half, from around Shelton, WA to Astoria, is doable but as noted by others is not particularly thrilling.

The other routing option would be to use one of the routes outlined in the "Bicycling The Pacific Coast" book:
http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Pacific-Coast-Vicky-Spring/dp/0898869544/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353351465&sr=8-1&keywords=bicycling+the+pacific+coast
The book has two routes: an inland route following the Puget Sound/Hood Canal, and the Peninsula route that goes the long way around the Olympic Peninsula. That area will most likely wet in mid-June, but it's worth it if you take the time to make the side trips into Olympic National Park. (If you don't, I would recommend the Inland Route.)

If you don't feel like biking, you can take Amtrak from Vancouver to Portland and then either take the Point bus to Astoria:
http://www.oregon-point.com/nw_point.html
Or you can ride to the coast.
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?&a=316549&c=36638
http://www.portlandonline.com/transportation/index.cfm?&a=316550&c=36638

Offline John Nettles

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2012, 03:10:04 pm »
I agree with PDLamb to take the Northern Tier to Glacier NP in Montana, then down to Missoula.  I have ridden the PC, TransAm, and NT.

The PC in Washington is so so as far as scenery goes.  I really like both Washington State (NT), and Oregon (both PC & TransAm).  Another option is to ride to Astoria via PC or Portland (via Sierra Cascade) and the ride the Lewis & Clark section along the Columbia River and join the TransAm in Kooskia, ID.  Idaho is another pretty state. I have not ridden the SC or L&C sections so can not comment on that option but would think the SC would be nicer than Washington's portion of the PC.

Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline PK

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #5 on: November 19, 2012, 03:38:00 pm »
Thank you so much for the rapid and extremely helpful answers, as I have noticed is the norm on this forum.

If you're flying with your bike, I don't think I'd favor taking three separate planes as it just increases the chances of damage to your bike in transit.

Thanks John, after reading a few threads and links to other sites about the handling of "luggage" and knowing how stuff can accidentally end up on the wrong flight, I wanted to make the flight bit of the trip as uncomplicated as possible. This left me with the option of either Vancouver or San Fransisco.

PK, how much time do you have to play with?

At the moment, none.  I have 2 jobs, one boss who is a bit of an eejit (I'm self employed).  Hopefully the other boss will be sympathetic and give me 90days (the max for us without a visa) or unsympathetic and give me a lifetime vacation!  The plan is to approach them with a basic plan outlined so they can see that I am not on an almighty skive.

The glacier route sounds brilliant, though I am not exactly a svelt or accomplished cyclist.  4 passes in 4 days might leave me crying into my cup of tea but this is supposed to be an adventure so appeals greatly.  I will leave that thought whirling around my noggin whilst I investigate all of the many other alternatives suggested.

Thanks again for all of the suggestions, they have got me out of by wondering rutt.  I will no doubt be back with further questions if you can stand it.

Cheers
PK


Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2012, 05:47:26 pm »
The glacier route sounds brilliant, though I am not exactly a svelt or accomplished cyclist.  4 passes in 4 days might leave me crying into my cup of tea but this is supposed to be an adventure so appeals greatly.  I will leave that thought whirling around my noggin whilst I investigate all of the many other alternatives suggested.

The good news, part one, is that the grade rarely exceeds 6%.  I think the absolute worst grade was 8% going east from Tonasket for 3/4 mile.

The best news is that half of the mountains is downhill.  Whee!

Offline tsteven4

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #7 on: November 19, 2012, 07:27:03 pm »
We did a combination Northern Tier/Trans Am from Mount Vernon, WA to Boulder CO this year http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/gallery/index.html?albumid=5769994076092330785&si=1.  We left the NT at Colville,WA, and picked up the Trans Am in Missoula, MT (Spokane, Plummer, Wallace, Thompson Falls, St. Regis).  A feature of this route is the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes http://friendsofcdatrails.org/CdA_Trail/index.html.  There is also some beautiful riding in the Palouse region of WA.  We took a bit crazy route over Dobson Pass in ID to Thompson Falls and were rewarded with a liter of foxes, a herd of elk, a moose, and countless bald eagles.  I could fill out of few details of some very nice but somewhat obscure roads we found if you are interested.

