Author Topic: Beginner out and back camping in NW?  (Read 1350 times)

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Offline MTMachinist

Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« on: February 24, 2013, 10:22:28 am »
My wife has never bicycle toured and I haven't for about 30 years or so. Getting close to an early retirement and would like to introduce my wife to touring by bike. We rode the Trail of the Hiawatha and the centennial trail from cour d' Lene  to Spokane a couple of years ago. She likes riding bikes and camping, just never done both at once. So I am looking for a good out and back weekend trip to ease her into touring. Something without a big climb , along a low traffic road or a non-motorized path and a nice camp ground. Or even a hotel out and back failing a camping one. Something with good scenery or atmosphere, that will completely wow her.

Needs to be within 300 miles of Helena, MT.

I could do a 30 mile out and back from Helena, but I need to show my wife the best possible circumstances her first time out. A buggy, no shower, no toilet first time expedition , will likely be a one time, never again, tried it once didn't like it, we will travel by car or get an RV, event.

I have a MTB, the wife a hybrid. And I will pull a BOB and she'll have a rear rack and panniers.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2013, 03:56:43 pm »
My preference would be to ride from home. Pick a nice state park with showers a reasonable distance from home, and then find back roads to get there. Riding from home just simplifies the logistics and the time commitment.

If that doesn't work for you, then pick a nice state park anywhere in your area, find the quietest roads in the area, and then drive to a spot a reasonable distance from that state park.

Once you feel up to the hills (perhaps not on this first ride), a ride over Going To The Sun Road is sure to blow you both away, no matter how many times you've been there before.

Or you could do a flat ride from West Glacier along Lake McDonald to Avalanche Campground (only 17 miles). Have lunch and/or dinner at Lake McDonald Lodge and take a cruise on the lake and/or take a Red Jammer up GTTS Road. Hiker/biker sites in Avalanche Campground are only $5 (each), or spring for $20 for a real site for more privacy. The five mile round trip hike from the campground up to Avalanche Lake is spectacular.

Offline Motoman32

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2013, 10:24:13 am »
I'm in the same predicament, except for the early retirement thing.  I wish I knew that area.  I'm in SoCal, so we have lots of options, but lots of traffic too.  Good luck with your search.  I'll be watching this thread with great interest.

Offline mucknort

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2013, 01:27:25 pm »
I'm in the same predicament, except for the early retirement thing.  I wish I knew that area.  I'm in SoCal, so we have lots of options, but lots of traffic too.  Good luck with your search.  I'll be watching this thread with great interest.

Motoman32,
If by "same predicament" you mean that you'd like to take your wife on a simple overnight tour, here's some thoughts. Don't know where in SoCal you are, but there's a series of excellent bike maps available online or from most bike shops. They are called Franko's Maps, and there's a guide for Orange County, LA, San Gabriel, and other parts of CA. http://www.amazon.com/Frankos-Map-Orange-County-Trails/dp/1601901712

They show decent bike routes on streets, but also note the many dedicated bike paths in SoCal. I would pick one for a day trip or even for an overnighter. For example, you could drive to the trailhead for the Santa Ana River Trail at Yorba Park in Anaheim, bike the 25 miles or so with your wife down to the ocean, then head left or right along the coast and stay at a hotel in Newport Beach or Huntington Beach, next day bike back up to your car. Lots of other similar trips using other river trails that would keep you from much car traffic.

Here's a link to further info on the Santa Ana River Trail: http://www.santaanarivertrail.org/trail-user-guide/interactive-map.html

Offline Motoman32

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2013, 01:38:52 pm »
Thanks mucknort!  And yes, that's exactly what I meant.  Son's in College now.  Looking for more things to do with the wife.    Having never been to Montana, I don't know if there's anything like the Maps you mentioned for that area as well.  Thanks again, mucknort.  And good luck, John.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2013, 02:29:13 pm »
If you don't mind some dirt, drive to Philipsburg. At the Sinclair gas station, turn right off MT 1 onto MT 348, climb the hill and descend to the memorial bridge across Rock Creek. Leave your vehicle there are ride down stream to this place:

http://ekstromstagestation.com/

Ask for (or reserve ahead) site 21, which is close to the creek. There is also a cabin available for rent. The food is darn good so you don't need to bring cooking gear. (There is nowhere to buy groceries anyway.)

IIRC, it's about 30 miles of unpaved surface and 9 or so more of paved road. (Either that or 20 miles of dirt and 9 of pavement.) Beautiful back there. Several places you ride right next to the creek. Lost of forest, too. Virtually traffic-free when we rode it in '11. Except for a few spots it's like riding on a rail trail grade-wise. Any noticeable up hill sections will be short. Our Surly LHTs with 32c tires easily handled the surface. Keep your eyes peeled for moose. Near the end of the dirt portion there is a neat cable and wood suspension bridge across the creek. Not long after you pick up pavement there is an outfitter on the right called Trout Bum. The owner makes good coffee and has a neat collection of flies. Other than that there is nothing commercial until the campground, so bring enough food a water.

Offline erniegrillo

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2013, 04:02:49 pm »
Try the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.  From Plummer Idaho past Wallace to Mullan...  over 70 miles one way,  following the river and the lake...   Flat, great scenery and nice places to stop, eat, and sight see.  One of the premier rail trails in the USA
friendsofcdatrails.org/CdA_Trail/index.html

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Beginner out and back camping in NW?
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2013, 12:44:09 am »
Try the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.  From Plummer Idaho past Wallace to Mullan...  over 70 miles one way,  following the river and the lake...   Flat, great scenery and nice places to stop, eat, and sight see.  One of the premier rail trails in the USA
friendsofcdatrails.org/CdA_Trail/index.html
Yes, truly a gem.  I took my wife on this and stayed in the hotel at Kellog that has the ski run starting at it.  On day 2 we went up and back from Kellog to Mullen.  I thought Wallace was one of the coolest western towns I've seen.  Mullen---not so much.
It is not really flat from Kellog up to Mullen.  It is steady uphill and gets steeper near the top, although it's never really steep at all.
May the wind be at your back!