Author Topic: Across North America  (Read 2139 times)

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Offline gvantittelboom

Across North America
« on: April 17, 2013, 09:25:59 am »
Hello,

My wife and I are planning a bicycle trip during this summer (as our honeymoon) from June to mid-September.
We would like to travel across North America, following and/or crossing the US/Canadian border from east to west.
The starting point will probably be New York (arriving by boat) and our final destination is Seattle where we'll take a plane back to Europe.
As this is probably going to be a once in a lifetime experience: what would be the nicest route(s) to follow?

Greetings from Belgium,

Gilles

Offline John Nelson

Re: Across North America
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2013, 09:48:09 am »
The route that seems to meet your criteria the best is the ACA Northern Tier. At the western end, the NT will get you within a day's ride of Seattle. At the eastern end, there are many different routes possible from NYC up to the NT. One way would be to take the train to Albany, and then ride the Adirondack Park Loop up to the NT in eastern NY.

Offline mbattisti

Re: Across North America
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2013, 11:12:31 am »
My wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary my taking the transam from VA to Missoula,MT, then detoured north thru Seeley Lake, MT (which will take your near BEAUTIFUL glacier natl. park) where you can pick up the northern tier. We also ended in Seattle.  I've heard the North Dakota-Eastern Montana stretch of the Northern Tier can get boring (and with sometimes difficult headwinds and that direction). 
You would just need to plot a route to pick up the transam from NY.  If you wish to see a wider cross-section of america (and we think more scenic) I would recommend the transam over the northern tier in the east.
Be prepared for cold weather and possibly some snow traveling over the cascades in Mid-september.

Offline indyfabz

Re: Across North America
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2013, 01:24:41 pm »
ACA's Nothern Tier is a fine route. You cross into Canada twice, visiting Niagara Falls and Alberta, including Waterton Village, which has a drmatic campsite in town. And going to the Sun Road is Glacier National Park is one of the most scenic roads in the entire country.

Riding out of NYC can be tough, especially if you don't know the area. Fortunately, there are several rail options to get you out of the city.

The nice this about following one of ACA's route is that the maps who the location of services souch as camprgounds, bike shops, motels and grocery stores.


Offline gvantittelboom

Re: Across North America
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2013, 09:12:51 am »
Thank you very much for your replies and also for the useful info.
Actually we considered the ACA TransAmerica Trail but we're afraid it will be to hot in the summer, especially the first half (from east to west).
About the ACA Northern Tier: if possible we would like to add more of Canada. So the route we are currently considering is as follows:
- leaving New York City with the NY State Bike Route 9 to Poughkeepsie, NY (85 miles)
- join the ACA Atlantic Coast to Bar Harbor, ME (542 miles)
- start the ACA Northern Tier and follow it until Ticonderoga, NY (401.5 miles)
  (or maybe as an alternative route take the ACA Green Mountains Loop from North Haverhill, NH to Port Kent, NY)
- from there rejoin the NY State Bike Route 9 to Rouses Point on the New York - Quebec border (92 miles)
- cross the border and follow the Route Verte to Montreal, QC (53 miles)
- go to Ottawa, ON on the Trans Canada Trail (300 miles)
- continue to Kingston, ON (160 miles) and join the Waterfront Trail that will take us to the Niagara Falls (260 miles)
- next from Fort Erie, ON along the ACA Lake Erie Connector to Wolf Lake, MI (504.5 miles)
- then follow the ACA North Lakes to Osceola, WI (873 miles)
- rejoin the Northern Tier to Whitefish, MT (1.585 miles)
- follow the ACA Great Parks North to Jasper, AB (616 miles)
- and finish with the Trans Canada Trail again that will take us to Vancouver (720 miles)
If the miles are added up we get something around 6000 miles.
We're ready to take a train or a ferry at some point during the trip, but I still don't know if this is a realistic project as a whole.
What parts of the route could easily be skipped and on the other hand which certainly can't be left out?
Any advice, comments or alternatives are more than welcome ...

Offline adventurepdx

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Re: Across North America
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2013, 08:14:43 pm »
...go to Ottawa, ON on the Trans Canada Trail (300 miles)...and finish with the Trans Canada Trail again that will take us to Vancouver (720 miles)...

The Trans Canada Trail is more concept than reality at this point, as there are still many sections that need to be built. Before committing yourself to any of its routing, make sure you do your research.
http://tctrail.ca/explore-the-trail/
Just looking at the map provided indicates quite a bit of unfinished routing between Jasper and Vancouver.

