Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: sjs on November 08, 2019, 09:49:10 am

Title: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: sjs on November 08, 2019, 09:49:10 am
I am new to the ACA and this forum.  I am 70 and recently returned to cycling after many years away.  I am retired and riding around 100 miles a week.

I began with a road bike, which I loved, but local traffic and road conditions led to so many close calls, despite my best efforts to ride defensively, that I traded it in for a Mountain Bike.  I do not do what young folks do, nothing technical or dangerous, just ride hard pack, dirt and gravel roads and trails, which I enjoy very much.

I have always been fascinated by touring but never tried it and my current attitude toward cycling on the roads makes it unlikely I ever will.  Still, I joined ACA so I could enjoy reading about touring.

Then I read about the Great Divide Trail.  I am just learning about it at this point but what I have read so far suggests that I could find sections where I could ride for an extended distance, away from traffic, and even do so on a credit card touring basis.  I have a great deal of hiking and backpacking experience, but at this age, bikepacking is not my interest.

I will continue to research the Great Divide with a view toward doing a portion of it next summer.  I would like, however, to get in some shorter dirt tour riding before then that may be closer to my home in South Carolina.  I am researching possible dirt/gravel/etc. roads long enough to allow a 2-3 day trip but I have found nothing yet.  It occurs to me that only the Rocky Mountain Range or the west coast ranges might have long stretches of low or no traffic trails/roads of any significant length.  Certainly, I have found nothing yet like that in the Appalachians.

But I thought you folks might know of something.  I do not actually dislike pavement in and of itself, just the heavy traffic that it attracts in the East.  Does anyone have any ideas?

Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: jamawani on November 08, 2019, 11:44:41 am

It's getting late in the season for dirt.
With rain & snow, dirt turns into mud & ice.

But there are some very nice options near you.
(BTW - The Great Divide isn't very appropriate for credit card touring - long, empty stretches.)

Have you considered rail trails?
There are a couple of primo trails near you.

One of the best is the C&O Canal / Great Allegheny Passage - - C&O/GAP.
It runs from the Georgetown in DC to the Golden Triangle in Pittsburgh.
All off road, services in nearby communities. 300 miles.
But it needs to be done in fair weather as the C&O part, especially, can get really muddy.

Nearer - in western Virginia - is the Virginia Creeper Trail.
From Abingdon to Whitetop, just 35 miles but a nice weekend out & back.

There are the '600' roads in western Virginia that follow the valleys between the ridges.
Most of these have very little traffic.

Check out rail trails in S.C. and Georgia.
I've biked out on Sapelo Island.
The ferry normally doesn't take bikes, so you have to get a private run.
The Bailey family runs a little B&B in Hog Hammock.
Georgia Parks only accommodates groups at the one campground and at the mansion.
But riding the roads around the island - totally empty - sublime.

Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: Pat Lamb on November 08, 2019, 01:16:50 pm
Virginia Creeper is a beautiful trail, but it's only 30 miles long.  Most people take the shuttle from Damascus up to Whitetop and coast 15 miles downhill -- watch out for them on spring and summer weekends, especially if you're headed uphill!  It might be a reasonable two-day/three night trip; get a B&B in Damascus, ride to Whitetop and back, then the next day go into Abington and back.

To add to jamawami's list of east coast rides:

New River Trail is about 50 miles long, between (near) Galax to (near) Radford, VA.  Campgrounds and water are available.  I haven't ridden it, but I'm told it's a good, fine packed-gravel trail.  It would be fine for a 3-4 day trip.

Silver Comet/Chief Ladiga trail from outside Atlanta to Anniston is about 100 miles long.  The Georgia side is paved, in Alabama it turns to gravel but still quite ride-able.  I'm not sure about camping along the way; it might be better for B&B or motel touring.

Further west, the Katy and Mickelson trails are apparently popular rails-trails.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: sjs on November 08, 2019, 04:53:34 pm
Wow, thank you so very much.  That is far more information than I had even hoped for.  I am eager to read up on all of these possibilities.

