Author Topic: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.  (Read 8557 times)

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Offline Jgilleo

Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« on: February 11, 2015, 07:47:42 pm »

I am starting to plan to ride my bike to Maine from Washington, D.C. in May. I am trying to find people who have done this route before.

How long should I expect to take off work?

Is 60 miles a day a good average to work towards?

Are motels, camping spots or host easily available?

Thanks so much for the help. I look forward to hearing from you.



  • Guest
Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2015, 10:28:51 am »
I am starting to plan to ride my bike to Maine from Washington, D.C. in May. I am trying to find people who have done this route before.

Do you mean Adventure Cycling's Atlantic Coast route?

Offline Jgilleo

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2015, 10:34:51 am »
Yes.  Sorry for not clarifying.  I will be traveling on the Adventure Cycling recommended route.


  • Guest
Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2015, 02:09:38 pm »
I am very familiar with short section between the Philadelphia area and the Port Jervis, NY area as I try to ride some or all of it every year.

For obvious reasons, there is nothing in the way of camping on or near the route north from Conshohocken until you get to the Milford, NJ area. From Milford, you can cross the river into PA and head back south about 1.5 miles to Dogwood Haven Campground. (Most of that 1.5 miles can be done on a bike path.) The place is a bit dated, but the owner is very nice. Last year he was still giving cyclists a discount rate of $15, which is cheap for that area. Milford has good pizza and a surprisingly decent grocery store for a town of its size.

Heading north from there you won't find any campgrounds until you cross the river from Belvidere, NJ to Mt. Bethel, PA. Driftstone on the Delaware is between Mt. Bethel and Portland, PA. Never stayed there, but I know it's wildly expensive. Over $30/night and possibly as high as $40. There is a historic old hotel in Belvidere, but it's expensive. The town itself is worth a look see. There are many nicely renovated Victorian house on the streets around the large town square. Grab a sandwich from Skoogy's Deli on Greenwich St. (the other location doesn't have a bathroom) and have lunch in square.

The next camping spot on route is the campground at Worthington State Forest, which you pass right by a few miles after crossing the pedestrian bridge along I-80 from Delaware Water Gap, PA into NJ. Nice place along the river. $25/night for non-residents. If you stay there, ask for the group site with the bear locker. There are a decent number of bears in that part of the world, and they can get very big. Not too long ago someone bagged an 800+ lb. bear on the PA side of the river not that far away. You will need to go off route a very short distance into the center of Delaware Water Gap, PA for food. No grocery store, but there is a convenience store with some canned goods. There is also a diner, a pizza place, great bakery that has BBQ on certain days during certain times of the year as well as a couple of other nicer restaurants.

North from the Worthington campground there are no food sources on route until you hit Port Jervis, a distance of about 34 miles. There are water and bathrooms at Old Millbrook Village, which is about 9 miles from the campground. If you desperate for something to eat, when you get to Peters Valley Craft Center you can stay on CR 615/Bevans Road instead of starting the climb. About 2 miles down that road you will come to Layton, where there is a very good place called the Layton Country Store. It was closed for a while but recently reopened. I was there in October and the food was quite good. Hope they are able to make a go of it. Reverse course to Peters Valley Craft Center and continue on route. Or you can take CR 560 directly from Layton and then make a right onto to Old Mine Rd. and you will be back on the route. I caution against that as CR 560 always seems to have a fair amount of fast moving traffic.

Three or so miles before you cross the NY state line there are two campgrounds on the right side of CR 521. From what I have read, the first one you pass (Cedar Ridge) is a dump, assuming it's even still in business. The second one (Rockview Valley) is a little hickish, but o.k. Check their web site for opening dates.

It seems the full-service grocery store in Port Jervis is out business. If you cross the river into Matamoras, PA and head a but west on U.S. 6 there is a large grocery store (Price Chopper) on the right and just about any other service you could want. It's actually an interesting if you understand local economics. Taxes in NY and generally higher than in PA so people drive across the river from NY to PA to save money. Where it's particularly visible is with cigarettes. There are several tobacco outlets on the PA side of the river. Gas is the same way. There is one small station in Port Jervis but several of them in Matamoras as gas is noticeably cheaper in PA.

