Author Topic: Which Route Would You Suggest?  (Read 5462 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline capnjammer

Which Route Would You Suggest?
« on: November 09, 2016, 07:26:26 pm »
Hi all,

I'm looking for suggestions for a circa 1400 mile route to cycle next year, most likely around August. I'm a keen cyclist and an experienced hiker (last year's adventure was hiking the Appalachian Trail), however I've never cycle - toured before.

I'll be flying over from London, England and spending around a month / 5 weeks, though this is flexible.

I'm quite tempted by the Underground Railroad Route, starting in Mobile and finishing up at Niagara Falls, though I'm concerned about how interesting the route is. I appreciate the historical element, however I'm not sure about the actual cycling and views/scenery. I am very tempted though by the fact I could effectively cycle across the country from the coast to the Canadian border. That would be a great achievement for me.

My apologies if this post is somewhat vague - I'm only just starting out planning a trip. I'm aware of the Adventure Cycling website and maps, and the crazyguyonabike website, so if anyone could suggest some other useful resources it would be much appreciated.

Otherwise, please tell me what you'd do if you had a month to cycle in the US!

Many thanks in advance!

Offline geegee

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2016, 08:26:36 pm »
August will be hot and steamy in the South. If you're not used to very humid temperatures in the mid to high 30˚C/90˚F and over it can be really draining. I would probably pick the Pacific Coast (Seattle to SF or LA) or the Sierra Cascades for that time of year.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2016, 09:54:00 am »
Agree that August will be hot in the south (and central) U.S.  I've arranged to go north for a week's cycling vacation two of the last three years to escape the heat and humidity.

If you're looking at ACA routes, the western (and northern!) parts of the TransAm or Great Parks North would be good.  You might start at Anacortes and take the Northern Tier to Glacier NP, then head south to Yellowstone and the Tetons, before flying out of Jackson.  If you've got a bit of extra time, head south into Colorado.


  • Guest
Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2016, 10:58:33 am »
If you're looking at ACA routes, the western (and northern!) parts of the TransAm or Great Parks North would be good.  You might start at Anacortes and take the Northern Tier to Glacier NP, then head south to Yellowstone and the Tetons, before flying out of Jackson.  If you've got a bit of extra time, head south into Colorado.

Did just this many years ago, although I started in Seattle. Finished on the Great Parks South at Cortez, CO because I had the time. (If you can make it that far, you can ride another day to Durango, CO for a flight.)

If you want to cut down on the climbing and/or don't want to deal with the crowds at Yellowstone, you could do the beginning what's suggested above but then take the L&C route from the TransAm and end up in North Dakota. (Airports in Bismarck and Fargo. Don't know about Minot.) Or just the Northern Tier proper, but I think that would be less scenic.

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2016, 01:28:01 pm »
Since you are from England, I would suggest either the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego.  Maybe with some extra time riding into the Sierra mountains and parks nearby.  Or riding around the Great Lakes.  I think you can piece together a few maps to get around them and back to your start more or less.  These routes would provide scenery you do not have in England.  Although riding near water is not that unusual in England since you are an island.  Your Railroad route might have somewhat familiar rural scenery as England.  Maybe.  And as mentioned by others, the weather may play a role.  Also tie together the Lewis Clark, Northern Tier, Trans Am, Pacific into a circle from Seattle.  Scenery, mountains, very different from England.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2016, 02:28:19 pm »
If you prefer more remote routes like your Appalachian hike, then look into the Great Divide MTB route.

Sent from my SM-N920V using Tapatalk

Offline zzzz

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2016, 02:48:56 pm »
Since you're looking for opinions, here's mine.

If you can push off your travel window to September I would fly into Vegas or Phoenix and do the loop thats Grand Canyon - Monument Valley - Canyonlands & Arches in Moab - Capital Reef - Grand Staircase - Bryce Canyon - Zion. All of these places are fantastic and like no where else on earth and typically 50-100 miles apart. And depending on your pace you could even have time for Yosemite - Kings Canyon - Giant Sequoia over in the Sierra Nevadas either by riding over or renting a car. Or maybe even more appealing (since your also a hiker) is taking some time off the bike and do the hike down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the 3 extraordinary hikes at Zion (Angel's Landing, Observation Point, and The Narrows). You could even do the trip in August if you got up early enough to be done riding by 12.