If the miles are added up we get something around 6000 miles.
We're ready to take a train or a ferry at some point during the trip, but I still don't know if this is a realistic project as a whole.

6,000 miles (which is nearly 10,000 km) is a pretty ambitious tour, especially if you have 3 1/2 months. If you rode every single day from June 1st to September 15th (106 days) you'd be looking at a mileage of 56.6 miles a day. That doesn't factor in any days off for doing other stuff, sightseeing (which there will be quite a bit of going through the Canadian Rockies), emergency/mechanical issues/unexpected stuff, or just plain break time. Some people can and do ride 60 miles a day, every day, for months on end. Some people can ride even more miles than that on a daily basis. But not everyone does.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Across North America
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2013, 09:37:43 pm »

Be prepared for cold weather and possibly some snow traveling over the cascades in Mid-september.
Cold at night possibly.  Snow at mid-September unlikely, and if you do get any it would be extremely unlikely to stick around.  It could also be hot that time of year.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline indyfabz

Re: Across North America
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2013, 06:29:50 am »
If I had to skip any part of what you have laid out, it would be the portion of the Northern Tier in ND and MT up to Cut Bank, where the route heads into Canada. Amtrak's Empire Builder service can be used as a bridge. However, travelling by train with a bike in the U.S. can be difficult. On that train you can only take bikes between stations that offer checked baggage service. Fargo, ND does. So does Shelby, MT, which is near Cut Bank. Another issue is that the bikes need to be boxed. Amtrak has their own boxes which require little disassembly of the bike. However, whether there will be some available at small stations is not certain. That train can very crowded during the high tourist season since it is often used by groups heading to Glacier National Park. I would be wary of simply showing up and expecting to find two seats on the day you want to travel. And it's not cheap. Just for fun I priced Fargo to Shelby on July 18th. $189/person.

Offline gvantittelboom

Re: Across North America
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2013, 06:25:36 am »
Thank you very much for these answers.
I think we'll look for an option like taking the train in Fargo for example and/or maybe straighten our route a little bit to save us a few miles.
Does anybody have an idea what the budget per day for camping would be? We have a tent.
And if it's possible to do some wild camping along the northern ACA routes?

Offline John Nelson

Re: Across North America
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2013, 06:44:52 am »
Yes, it is possible to do wild and/or free camping along the Northern Tier. I did find campgrounds to be rather expensive along this route, especially in the East during high tourist season. The highest was $49 to camp one night in Maine in August. Most of the other campgrounds in the East were between $20 and $30, although I spent $34 one night at a Provincial campground in Ontario. In the West, $10 to $15 was more common, although I spent $24 at a state park in Glendive MT. Glacier National Park only charges $5 for hikers and bikers, although this is a per person rather than a per site charge. The campground in Malta MT only charges $3.

Offline geegee

Re: Across North America
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2013, 04:13:54 pm »
...go to Ottawa, ON on the Trans Canada Trail (300 miles)...and finish with the Trans Canada Trail again that will take us to Vancouver (720 miles)...

The Trans Canada Trail is more concept than reality at this point, as there are still many sections that need to be built. Before committing yourself to any of its routing, make sure you do your research. http://tctrail.ca/explore-the-trail/ Just looking at the map provided indicates quite a bit of unfinished routing between Jasper and Vancouver.

I wouldn't exactly call the Trans Canada Trail more concept than reality, much of it does exist (73%), some links are still unofficial or under negotiation for better routing. The intention is to complete the remaining links by 2017 for Canada's 150th birthday. However, the entire trail was never conceived to be specifically for one mode of travel and many sections of the trail are not for bicycles, for example some of them are canoe routes through Northern Ontario. Where the idea of the trail is misunderstood is it's not supposed to be something you do in its entirety in one shot — the "concept" is that it is one contiguous recreational facility that you share with others who are also on it at the same time all across the country. What can I say, it's a soft, emotional Canadian thing  :D  ;D

There are several cycling routes from Montreal to Ottawa, the TCT is certainly the most circuitous but quite scenic and rustic, winding through the Laurentian Mountains. Make sure your tires are adequate for gravel, the section into Ottawa might not be as well travelled and tamped down as the "Petit Train du Nord". There are parallel secondary highways as alternatives though. Between Ottawa and Kingston, there is a missing link in the trail from Carleton Place to Smith's Falls — a local group is negotiating an abandoned railway, they just pulled out the tracks last year (I'll try riding it this summer with a mountain bike to see what it looks like). If you think you'll make it to Ottawa before the first week of July let me know.