North of there, ACA changed the route some since I road home to Philly from Bar Harbor many years ago. I have the new map at home and will check to see how it compares to what I did. But in general, I would say that 60 miles/day is a reasonable number assuming you are in decent shape. The section from the bike trail in Conshohocken to New Hope, PA is not overly hilly, and there are no long, hard climbs. When you cross from New Hope into Lambertville, NJ, you can take the D&R Feeder Canal trail all the way to Frenchtown. That is basically flat. I recommend it as the surface is good and it's shaded. Also, NJ 29 has no shoulder between Lambertville and the north end of Stockton. If you find the trail boring, you can get back on NJ 29 at Bull's Island Recreation Area, where there are water and bathrooms. At that point, NJ 29 has a wide shoulder all the way to Frenchtown. The rest of the way up to Port Jervis has some ups and down and includes two steep climbs in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, neither of which is more than a mile. Outside of those and the mega-steep but very short "bump" out of Mt Bethel, PA a little ways after you cross the bridge from Belvidere, NJ, the climbing is not really arduous. The only bad traffic area is in and around Philipsburg, NJ. The section between P'Burg and Belvidere is a sheer delight. Very little traffic and pretty. And due to narrow, overhead railroad bridge passes, you don't get any trucks.

Offline Jgilleo

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2015, 02:18:56 pm »
Thank you so much for the very detailed message.  I really appreciate the time you took to reply. I will file this away for when I am closer to mapping out each day of my trip. 

The information on camp grounds and grocery stores is especially useful.  I hope to use some of your suggestions and if time permits, I will get back to you in May with any updates.

Thanks again!

Offline BobG

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2015, 11:06:59 pm »
Here's an alternate route through MD to PA that I've used several times. It's not as complicated as the ACA route and stays further away from the Baltimore and northern DC suburbs.

Follow the C&O canal tow path as far as Swain's Lock. There's some traffic to deal with around Gaithersburg and Germantown but you will find a bikeway on the north side of MD 119. Once you get to MD 27 beyond Germantown it's a straight shot all the way to Damascus, Westminster and Manchester then secondary roads to the PA line.  MD 27 has some traffic but it is a designated bike route, with a shoulder most of the time and occasional bike lane markings. A MD or PA state map shows the roads more clearly from Glen Rock to Red Lion PA. Google takes some unnecessary squiggles. When you get to the Susquehanna River you'll connect with the ACA Atlantic Coast Route.

Not much camping opportunity on this route in MD. Southbound 2 years ago I stayed at a motel in Marietta PA, Westminster MD and the C&O bike camp at Swain's Lock.

I live about 75 miles NW of Portland in NH. The trip to DC took me 2 weeks last time including one rest day. My route went west to the CT River Valley then south through VT, MA and CT. I didn't pick up the ACA route until Poughkeepsie and I left it once in PA and again in MD.

better PA detail-
« Last Edit: February 13, 2015, 07:01:51 am by BobG »

Offline Jgilleo

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2015, 09:28:38 am »
Hi Bob,

Those maps are great!  Thanks for sharing.  Do you by chance have a general route you took from your place to DC?  Do you mind if I ask where you slept most nights on the route?



  • Guest
Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2015, 10:14:14 am »
Forgot to mention that there is another campground in Portland, PA. It's on Turkey Bridge Rd. a short distance NW from town. Problem is, there is really nothing else in the way of services in Portland except a tiny gas station/"Food Mart" that I think has limited hours and a dive bar which may or may not have food. If you find you need to stay in Portland for whatever reason, you can cross the river via the pedestrian/bike bridge to Columbia, NJ, take Decatur Street north, cross over I-80 and go to the truck stop plaza. There is a McDonald's and a Taco Bell, and the place might have some groceries. Round trip it's probably 3 miles. To get to the bridge, to past the c-store about 50 yards and cross the railroad tracks. Even if you keep moving, it' worth walking out onto the bridge for the views of the river. BTW...Portland is the birth place of the guy who wrote the song "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."

If you have the time, can get adequate supplies and want to expend the energy, you can camp at Camp Taylor and then take a tour of the Lakota Wolf Preserve the next morning. The two are in the same location outside of Columbia, NJ.:

That's what I did the last time I toured down from Port Jervis. I awoke to howling wolves at dawn. The only issue with that is that you would probably have to walk part of Mt. Pleasant Road that leads up there from NJ 94. I cam down it and it is incredibly steep.

Finally, I would try to time your trip so that you ride the Conshohocken to New Hope section on a weekend day to avoid as much weekday suburban sprawl traffic as possible.