On the other hand, Glacier NP is highly recommended as well and that route is well documented by the ACA.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2012, 07:31:19 pm »
4 passes in 4 days might leave me crying into my cup of tea but this is supposed to be an adventure so appeals greatly.
I hate to break this to you, but there are no easy routes. Four passes (actually five) in four days in Washington is definitely hard, but it's not that far out of the norm. The only flat parts of the TransAm are in eastern Colorado and Kansas. Everything else is hilly. Reverse your thinking. Plan to be in shape to do those Washington passes, and the rest of the trip will take care of itself. Losing some weight and getting into shape will make your adventure so much more enjoyable.

Offline PK

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #9 on: November 20, 2012, 07:06:56 am »
Haa thanks pdlamb, downhill, the robust cyclists friend.  :)

I could fill out of few details of some very nice but somewhat obscure roads we found if you are interested.

That sounds excellent, if you have the time to do that it would be great. 

I really enjoy smaller trails and obscureness.  That looks like an excellent route which I will spend some more time investigating.  Thank you for sharing it.

I hate to break this to you, but there are no easy routes.

Thats good, I would like it to be a challenge and most look forward to the changes in scenery, temperature, altitude, road conditions etc, if it was all the same and easy it wouldn't be such a wonderful adventure.

Offline tsteven4

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2012, 09:10:55 am »
Here are some detail on the approach to Spokane. 
You can download the kml file here:
http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/maps/BicyclingdirectionstoSpokaneRiverCentennialTrail.kml
or view it on a google map here:
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Ftsteven4.qwestoffice.net%2Fmaps%2FBicyclingdirectionstoSpokaneRiverCentennialTrail.kml&hl=en&sll=38.997934,-105.550567&sspn=6.026675,13.392334&t=h&z=11

North of Loon Lake we found 395 to be reasonable and enjoyable.  South of Loon Lake it is getting busy and unpleasant.  This route leaves 395 a few miles south of Loon Lake.  The riding is quite enjoyable.  There are a few short steep hills at the south end of Swenson Road.  We were told by a local cyclist the few miles on 291 can be hazardous during commuting hours, but we found it acceptable on a Sunday afternoon.  It is highly recommended to cross the river near nine mile dam as shown to get on the Spokane River Centennial Trail, which is fantastic, a real jewel.  This section ends at a dirt trail that takes you to a foot bridge that crosses the river to the Bowl and Pitcher park.  The final 100 feet of the bridge approach on the west side is quite difficult walking with a loaded touring bike, unfortunately the recent "improvements" were done without apparent consideration for cyclist.  We were less than impressed with the campground, it was expensive and crowded, but that's city living for you.   Following this section I recommend crossing the bridge to the west side again and continuing south on the Spokane River Centennial Trail.

I will post some other recommended bits on the route to Missoula as I have time.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2012, 10:43:46 am »
Having done so myself, I am with the folks who recommend taking the NT to the GP to Missoula to pick up the TA. You can easily get from Seattle to the NT.

As for the four passes, two of them--Loup Loup and Waucunda--are not overly demanding. The first (which actually consists of two close together, Rainy and Washington),
is the most difficult. However, there is a great town for a rest day east of the passes. The final, Sherman Pass, is harder than the middle two but not as hard as the first.

Offline PK

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2012, 12:24:43 pm »
Thanks again guys.  I am definitely thinking of some form of Northern shuffling to get to the Trans-Am in Missoula.

Whilst perusing the maps today, I noticed there seems to be a route from Vancouver, staying in Canada and then pops out around the Colville area too, the Kettle Valley Trail (KVT).  Any idea what that is like?

