Author Topic: Transam in Montana: best route...  (Read 6297 times)

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Offline sherlok11

Transam in Montana: best route...
« on: January 20, 2012, 12:01:30 pm »
On the crossing on US 12 with US 93 (N46 45.407 W114 04.942) there are two possibilities: going North on 12 to Missoula, MT or south on 93...
Connection is on Twin Bridge on SR 287/SR 41

What you think is the best choice?
« Last Edit: January 29, 2012, 01:33:12 pm by sherlok11 »

Offline John Nelson

Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2012, 12:48:13 pm »
I assume you're talking about the TransAm going west to east. Going north on 12 takes you to Missoula. Going south on 93 bypasses Missoula. It depends on whether or not you want to see Missoula and/or visit the ACA headquarters, and how much of a hurry you are in. I will admit that US12 from Lolo to Missoula is not a pleasant road, and that visiting Missoula adds about 25 miles to your trip, but how can you pass up the Mecca of touring cycling (not to mention the free ice cream)? Besides, Missoula is a very pleasant city--a good place to stock up or lay over.

I don't understand your reference to Twin Bridges in this context.

EDIT: It struck me later that maybe you are not in fact asking about the TransAm route itself, but rather about alternate ways to get from Lolo to Twin Bridges. If you stay on ACA routes (either Lewis and Clark or TransAm), the trip from Lolo to Missoula on US12 is a spur, out and back, and then you continue south on 93 through Sula and Wisdom. But there are ways to get from Missoula to Twin Bridges that are not on ACA routes. Google maps with "avoid highways" driving directions gives two possibilities, one through Avon and Anaconda which is 13 miles longer than the TransAm (or 12 miles less if you include the Missoula spur on the TransAm), and one through Helena which is 55 (or 20) miles longer. Having never ridden those roads, I cannot comment on those routes, but the TransAm route is quite pleasant riding.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2012, 04:23:12 pm by John Nelson »


  • Guest
Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2012, 02:16:02 pm »
AC's Trans Am route south on 93, etc., to Hamilton, Darby, Sula, Wisdom, Jackson, Dillon and Twin Bridges is quite nice in most places. As noted, from the Jct. of U.S. 12 and U.S. 93, there is a spur into Missoula. You then back track south on U.S. 93 to continue on the Trans Am.

This summer we did a loop from/to Missoula. We followed the TA for a few days and then did our own thing to get back to Missoula. We did pass through Twin Bridges but did not stay on the TA to get there. Instead, we took the Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway off the TA (after descending Lost Trail Pass) to Wise River and then headed through Divide and Melrose and took the Melrose Bench Road, which is not paved, to Twin Bridges. The advantage of this route is that you get to do the scenic ride to Lost Trail and Chief Joseph Passes into Wisdom then Lost Trail Pass after Jackson. The Pioneer Mountains Scenic Byway and state route 43 to Divide is a fabulous ride. Melrose Bench is somewhat of a challenge due to the surface and some climbing, but worth it. Overall, prettier than staying on the TA to Dillon IMO. Lot's of camping on the Byway (U.S.F.S. campgrounds and dispersed camping) and in Divide (BLM along the river for $6 and Melrose (private).

Send me a private message if you would like some route options through this neck of the woods. Our route back to Missoula from Twin Bridges included Rock Creek Rd. Off the beaten path and very scenic. Most of it is not paved, but we had no problems on 37c tires. Going in your direction, you'd go through Phillipsburg, Anaconda and Butte then over Pipestone Pass (state route 2) and then come down state route 41 through Silver Star into Twin Bridges to hook back up with the TA toward Virginia City and Ennis.

Every day but the last is chronicled here:

If you stay in Twin Bridges, check out the free Bike Camp.  Great place with a shower, etc.

Agree that Missoula and the AC headquarters are nice places to visit. Some relatively cheap motels in town and a nice KOA an easy ride from the center of town and right near an REI if you need supplies.

Offline mcmoonter

Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2012, 04:02:41 pm »
Its well worth taking the side trip to visit the ACA. It was one of our Transam highlights.

In mid August 2011 we were diverted off the 93 because of road reconstruction. I dont have my maps to hand, but here is what we did.

Be sure to stay at the biker spot in Twin Bridges as was said above.

The route over the Big Hole Pass is spectacular.

Offline JHamelman

Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2012, 08:00:27 am »
When making your own route in Montana, a good resource is the Montana Bicycle Map. It is a suitability map that will show traffic counts, shoulder widths and grades for "major" roads in the state.

Hope this helps,

Jennifer Hamelman

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring and empowering people to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x205

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes


  • Guest
Re: Transam in Montana: best route...
« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2012, 10:31:49 am »
A plug for the Old Darby Rd. alternative between Hamilton and Darby.  There is some dirt, but it's well worth it. Heading to Darby there is an overlook where the mountains, sky and river come together:

See the last photo.

And Red Barn Bicycles is a neat place.