If August is required and you want cooler weather to ride in, I agree w Great Parks North 1 & 2. I flew into Calgary and took a shuttle bus to Jasper and started the ride at the beginning. You can also ship your bike to a bike shop in Jasper if you don't want to mess w traveling w it. The ride is less dramatic after the Ice Fields Parkway until you hit Waterton / Glacial National Parks. The ride up and over Logans Pass on Going to the Sun Road is arguably the coolest pass in the country. Once you hit Missoula I'd go west. Yes you will miss Yellowstone and the Tetons but Yellowstone is ridiculously crowded and the Wind River Valley in Wyoming afterwords is just a grind. Better to go over Lolo Pass and thru the stunning Lochsa Valley. From there you can either head straight on the TransAm to the Oregon coast which I understand is beautiful (haven't seen it myself)or stay on the Trans Am until Makenzie Pass (2nd coolest pass in the country) outside of Sisters and then go down to Crater Lake a 100 miles south of there before going to the coast.

Good luck choosing and you won't go wrong w any of the suggestions so far.


Offline jamawani

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2016, 03:30:18 pm »
I'm going to take your two major parameters and go from there - -
August & New to touring

Since you said you hiked the Appalachian Trail, I suspect you plan to do a lot of camping.
Adventure Cycling is a good source - esp. if you need the reassurance of a designated route.
But there is no need to stick to a set route - as you probably know.
I also think that 5 weeks is way too short for a cross-country ride unless you plan to ride 100+ miles per day.

That said, where is the best weather in August?
Three areas - the Northwest, the northern Great Lakes, and northern New England.
The East Coast, the South, and the Midwest are hot and humid and just plain nasty.
The Southwest is dangerously hot - 45C hot - with the occasional monsoon storm, but otherwise dry.

1) You could do the Pacific Coast - from Seattle down to L.A. in 5 weeks.
It is one of the more popular routes with lots of hiker/biker camping in parks along the way.
The roads are reasonable, but there will be traffic.

2) I think a Rocky Mountain ride would be fabulous - say from Glacier N.P to Santa Fe.
If you can do two countries - I would suggest from Calgary, Alberta to Santa Fe.
Incredible scenery and national parks all along the way. But it would be starting with a bang.

3) Another option would be to do a ride from Seattle or Portland to Denver.
From the Pacific you could ride east to Glacier N.P. then south along the Front Range.

I am a Westerner and find the open spaces of the West so much nicer.
The distances can be intimidating to more civilized types - but not to Aussies.
I will leave it to others to talk about the Great Lakes or New England.

Pic - Going to the Sun Road in Glacier N.P.

Offline raybo

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2016, 05:58:56 pm »
My suggest is to start in Missoula, MT (it has an airport) and ride from there to Jasper, AB, Canada. I did this in about 4 weeks, but the hiking opportunities in Glacier, Kootenay, Banff and Icefields Parkway are innumerable.  Thus, you could suppliment your biking with some amazing hiking.

There is an ACA for this route, as well (Great Parks North).
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at

Offline zzzz

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2016, 12:01:03 pm »
Between Raybo's reply and my reply, both recommending the Great Parks North ride shows just how individual this is and how difficult it is to get advice from strangers.

Those 2 maps total about 780 miles. Raybo did it in 4 weeks, I did it in 9 days. I assume he spent a fair amount of that time hiking, saw a lot more than I did, and generally had a much more relaxed time.

Your original post said 4-5 weeks/1400 miles which I took to be that you had in mind 50± mile days which many people seem to consider the sweet spot for touring, but less or more is possible.

One more thing if you decide to do this particular route. I rode this section this last August when I started a ride up to Alaska from Banff and I was on the Ice Fields Parkway on a Canadian holiday weekend called Founders Day. That weekend this year is August 5,6,7. Do yourself a favor and make sure you are not on the that road that weekend. The traffic was very bad.


  • Guest
Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #10 on: November 14, 2016, 01:31:52 pm »
My suggest is to start in Missoula, MT (it has an airport)

And a campground about 3 miles from the airport. And an REI (OP: Outdoor store where you can pick up last minute things like stove fuel) about a 3 block walk from that campground.

Offline capnjammer

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2016, 08:16:16 am »
Hi All,

Many thanks to you all for your replies..

It's taken me so long to reply as there have been some changes to my plans!

Not long after I posted on this forum my friend who lives near Seattle told me he was getting married in August. So as it looks like I'll be heading that way this summer anyway, it makes sense to plan a route in that area, so I've decided on the following. I'd love some of your opinions on it..

