Author Topic: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?  (Read 5115 times)

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Offline berend77

Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« on: February 23, 2010, 09:37:54 pm »
Hi,
Planning a trip for after the CA bar exam!!  Ideally, I'll be leaving from Durham, NC, via Transamerica to Yellowstone to the corner of the NW and then down the coast back to San Diego.  Probably take from mid-Aug til Oct/Nov-ish.  Some segments may be skipped, depending on timing.
The question for me remains what is the best route to the Northern Tier from the Yellowstone area?  I've been mtn biking since I was a young, and thus thought to check out a segment of the Great Divide Route.  Otherwise will stick to the pavement if that is safer/easier/etc.  I'll have all the gizmos for camping, etc.
Has anyone done such a thing?  Any recommendations from those of you who've done the GD trail?  Other tips?
Thanks much,
Berend
Sunny San Diego, CA

Offline indyfabz

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #1 on: February 24, 2010, 09:22:09 am »
From W. Yellowstone, stay on AC's TransAm route to Missoula, MT then take their Great Parks route to Whitefish, MT where you can pick up the Northern Tier route.  I did the same in reverse back in '00.  Nice route with plenty of places to camp.

If you have a few extra days before heading from Whitefish to Eureka on the Northern Tier, you could ride out and back to Glacier National Park and ride up and then back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, one of the most scenic mountain roads in the U.S.  Whitefish to Sprague Creek Campground (a great place to start the climb) in the park would be one day.  The next day you could ride up to the pass and back.  The third day ride back to Whitefish.  You might choose to ride back to Whitefish the same day after you do the climb to save a day, but there are bicycle restriction in the park.  You basically cannot ride west from Spague Creek Campground until 4 or 5 p.m.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 11:36:52 am »
What type of bike will you be riding? For the Great Divide Route it's best to have a bike with front suspension and wide tires. Here is something from our online info about the Great Divide Route:

The Great Divide Route is extremely hard on equipment. The weight of your gear exponentially multiplies the stress of riding steep, fast, rough downhills. Wheels, tires, and drivetrains (chains, cassettes, bottom brackets, chainrings) take a lot of abuse and might need replacing along the course of the entire route. Suspension equipment on the bicycle helps to mitigate the abusive nature of the terrain. That said, nylon pivots of some full-suspension bikes wear out extremely fast and are not recommended. Suspension seatposts, good handlebar grips, and front-suspension forks help smooth out the many miles of washboarded and chuckholed roads. Weighting a suspension fork with panniers works well, evens the weighting of the bike, and adds little extra stress to the fork. Trailers also work well and lighten the rear triangle of the bike.
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 jimbo

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 10:50:35 pm »
Regarding leaving Yellowstone and picking up NT. In 08 we went from Glacier (NT) south on 83 (Swan River Valley..beautiful ride) to 200  to 279 (Flescher Pass) to Helena and 280/284 Canyon Ferry Rd to 12 to 89 which took us south to Mammoth Hot Springs/Yellowstone. We camped and had no problems with the route. The worst traffic using NT routes was in Whitefish-Glacier area. Survivable but ugly. The other roads were great.  Details at Coast to Coast for Conservation at: http://www.fllt.org/blog/
jim

Offline irc

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2010, 08:19:18 pm »
Try going out the N entrance of Yellowstone then follow route 89 north via Great Falls to the east side of Glacier. Apart from 10 miles busy roads south of Great Falls nice riding all the way. This lets you ride Going To The Sun Road after you meet the Northern Tier.


I used the route going south last year. Some more detail and pics on my journal Fat Man On A Transam on crazyguyonabike.

Sorry I can't give you a link but CGOAB seems to be down right now.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2010, 10:32:48 pm »
You might try asking John Egan over on CrazyGuy when it comes back on-line.  John has traveled extensively in that part of the country (lives in WY).  One thing I see is that you could very easily have northern Rockies passes that are closed due to snow after October 1st.  He would know.

Sorry I can't help but I am positive John can.
Happy trails and may the wind be at your back!
John

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2010, 08:39:37 am »
From W. Yellowstone, stay on AC's TransAm route to Missoula, MT then take their Great Parks route to Whitefish, MT where you can pick up the Northern Tier route.  I did the same in reverse back in '00.  Nice route with plenty of places to camp.

If you have a few extra days before heading from Whitefish to Eureka on the Northern Tier, you could ride out and back to Glacier National Park and ride up and then back down the west slope of Going to the Sun Road to Logan Pass, one of the most scenic mountain roads in the U.S.  Whitefish to Sprague Creek Campground (a great place to start the climb) in the park would be one day.  The next day you could ride up to the pass and back.  The third day ride back to Whitefish.  You might choose to ride back to Whitefish the same day after you do the climb to save a day, but there are bicycle restriction in the park.  You basically cannot ride west from Spague Creek Campground until 4 or 5 p.m.
That is exactly what I would have advised.  I have ridden the TA and found that section pleasant.  You could use the Great Divide instead of the TA for that portion if you really wanted to and if you are riding a dirt friendly bike, but I think I would do that on a different more exclusively off road tour if I were you.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 08:46:39 am by staehpj1 »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2010, 08:44:12 am »
You might try asking John Egan over on CrazyGuy when it comes back on-line.  John has traveled extensively in that part of the country (lives in WY).  One thing I see is that you could very easily have northern Rockies passes that are closed due to snow after October 1st.  He would know.

Sorry I can't help but I am positive John can.
John might also pipe up on Bike Forums or you can PM him there.  He goes by the name Jamawani on bikeforums.

John has a ton of experience and is a wealth of info.  FWIW, his preference is to find very lightly traveled roads, more so than I would prefer myself.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2010, 08:48:20 am by staehpj1 »

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Transamerica to Northern Tier via the backwoods or the pavement?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2010, 10:13:32 pm »
We did the Great Parks connector from the TransAm up to Columbia Falls and Glacier NP (Apgar).  One of the prettiest, quietest parts of the trip.  Highly recommended.

One thing nobody else has commented on is, what are you going to be riding?  IMHO, riding a mountain bike for 4,200 miles so you could ride 200 miles off-road (making up the numbers here, but that's probably in the ballpark) would be foolish.  You're going to wish you had something that would roll coming across Kansas (and 9 other states). 

If you stay on the connector and go into Glacier, you'll have 6 miles of dirt road between Columbia Falls and Apgar, and that'll be plenty if you're on the road/touring bike.  (We went up that way, came back on the paved road, and had one problem -- a flat tire.)

To sum up my recommendations: TransAm to Missoula, Great Parks to Apgar, Northern Tier to Anacortes, all on (alleged) roads.