I am at least reassured that a route out of Vancouver is not going to be an issue now, just alot of choices and variations, brilliant.  An unexpected advantage of starting in Vancouver is that my 90 days US visitors limit will only start once I have crossed the border into the US.  So if my bike ends up somewhere else, or there are other issues I will get a chance to sort them without adding time pressures (other than some explaining when I get back to work).

 

Offline tsteven4

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2012, 07:13:40 pm »
Here is another installment, Spokane to Plummer

http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/maps/BicyclingdirectionstoPlummer.kml
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Ftsteven4.qwestoffice.net%2Fmaps%2FBicyclingdirectionstoPlummer.kml&hl=en&sll=47.23449,-117.101898&sspn=0.65832,1.674042&t=m&z=11

The South Valley Chapel/East Valley Chapel section is fantastic.  I had heard people talk about the beauty of this region and I didn't understand, but riding that made me a believer.  We unfortunately missed the turn to South Chatcolet/East Chatcolet and continued straight on E. Hoxie Rd/278/58 to 95.  I imagine the Chatcolet section was very nice.  The part on 95 is grim.  The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes intersects 95 in the north end of Plummer.  Continue into Plummer if you need supplies.

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is well known and deserves its fine reputation.  The western 50 miles are especially amazing, another jewel.   The campground at Hawleys Landing in Heyburn State park has some very nice tent sites near the water.  The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes was the carrot that made us do this NT/TA connection.  While it was a highlight, it turned out to be just one of many.

I will add another installment or two, there is another jewel yet to come.

Offline tsteven4

Re: Suggestions for route from Vancouver, Canada to join Trans-Am Please?
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2012, 07:56:55 pm »
Here is the last installment, Wallace to Thompson Falls.

http://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/maps/BicyclingdirectionstoThompsonFalls.kml
https://maps.google.com/maps?q=http:%2F%2Ftsteven4.qwestoffice.net%2Fmaps%2FBicyclingdirectionstoThompsonFalls.kml&hl=en&sll=38.997934,-105.550567&sspn=6.026675,13.392334&t=h&z=11

This was a bit of a crazy way to go if you believe in straight lines, but if you believed in taking the shortest way from home to home you would stay home.  This is the day with 4 baby foxes frolicking in the road, a heard of elk, a moose, and more bald eagles than we could count.  It starts with Dobson pass, which has a big reputation as a steep climb.  For us it was just beautiful.  The road is actually closed a bit past the top due to a bit of a slide, but it was easily passable.   Thompson Pass is more of a wide open highway compared to the little forest road that is Dobson Pass.  The state park at Thompson Falls, where the maps ends, had plenty of room for us, although I guess we were lucky that the high water discouraged the normal boater and left room for us.

From here to Missoula there are two main choices, and this is the wea.  Hwy 200 or Hwy 200 to 135 to I90/frontage.  The south half of Hwy 200 goes through a reservation and we were told it would not be possible for us to stay there.  On the other hand there are lots of camping possibilities on 135 and in the I90 corridor.  We started west on 135 to check out Quinn's Hot Springs Resort with the intention of going back to 200 the next morning.  They wanted $120, so we moved on and ended up taking 135 to St. Regis and then the I90 corridor to Missoula.  It is very hard to get route information in the I90 corridor, the locals will tell you to just ride I90.  The only good advice we got, and it couldn't have been better, was from a Montana state trooper.  We ended up riding a combination of I90 and frontage roads.  The section of Old Hwy 10 that goes by Sloway campground was nice.   The Mullen Rd E is nice south from Superior while it lasts.  One particularly nice section the trooper told us about is Old Hwy 10 W near where the Fish Creek Road hits I90.  There is a bridge that is closed to vehicles but open to hikers and cyclists, so there is no traffic.  In between these bits we were on I90, though other possibilities probably exist.  We left I90 for good at Frenchtown, by then I90 is quite busy. 

We considered a much more adventurous route from 135 up Siegal Creek connecting with 9 mile road.  Much of that is dirt, and there is a big climb up Siegal creek.  Navigation skills are probably called for.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2012, 08:02:39 pm by tsteven4 »