I have biked the rails to trails in my area and enjoy them but the longest is only 20 miles out and back.  I have also been looking for forest service roads but again nothing within 3 hours is more than a day ride.  These you guys have listed give me much better options.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: danny dea on November 08, 2019, 10:16:28 pm
SJS, you may be interested in the KATY trail in Missouri.  240 miles of gravel from Clinton, Mo to St. Charles, Mo.  Easily done as a credit card trip.  Look at the web site for katy trail state park.  A bit of a drive for you but worth the trip.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: sjs on November 09, 2019, 08:26:07 am
Thank you danny dea, I had not heard of that.  I spent a few years in MO during my military service and liked that area a good deal.  It certainly is closer to me than the Great Divide.  I will check it out.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: BikePacker on November 09, 2019, 08:27:10 am
Closest to your home, SJS, what you cause come to my mind 1st, with safety as priority, and miles of bicycle-able trails/sidewalks, is Hilton Head Island.   I recognize you are fully aware of Hilton Head ... I just couldn't not mention it due to how important safety is to me, as well : ).
More remote from you that have been mentioned and I want to also endorse for your consideration are the C&O Tow Path and The SilverCometTail/ChiefLadigaTrail (the latter runs 90 miles from outside west Atlanta to Anniston, AL & there are campsites and/or motels every 30 miles that you will see with research).
Skyline Drive is almost credit-card-able (might have to camp once); no commercial traffic w/ only a 35 mph speed limit; about 100 miles; well maintained shoulders for getting off pavement when traffic approaches.  (BTW, if you find yourself getting interested in also looking at the directly connect to Skyline Drive, Blue Ridge Parkway .... it is great for non-commercial traffic as well, however, be aware, far fewer places to stay - 45 mph speed limit - shoulders pretty well maintained but not as well as the Skyline Drive - areas with tunnels are usually closed due to icing from Dec thru at least Feb.
While Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (organized ride every 1st full week in June) is on 'regular roads,'
it offers the safety that comes with hundreds of cyclists riding somewhat together and car travelers, thus, becoming quickly and fully aware that cyclists are present.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: sjs on November 09, 2019, 10:42:14 am
Thank you BikePacker.  Yes, Hilton Head has 60 miles of bike path and my wife and I ride there, especially Sea Pines which is beautiful and uncrowded.  Of course, those are day trips and I am seeking multiday trips, hoping to work up to multi week trips by late spring, but I do have many good miles of bike path here.

The other tips are wonderful.  I am excited about all the possible choices.  Skyline Drive is especially interesting now that you mention the speed limit and the shoulders.  I have driven it several times but was busy looking at foliage and did not notice how good it might be for a bike.  These days the first thing I look for when driving is the shoulders. :)
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: mbattisti on November 09, 2019, 07:45:27 pm
How about ACA's Arkansas high country route? 50 % gravel/singletrack
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on November 10, 2019, 09:57:43 am
Not near you, but:

Doable as a credit card tour in three days.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: sjs on November 10, 2019, 10:06:04 am
Thank you both, Arkansas and South Dakota both look great.  It is wonderful to have so many choices.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on November 11, 2019, 07:33:19 am
Thank you both, Arkansas and South Dakota both look great.  It is wonderful to have so many choices.
Read the description of the Arkansas route. It has extreme grades.
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: David W Pratt on December 01, 2019, 08:24:07 pm
When the weather moderates, it was 10 F here, this morning, you might consider the Cross Vermont Trail and the Cross New Hampshire Adventure Trail.  Each is "mostly" rail trail, with pretty light traffic on the road portions.  If you like, you can even put them together to ride from Burlington, VT, to Bethel, ME.   They have camping, stealth camping and motel lodging options.
Good luck
Title: Re: Others Like Great Divide
Post by: BikeliciousBabe on December 02, 2019, 08:08:52 am
Good idea. Haven't ridden in NH recently, but much (if not most) of VT has great riding, including quiet, unpaved roads. Did St. Albans into MA south of Brattleboro last year during a tour south to Philly.  Really like how many state parks have shelters for not much more $ than a regular site.