Offline BobG

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2015, 11:07:55 am »
I left Jackson and headed west across Bear Notch, Kancamagus Pass and Kinsman Notch for a long day finishing at Orford NH on the CT River. Most of that is a section of the ACA Northern Tier. I followed the CT river on south through VT and MA and into the hilly NW corner of CT to near Litchfield. From there west to Poughkeepsie where I picked up the ACA route. I stayed on that route until Rieglesville NJ/PA where I took a more direct alternate to French Creek SP, then returning to the ACA route. After the bridge at Columbia I diverted to my route in MD.

The ACA route across MA is probably more direct to Portland. Their route through MD is also likely more direct than mine but if you study the cue sheet on the ACA map you'll see that the twists and turns are just endless.

Lodging on my trip was very pricey for a solo traveller. The only cheap camping was at Orford, Bantam Lake and the C&O. Every where else was $25+ as well as the three motels. The Blue Note at Marietta was only $40 or so and despite it's name it was very clean.

Jackson NH
Orford NH- Pastures CG
Ascutney VT- Wilgus State Park
Putney VT -KOA
Westhampton MA- KOA
Bantam Lake CT- White Memorial CG (2 nights)
Highland NY- Super 8
Goddefroy NY- KOA
Delaware Water Gap NJ- Worthington SF
Quakertown PA- Red Barn CG
Geigertown PA- French Creek SP
Marietta PA- Blue Note Motel
Westminster MD- Day's Inn
Swain's Lock MD- C&O bike camp

Offline BobG

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2015, 06:59:44 am »
Here's more details of my route from Jackson NH to DC.......

Jackson to Orford                          ACA Northern Tier
Orford to Putney                  
Putney to Westhampton      
Westhampton to Bantam Lake*
Bantam Lake to Highland     
Highland to Riegelsville                  ACA Atlantic Coast
Riegelsville to Quakertown   
Quakertown to French Creek
French Creek to Marietta               ACA Atlantic Coast

* W Hartland Rd in SW MA is dirt
« Last Edit: February 15, 2015, 06:39:35 am by BobG »

Offline Jgilleo

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2015, 09:45:55 am »
This is all great information and exactly what I was looking for.  So thank you.

Bob, about how long did your trip take? I think you said about 2 weeks. How many miles did you log in total and average per day?  I am trying to gauge how Long it will take for me to reach Portland and meet my wife. She will be flying from dc so timing is key.

It's good to know that you thought lodging was more expensive the. You thought. That helps with planning and saving. Did you stay with any host? I saw a site where people host bikers on this trip. Any thoughts about that? 

Again, thanks for the information.

Offline BobG

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2015, 11:24:11 am »
697 miles, 13 full cycling days plus the last short morning to the airport to pick up a rental car. As you can see, aside from Day 1 my mileages were fairly moderate.  That comes to an average of 54 miles/day not counting the last  25.

My route in NW CT crosses the ACA route at Riverton or you can just stay on it in Poughkeepsie. If you have the ACA map and you want to play around with it, compare my mileage north from there with the ACA mileage east and north to the Portland area. If you take my route north connecting to the Northern Tier, add about 60 miles for a direct (non ACA) cycling route to Portland from Conway NH.

Conway to Portland-

Jackson NH
Orford NH- Pastures CG                                         85 
Ascutney VT- Wilgus State Park                             42
Putney VT -KOA                                                     38
Westhampton MA- KOA                                         58
Bantam Lake CT- White Memorial CG (2 nights)    63
Highland NY- Super 8                                             55
Goddefroy NY- KOA                                               48
Delaware Water Gap NJ- Worthington SF               45
Quakertown PA- Red Barn CG                                56
Geigertown PA- French Creek SP                           42
Marietta PA- Blue Note Motel                                 65
Westminster MD- Day's Inn                                   50
Swain's Lock MD- C&O bike camp                          50
Reagan Airport                                                       25

I never use warm showers. I don't like to reserve ahead nor do I like to be a polite house guest after a day of travel. Lots of folks enjoy the service though.

Offline Jgilleo

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2015, 12:13:54 pm »
This is great information!

How did you bike get back to NH? Plane, train or automobile?

Offline BobG

Re: Washington, D.C. To Portland Maine.
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2015, 01:27:40 pm »
I had a bike shop box it up. They didn't have a shipping contract so I took it to a UPS store. I returned my rental car back to Reagan after a week of visiting family around VA and flew back to Boston. I took the bus from there back to NH.