Author Topic: Route advice - Oregon to Maine  (Read 1147 times)

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Offline Howard Levitt

Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« on: October 18, 2017, 10:18:49 pm »
This summer, from June 3-August 28, my wife and I did a cross-country ride from Newport, Oregon to Bar Harbor, Maine. The route we developed was south of the Northern Tier through Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming to Minneapolis, then continued across Wisconsin and Michigan into Ontario and Quebec before concluding at the Atlantic at Bar Harbor.  The route proved to be a very good choice and contributed to the overall marvelousness of the trip.

We did a blog as a journal for the trip.  It includes lots of personal impressions of our days on the route, but it also provides lots of images on what the route looks like.   It can be found at:  coast-to-coast2017.com 

We are also available to answer any questions anyone has about this route, or our trip.


Offline bbarrettx

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 10:44:23 am »
Excellent blog. My daughter and I were a few weeks ahead of you following almost the exact route from Newport to Shoshoni. Smart of you to avoid Highway 20 out of Newport as that had a lot more traffic than expected. We were self supported which made for some challenging days early on. Day 2, from Lebanon, OR to the Suttle Lake Lodge about 5 miles east of Santiam Pass was a pretty crazy day. We had 50 degree sleeping bags and it was in the low 30's that night so we had to get a roof over our head. It seemed like we climbed about 50 miles that day. I recognize the watering hole in Unity where we also spent the night. We had been told about the killer tailwinds from Unity to Vale but sadly we had headwinds that day with no vegetation to block the winds. We ride along the Payette River was stunning and the Garden Valley to Stanley ride over the Sawtooths was gorgeous. We had 6 feet of snow at Banner Summit. We didn't ride through Ketchum but instead from Stanley to Mackay. This was another one of those days with 50 plus miles between services. Having sag support on days like those would have made life a lot easier! Our intent was to ride through Yellowstone and east to Cody but we got word of the big snowstorm approaching so we decided to try to get the Dubois on the east side of the Continental Divide to avoid the storm. Unfortunately we had 40 mph headwinds climbing up Togwotee. We stopped at a lodge about 10 miles before the top of the pass for lunch. By the time we finished lunch it was snowing. It snowed for the next 36 hours. It was nice to have a roof over our heads but that's where I got my bout of food poisoning. The stories go on but we decided to continue on the more southerly route so we went Shoshoni to Casper and then pushed out through northern Nebraska and through southeast SD continuing through the northern tier of Iowa. We had planned to ride up through Minneapolis but we had at least 5 consecutive days of 25+ mph winds out of the NW and every time we made an effort to ride north it was like riding into a wall. We continued due east as we had no other options, crossed the Mississippi and landed in Madison, WI in late June. Unfortunately my daughter was diagnosed with dehydration induced Rhabdo in Madison and we had to cut the trip short but we'll be back out in Madison in late May 2018 to finish the trip. We're headed to NJ and will either cross through the UP and southern Ontario into Niagara and down through the Finger Lakes or we'll cross through Indiana, Ohio , and PA. It'll all depends on the winds once we arrive in Madison! Thanks for sharing your blog. As a guy in his early 50's that type of tour looks very tempting! Cheers.

Offline bbarrettx

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2017, 12:45:46 pm »
I'll add a few more notes on this route on the sections that we followed for self supported folks. Without a sag wagon in tow I'd opt for a different route from the coast to Sisters on the other side of the Cascades. Even though we avoided highway 20 out of Newport for about the first 15 miles we did eventually end up climbing on 20 for several miles and it's like riding on an interstate highway. It looks like Howard found some much better back road options to the north but riding through Corvallis sets you up awkwardly for the 60 or so miles between services (most of it climbing) over Tombstone and Santiam passes. I rode the TransAm 30 years ago and, while longer, it's just a better route through these mountains. Starting in Astoria will get you a few days of riding on the coast with a much easier ride over the coastal range or if you're pressed for time then starting in Florence (south of Newport) would be better (it's an option on the TA maps). If the road is passable then Mackenzie Pass is the far superior route but if the pass is closed and you have to take Santiam Pass at least you have services along the way as you won't be climbing Tombstone. Santiam Pass is effectively the merger of three highways and a major trucking route. In late May the shoulder was still covered in gravel which they use for traction during the winter months. This meant that we were often forced to ride out in the lane as trucks flew by at 60 mph. To be avoided if possible, even if you might have to slog through a few hundred yards of snow at the top of Mackenzie.

Other observations:

In Idaho, HWY 55 between Horseshoe Bend and Banks can get busy with weekend traffic. Shoulders are tiny and traffic is fast through a windy canyon. Best to not find yourselves out there headed north on a Friday afternoon.

We rode from Garden Valley, ID to Stanley in a day and that turned out to be a big grind for loaded cyclists, especially with bad winds for the final 20 miles. There's one lodge about 5 miles out of Lowman but nothing else. Best to start in Lowman and not Garden Valley to chop about 30 miles of climbing off of your day.

