Author Topic: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?  (Read 8367 times)

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Offline NickC

L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« on: February 21, 2009, 01:24:11 am »
I'd like to hear any observations about Hwy 200 from Missoula to Great Falls to shorten the L&C Route a bit.  Services and campgrounds appear sparse? Anyone with direct experience on that route? We're considering traversing the continental divide that way the last week of May or first week of June.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2009, 03:31:38 pm »
I rode it on a supported tour in 2003 and recall it was very pleasant. Our group used motels, but there seemed to be many campgrounds and numerous state parks. We had no trouble finding food.

A short excursion into Ovando takes you to a general store with real character.

Fred

Offline valygrl

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2009, 06:56:52 pm »
Cafe in Ovando = best meal on my whole tour last summer.

I was only on 200 from about 30 miles, but I found it to have frighteningly heavy truck traffic with no shoulder.

Offline Fred Hiltz

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2009, 09:22:52 am »
Ha! The 32 residents of Ovando will wonder where all the cyclists come from this summer.

Interesting about the trucks you encountered, Valygrl. Goes to show how things differ from time to time. I recall traffic, but nothing serious, six years later.

Fred

Offline CMajernik

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2009, 01:41:51 pm »
The Lewis & Clark section 6 map shows the routing and services between Missoula and Great Falls. It still might be slightly snowy over Rogers Pass - it depends on what the May storms bring. Portions of Hwy. 200 do not have shoulders. The MT DOT publishes a brochure on traffic data for bicyclists, here's the link: http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/maps/
If you click on Bicycling Map a pdf will appear. To get a hard copy email mdtbikeped@mt.gov
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

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline NickC

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2009, 01:11:36 am »
Many thanks for your comments.  We haven't ruled out the mapped AC L&C route, but Hwy 200 looked like a legitimate option.  At the very least, we could count on eating well in Ovando.

Offline judyrans

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 02:19:25 am »
I'd like to hear any observations about Hwy 200 from Missoula to Great Falls to shorten the L&C Route a bit.  Services and campgrounds appear sparse? Anyone with direct experience on that route? We're considering traversing the continental divide that way the last week of May or first week of June.

In addition to the Adventure Cycling maps, you might also consider buying Tod Rodger’s Bicycle Guide to the Lewis & Clark Trail, http://www.deerfootpublications.com/index.html .

If you want to be cheap, you can print it from the internet by going to http://www.deerfootpublications.com/book.html. However, if you are going to use the material, then you should buy the book, because it’s the ethical thing to do. Otherwise, why should anyone bother to write a book for you to use?

According to Rodgers:

“Summary Data for Three Routes:
[Route]   Distance   Climbing
Lemhi Pass 460 mi. 15,000 ft.
Big Hole 420 mi. 13,000 ft.
Route 200 Shortcut 170 mi. 7,000 ft.”

Read more about them here: http://www.deerfootpublications.com/chapters/04h_1.pdf and
http://www.deerfootpublications.com/chapters/04h_2.pdf .

Note that he lists lodging, campgrounds, and bicycle shops for the routes.

I’ve travelled both westbound (2002) and eastbound (2006) on the Lewis & Clark Trail with Historical Trails Cycling, http://www.historicaltrailscycling.com/ . Both times we took Hwy 200, with stops at Great Falls (dormitory), Lincoln (campground), and Missoula (dormitory). A self-contained cyclist might need an extra day or two.

I do NOT remember any problems with traffic or big trucks. From Simms to Rodgers Pass I remember a lot of ups and downs. My method was to get to the top of the hill, and instead of coasting, peddle downhill getting as much momentum as possible to make it easier to get up the other side. A 19” granny gear really helps on the uphills. Westbound there was a bar open partway between Simms and the pass. We stopped to use the bathroom and bought some pop to compensate the owner. Eastbound it was closed. It can be tough finding bathrooms in Big Sky Country, and often there aren’t any trees or big bushes.