So from my friend's place in Kingston, WA I'll follow the Washington Parks route anti-clockwise around the Olympic National Park to Yakima, then take the 82 (or similar) down (S/E) until I reach the Lewis & Clark Trail which I'll follow to Missoula. From there I'll follow the Great Parks North route up to Eureka where I'll follow the Northern Tier route west until I pick up the Washington Parks route which takes me back to Kingston.

Altogether it's around 1670 miles, over about 42 days including 12 zero (or near enough) mileage days. Rest days scheduled for Whitaker's Bunkhouse, Kennewick, Missoula, Sandpoint, Winthrop and Mt. Vernon. Average daily mileage is around 55 miles, with a max mileage day topping out at around 70 miles. Daily miles are dictated by the campsite options.

I appreciate that the best laid plans can very easily change when you're on the road, that's part of why I love it.. But at the same time I just can't resist planning a trip!

I chose against taking the Pacific Coast route as I've seen a lot of the West Coast already from top to bottom, so decided on something a little different this time.

As I say, I'd much appreciate any opinions and views you might have on this planned route. One thing in particular I've not planned for is the contours of the land and any climbs I might have to do. I appreciate that they will affect my daily mileage and that a mountainous area will be a lot slower than a flat one!

Thanks for all input..

Offline jamawani

Re: Which Route Would You Suggest?
« Reply #12 on: December 04, 2016, 03:48:51 pm »
Mr. Jammer -

Why miss Going to the Sun Road - esp. in August?
Which would mean from Missoula heading east on Hwy 200 across the Continental Divide -
Then taking US 287 & US 89 north to Glacier National Park.
I would strongly urge heading up to Many Glacier first before riding west.

I have ridden both Hwy 83 on the west side and US 89 on the east side.
US 89 has wide-open vistas of the Front Range -
Plus riding east-to-west on Going to the Sun had better lighting a.m. and p.m.

Then the Northern Tier makes sense afterwards.
Can you do dirt? Trail Creek Rd from the North Fork to Fortine is sweet.
Super quiet paved option  - Trego to Libby  - Trego/Fischer River Rd.
Another option is via the Yaak Valley.


So that's the 2nd half. BTW - Are you locked to ACA maps?
The loop around the Olympic Peninsula is only so-so.
Nice views of Juan de Fuca on Hwy 112 west of Port Angeles, but rugged.
Also a few ocean views near Kalaloch on US 101 - but not many.
Mostly tunnels of trees, moderate+ traffic, and logging trucks.
(I'd take the Elma alternate and use the miles elsewhere.)

Be aware that Mount Rainier N.P. has no hiker/biker campsites - sucks.
In August the park is really busy and campsites are at a premium.
Also, park roads are narrow and have a great deal of traffic - including wide RVs.
One option is to use FR 52 from Ashford to Packwood and camp just outside of Longmire on N.F.
Then you could out & back if you wanted to do a run to Paradise.
Tipsoo Lake at Chinook Pass is lovely, but will be busy - then a killer downhill on Hwy 410.

Yakima and the Yakima Valley down to Pasco will be brutally hot in August.
I would suggest heading north on Hwy 821 in the Yakima Canyon.
This is a stunningly beautiful ride with lots of campsites.
From Ellensburg, you can head east on the Old Vantage Hwy - little traffic.

Here's the deal at the Columbia River. It's a tricky crossing on I-90.
No shoulders on the actual bridge part and fast, heavy traffic.
But I am suggesting this route so you can see coulees from the Missoula Floods.
Great gashes in the earth ripped by floodwaters at the end of the Ice Age.

There's a campground, motel, and store at Vantage on the west shore.
If you hang at the marina just north of the bridge, you can hitch a boat ride.
Why? Because the Old Vantage Hwy on the other side - 4 miles north - in unbelievable.
If you allow enough time, someone will run you upriver to the developed put-in.
And if you can camp in Frenchman Coulee - 3 miles up - all the better.

Then take Frenchman Road to Potholes Reservoir - store/state park.
From there head southeast on McManamon Rd thru the Drumheller Channels - more Missoula Floods.
To Othello - a majority-Hispanic ag town characteristic of Eastern Washington.

From Othello head south on Hwy 17 then east on Hwy 260 thru Connell and Kahlotus.
Then Hwy 261 to Palouse Falls - more Missoula Floods - which will blow your socks off.
Then continue on Hwy 261 to US 12 and the L&C route into Idaho.

Best - J

Warning - From Naches to Orofina will likely be quite hot in August.

Pic - Frenchman Coulee and Old Vantage Highway
« Last Edit: December 04, 2016, 04:20:12 pm by jamawani »