Author Topic: NT vs NT+Lakes  (Read 3708 times)

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Offline John Nelson

NT vs NT+Lakes
« on: December 25, 2011, 11:41:19 pm »
The ACA sells two different maps sets for the Northern Tier. There's the traditional Northern Tier route (dipping south of Chicago and running along the south shore of Lake Erie), and there's the Northern Tier variation which uses parts of the North Lakes route and the Erie Connector (crossing Lake Michigan by ferry and running along the north shore of Lake Erie). I'm not going to ask which route is "better" because I'm sure there are compelling reasons for both. What I am interested in is what factors would be pertinent for selecting one route or the other.

I've noticed that the ACA guided tour of the Northern Tier has chosen to use the Northern Tier + Lakes Route variation. Can anybody tell me why that route was chosen over the traditional NT route?

Offline John Nettles

Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 12:08:36 am »
I have done both routes.  I did the short Lakes route via Manitowoc/Ludington ferry.  To me, the factors are: the amount of time you have, time of year/temperature (Lakes is cooler), whether you have a passport (required now), etc.  Both have similar terrain, i.e. hilly in Wisconsin and flat in the rest.  Ontario had some hills as you dipped down to the valley to cross a river but was otherwise flat.

I would also say that while you have similar terrain, the traditional NT has more of it, i.e. longer farming sections, as it is just a longer route.

You might also consider the brand new "Detroit Alternative" to the UGRR if you want to do Michigan but don't want to pay for the passport ($110+).

Offline John Nelson

Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 12:16:14 am »
Thanks John for your thoughts. I do already have a current passport. I plan to cross into Canada at Waterton and Niagara anyway.

Offline John Nettles

Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 12:24:24 am »
Then it narrows down the choice between woodlands and blueberries (northern Wisconsin and Michigan/Ontario) and farmlands and corn (traditional NT) assuming time is not an issue.  I personally preferred (slightly) the traditional route but I slightly prefer farmlands over heavy forests and I also thought the people in Indiana and Illinois countryside were much friendlier.

Both sections are nice routes.  You can always come back to Minneapolis and do the section you didn't do earlier (that's what I did).

Offline CMajernik

Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« Reply #4 on: December 27, 2011, 05:20:45 pm »
ACA uses the Northern Tier + North Lakes + Lake Erie Connector routing because feedback from leaders and participants on past trips were saying they got tired of all the farms and cornfields on the traditional Northern Tier. The mileage is about the same.
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

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline John Nelson

Re: NT vs NT+Lakes
« Reply #5 on: December 27, 2011, 05:28:23 pm »
Thanks Carla. I like farms and cornfields, but I'll keep considering both options while I wait for the new section 3 and 4 maps.