The Montana Bicycle Map, http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/docs/bike_map.pdf ,  gives the Average July Daily Truck Traffic and the Average July Daily Total Traffic for the various sections of HWY 200 and other roads. It also shows shoulder width, grade percentage, and if there are rumble strips.

I consider a wide rumble strip on the shoulder as proof the governmental body wants cyclists to be riding in the lane. If the lane is less than 14 feet wide you should not share it. Ride toward the middle of the lane to make it clear that the overtaking motorist must change lanes to pass. Yes, you can!

Keep in mind the current economic situation might result in closed businesses including campgrounds (private and government), small motels, and restaurants.

In summary, Hwy 200 is a good shortcut between Great Falls and Missoula, MT.

Judy



Offline jimbo

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2009, 09:11:20 pm »
In late Aug 08 I only rode on Rt 200 from the junction of #83 to # 279 (Ovando and Lincoln) but found it a good road and no traffic issues.  Good campground and restaurant in Lincoln.
Jim K

Offline NickC

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2009, 02:35:23 pm »
Quote
In summary, Hwy 200 is a good shortcut between Great Falls and Missoula, MT. Judy

Many thanks, Judy. One of my riding companions has already purchased that book.  But the subjective descriptions from you and other cyclists are so helpful in finding a route that is both efficient and pleasant, or at least not life-threatening. I fully agree with your interpretation of rumble strips.

Offline NickC

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2009, 02:39:46 pm »
In late Aug 08 I only rode on Rt 200 from the junction of #83 to # 279 (Ovando and Lincoln) but found it a good road and no traffic issues.  Good campground and restaurant in Lincoln.
Jim K

Thanks, Jim.  Just curious...Did you enter or exit Hwy 200 using Hwy 279?  Have you ridden #279 to Helena?

Offline valygrl

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 12:34:00 am »
Interesting, I rode Helena - 279 - 200 - Ovando - to the Seeley Lake turnoff, in late July 2008, a month before Jimbo, and I had some scary traffic.  I wonder if it was a state of mind thing or a day of the week thing or just bad luck with the trucking schedule.

In any case, 279, Lincoln Road/Flesher Pass Road, was empty and lovely, an awesome climb.  I would recommend it very much.  The part of 200 that was yuck was the section between that road and LIncoln - the section west of Lincoln was fine. 

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 02:25:29 pm »
The road is actually great.  Big shoulder for most of the way and very scenic.  Just a note, the Potomac restaurant and convenience store recently went out of business, so you don't have any services between Bonner and the Seeley Lake turnoff, which is just over 30 miles.

Offline jimbo

Re: L&C Shortcut from Missoula to Great Falls on Hwy 200? Comments?
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2009, 09:48:10 am »
In late Aug 08 I only rode on Rt 200 from the junction of #83 to # 279 (Ovando and Lincoln) but found it a good road and no traffic issues.  Good campground and restaurant in Lincoln.
Jim K

Thanks, Jim.  Just curious...Did you enter or exit Hwy 200 using Hwy 279?  Have you ridden #279 to Helena?

Corrado..yes we did exit 200 at 279 and went south over Fletcher's Pass ( a moderate grade) to Helena. (Great long downhill)
Because we were exiting the Helena area by taking 284 (?) on the east side of Canyon Ferry  south  to #12 and Townsend (look at day 16-18 at www.c2c4conservation.org) we cut across  north of Helena using  Custer Ave /Canyon Ferry Rd ( 430 I think) to camp at a BLM campground on a lake near Black Sandy State Park.  John Egan comments often on touring in Montana and I followed his guidance on the connection from 279 to Canyon Ferry Lake. I think I got the Custer/Canyon Ferry Rd/430 right but perhaps John can pick up on this thread and correct the details. We were heading to Yellowstone and took # 12 east to #89. ( Though I realize all of is leading you away from your Lewis & Clark trail)
Jim