As for Jasper to Vancouver, one option you could consider is to ride west along the Yellowhead Highway to Prince Rupert. From there, you can take the ferry to Port Hardy on the northern tip of Vancouver Island. The ferry ride is fantastic, you'll see whales as the ship weaves around the tight passages between the snow capped coastal mountains and islands. There is a ferry to the city of Vancouver from Nanaimo, or you could go down a bit further towards Victoria for other connections. BTW, I'm actually planning to be on the Yellowhead Highway in early July.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2013, 04:21:48 pm by geegee »

Offline gvantittelboom

Re: Across North America
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2013, 06:25:44 am »
Thanks a lot for the nice info and tips!


If you think you'll make it to Ottawa before the first week of July let me know.

Ok, I'll keep you posted. Our plan is susceptible to change as we're not certain yet what our exact starting point will be.
We're still waiting for a confirmation for the cargo that will (or will not) take us to New York. The previous one we had booked was canceled because of insufficient load.
So, if it isn't confirmed we'll probably take the plane to Halifax and start our route from there.

Offline Norsman

Re: Across North America
« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 04:29:54 pm »
- go to Ottawa, ON on the Trans Canada Trail (300 miles)...

- and finish with the Trans Canada Trail again that will take us to Vancouver (720 miles)

I did a cross Canada ride last year and found the Trans Canada Trail to be almost useless.  For the ride to Ottawa I would use Route Verte. I did some riding on the Waterfront Trail and found the road sections to be quite good.  The actual trail sections that I rode on were not as well maintained as Route Verte in Quebec. I used information from Brian Hedney for the trail but cannot get the link to him to work anymore. The official Waterfront Trail site (http://www.waterfronttrail.org/index.html) is decent but I found his site more useful.

I live in BC and would definitely not try to get from Jasper to Vancouver using the TCT. There are sections between Kamloops and Hope that only exist on paper. I recommend that you use Highway 16 and 5 to get you to Kamloops. This route is relatively quiet and has some beautiful scenery. From Kamloops I would use the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) to Hope. It can be busy at times but most people use the Coquihalla (Hwy 5) for this portion of the route so the ride along Hwy 1 is less busy, quite enjoyable, and has great scenery. There is a series of tunnels between Boston Bar and Hope but only two of them are long and they each have warning lights. If you are worried about riding through these tunnels you can walk your bikes on the narrow walkways at the side of the road.  Just before Hope I would turn onto the Lougheed Highway (Hwy 7) and use it to get to Vancouver. It doesn't get very busy until you get to Maple Ridge. Check on Bike Forums - Western Canada to find a good route into Vancouver. They have done lots to make cycling in the greater Vancouver area safer and more enjoyable but I haven't ridden in the area so have no recommendations.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2013, 04:32:06 pm by Norsman »

Offline dkoloko

Re: Across North America
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2013, 06:42:36 am »

I've heard the North Dakota-Eastern Montana stretch of the Northern Tier can get boring (and with sometimes difficult headwinds and that direction). 


North Dakota was one of my most memorable states to ride when I rode the Northern Tier; this includes the scenery, , the tranquility, and the people, including the Indians who extended hospitality.

Offline dkoloko

Re: Across North America
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2013, 06:56:34 am »

About the ACA Northern Tier: if possible we would like to add more of Canada. So the route we are currently considering is as follows:
- leaving New York City with the NY State Bike Route 9 to Poughkeepsie, NY (85 miles)
- join the ACA Atlantic Coast to Bar Harbor, ME (542 miles)
- start the ACA Northern Tier and follow it until Ticonderoga, NY (401.5 miles)
  (or maybe as an alternative route take the ACA Green Mountains Loop from North Haverhill, NH to Port Kent, NY)
- from there rejoin the NY State Bike Route 9 to Rouses Point on the New York - Quebec border (92 miles)


I've bicycled from New York, where I live, to Bar Harbor, ME, picking up the Atlantic Coast Route. I have also ridden the Norther Tier. I would not do as you plan. You'll be repeating the section in New England where both routes are the same.

I  would avoid Route 9 in New York if you can. It is a very busy road. I would not follow closely NY State Bike Routes. They use too much busy roads.

If you go off and on the Northern Tier, consider including the highlights, Erie Canal bike path in New York, Niagara Falls, Canada (Falls are also in New York, but not as spectacular), Going to the Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana, crossing the Continental Divide.

When your plans are more definitive I can give more help bicycling in New York.