We had originally planned on riding through Ketchum/Sun Valley like Howard did. We didn't because of time constraints and rode from Stanley to Mackay in a day with unfavorable winds. They took the correct route. Sun Valley and Craters of the Moon is a better option for self supported cycling.

Again, for self supported cyclists, the stretch from Arco to ID Falls is a hydration challenge. There's a rest area with water about 10 miles out of Arco but from there you're on your own. There are some never ending climbs and the 20 mph crosswind wasn't much fun. Not a tree ever in sight so don't expect shade. We were fortunate to have a car pull over and offer us water about 20 miles before ID Falls.

From Swan Valley, ID you have the option of riding over two passes to get to Jackson or an easier route that's about 20 miles longer. We were told that Teton Pass was very steep so we thought we'd save our knees. We didn't anticipate 20 mph headwinds from Alpine to Jackson though. That was our intro to the winds of Wyoming. Watch out for that if taking the longer route though we ran into a cyclist who said that the prevailing wind through that canyon is usually a tailwind. If there's any way to check the current/forecasted wind out of Alpine from Garden Valley that would be helpful. If it's out of the south then avoiding Teton Pass on loaded bikes might be a good call.

This route in the section that we followed it from the OR coast to central WY offers a bit of a shortcut for those riding the TransAm route but you do spend a lot of time on the TA route. I recommend having at least maps 1 and 2 from the TA. They're full of invaluable info like the free hostel at the church in Dayville, OR or camping next to the firehouse in Crowheart, WY (map 3 maybe?).

Offline Howard Levitt

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 01:26:56 pm »
Great commentary and suggestions re the route I described, bbarrettx! 

Seems like you and your daughter experienced unusual winds for much of your route - generally, a cyclist should be able to count on west winds across much of the west.  But of course, it's always luck of the draw.

Re the stormy, windy weather that forced you south from mid-Wyoming, I think my wife and I benefitted from our later (6/3) start. The route northeast from Shoshoni to Thermopolis and Ten Sleep was great.  Ten Sleep has a wonderful brewery loceted just 3 miles west of town.  The climbs over the Bighorn Mtns east of Ten Sleep were not difficult.

Re Santiam Pass vs other options, I would agree that McKenzie Pass would be preferred if it's open.  Turns out it was open when we passed by to the north, but we didn't know that. 

To get to Corvallis from Newport, I used a Strava route based on rider popularity.  Yes, very mountainous, but a glorious route through the coastal range and only 15 miles on Hwy 20, which is not a great road in this segment.

Re your Idaho suggestions - an emphatic "yes" to all of them.  Even without baggage, Garden Valley to Stanley would be a very hard day.  There are excellent USFS camping options along the Payette River just west of Lowman, including hot springs.  We broke it up this way ... Vale, OR, to Roytone Hot Springs (14 m east of Emmett), 62 miles; Roystone to Lowman, 70 miles; Lowman to Stanley, 58.5 miles.

Re Teton Pass, from Victor, ID to Jackson, it is extremely steep, but fairly short.  It was also one of the highlights of our entire 3900 trip across the country.  East of Teton Pass (Hwy 22), there is a bike-hike only paved road for the descent into Wilson.  Magnificent.



Offline Howard Levitt

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2017, 01:53:30 pm »
For those interested in this thread, here's the detailed itinerary that my wife and I followed on our cross-country ride.  In hindsight, there's not much I would have changed.  Bear in mind that this ride was supported by my wife moving our little teardrop trailer each day, but I think it could nevertheless be a good route for self-supported riders, too.

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2017, 04:18:55 pm »
Where is Meadow View Campground in Lowman, ID? I have been planning a loop from Boise and don't see it on Google Maps.

Also, did you stay at Lava Flow Campground at Craters of the Moon? If so, how was it?

Offline JHamelman

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2017, 05:12:32 pm »
Where is Meadow View Campground in Lowman, ID? I have been planning a loop from Boise and don't see it on Google Maps.

I wonder if he meant Mountain View CG (USFS) just east of town.

Jennifer
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Offline Howard Levitt

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2017, 06:16:24 pm »
Yes, Mountain View not Meadow view.  Very good campground, but I suggested Kirkham, three miles east, which has hot springs right along the riverside.

Offline Howard Levitt

Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2017, 07:58:03 pm »
And yes, we camped at Lava Flow Campground in Craters.  It's really your only camping option, and is a decent campground.  It fills up on weekends and on most days in the summer because I believe it's the only camping in the NP site.  It has a lovely, rolling 10-mile loop road that is well worth doing. 

indyfabz

  • Guest
Re: Route advice - Oregon to Maine
« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2017, 01:40:11 pm »
Where is Meadow View Campground in Lowman, ID? I have been planning a loop from Boise and don't see it on Google Maps.

I wonder if he meant Mountain View CG (USFS) just east of town.

Jennifer
That must be it. Thanks. Missed that one as I was focusing in on the hot springs east of there.

BTW...Nice trip report.