Author Topic: Traffic Free Trails  (Read 2424 times)

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Offline Galloper

Traffic Free Trails
« on: February 12, 2018, 02:02:19 pm »
I recently came across The Cowboy Trail, a traffic free trail in Nebraska.   It looks very attractive.   Are there any other lengthy traffic free trails in the USA?   I'm hoping to have another trip to the States, probably next year, and would appreciate any advice on this or similar routes.

Thank you.

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2018, 02:20:26 pm »
Lots of those around the US. Some vary in length and others are not fully connected.  You can use google maps, turn on the "Bicycle" routes function and zoom in.  Green is paved trail, brown is dirt trail (and sometimes singletrack).  For example, zoom into Des Moines, Iowa.  We have a reported 350 miles of paved trail. All are flat, towns every 10 miles or so, but still some good and scenic routes.

Others to check out:
Katy Trail, from Kansas City to St. Louis
C&O(?) canal trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, DC
Several in Minnesota that are fairly long

Offline John Nettles

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2018, 02:27:47 pm »
The Katy Trail (mostly fine gravel trail from near St. Louis to Clinton, Missouri), the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath (two combined routes from Pittsburgh, PA to Washington, DC. Note: The C&O is somewhat rustic), and the Erie Canal in upstate New York between Buffalo and Albany.  Other low traffic routes are the Blue Ridge Parkway (hilly) and the Natchez Trace Parkway (flat and a bit monotonous). 

You could combine multiple trails to get a heavy dose (at least for the USA) of trail across the eastern 2/3.  Take a look at the Eastern Express Route http://http://www.easternexpressroute.com/ .  When you get to Kansas, head north on the Lewis & Clark trail to Onawa, IA.  Then head west to the Cowboy Trail (note it is a gravel trail with short pavement but the low-traffic US-20 parallels the Trail vast majority of the Trail if you want to make up some speed).  One at then of the Cowboy, the traffic typically is pretty low.  Be sure to check out the various states' Traffic Count Maps.  From Valentine, NE, choose from the L&C Trail, Northern Tier, or TransAm Route by heading either north or west.

Hope this helps, John

Offline John Nelson

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2018, 04:31:24 pm »
What kind of trails are you looking for? Paved trails, gravel paths, single-track? And how lengthy is lengthy?

The canal system in New York state provides some great riding. You can ride across the whole state on the Erie Canalway (already mentioned by John above).

Offline Galloper

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2018, 09:30:55 am »
Thank you all, I'm quite happy riding gravel trails and singletrack so that, I guess gives me plenty of options.   Anything over 50 miles is good but, hopefully, I will be able to link up a series of trails as John Nettles has suggested.   The Katy trail looks promising as do the various canal paths.   I'm also quite taken with visiting Minnesota, lots to explore.

I think I'm going to be very busy on Google maps in the near future.

Thank you again.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2018, 10:22:43 am »
I forgot to mention there are a couple of really nice trails out west.  The Mickelson Trail (about 100 miles) in South Dakota.  The surrounding area is an outstanding area to ride including Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park.

Another noteworthy trail is short (15 miles) but fantastic.  It is the Route of the Hiawatha (RoH).  It goes through 10 tunnels (one 1.6 miles long and you must have at least a flashlight) and over 7 really high old-time wooden train trestles.  Downside is it costs $11.  If you are actually riding through on a coast to coast option, I would suggest riding to St Regis, MT, then take National Forest Road (NF) 282 (gravel) over the mountain pass to NF-388 (paved).  At bottom, turn right onto NF-50 (paved) along the stunningly beautiful St. Jo River to Avery, ID.  Then go uphill (gravel) to the southern end of the RoH and begin the RoH.  One done with it, continue to to I-90 where you can get on the gravel trail west to Mullan, ID.  From there, take a paved rail trail to Spokane, WA.  NOTE:  The route between St. Regis and Avery has low traffic and NO services except Forest Service campgrounds, some with hand-pump water, so be prepared.

If you end up doing this, contact me privately and I will try to get you my cue sheets and/or GPS routes.

Offline Galloper

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2018, 03:08:19 pm »
John, thanks, the Mickelson trail looks great as does the RoH and although I'm not planning a cross country route, those NFRs look very interesting.   

My thinking at present is to link up as many interesting sections as I can in one area then probably hire a car to move on to the next area and so on.   I've plenty of time to plan it but am already starting to get quite excited about it.

Cheers!

Offline DarrenBnYYC

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2018, 03:09:48 pm »
Thank you all, I'm quite happy riding gravel trails and singletrack so that, I guess gives me plenty of options.   Anything over 50 miles is good but, hopefully, I will be able to link up a series of trails as John Nettles has suggested.   The Katy trail looks promising as do the various canal paths.   I'm also quite taken with visiting Minnesota, lots to explore.

I think I'm going to be very busy on Google maps in the near future.

Thank you again.
Have you checked out: https://www.traillink.com/

They have a map to explore at: https://www.traillink.com/viewnationalmap/

Offline Iowagriz

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2018, 05:29:06 pm »
I just remembered about a trail that I have been researching for a race this coming June. 

Check out the route maps from the BC Epic 1000(km) race.  https://www.bcepic1000.com/route-map

Looks like mostly gravel/limestone railroad trails in the Okanagon Valley.  The race will be covering close to 640 miles.  Looks like gorgeous country.  Could do it 1-way like the race, or probably fly into/out of Spokane, WA and a short drive north to the middle of it.


Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2018, 11:19:45 am »
+1 on the Mickelson

And as a point of clarification, the Great Allegheny Passage connects Pittsburgh and Cumberland MD. It's a former railroad right of way. The C&O canal path takes you from Cumberland, MD to D.C. It's a different animal from the GAP.

Using a FS road, you can connect the RoH with the NorPac Trail, which is the trail that takes you to Lookout Pass and then down to Mullan (or you can do the fast descent on I-90) where the Trail of the Coeur D'Alene begins. It ends in Plummer, ID. Alternatively, from the E. Portal trailhead of the RoH you can continue on the former Milwaukee Road right-of-way, which is known as the Olympian Trail, all the way to St. Regis. All this is available on Google Maps.

BTW...I have read some so so reviews of the Cowboy Trail which mention poor maintenance and lots goat head thorns.

In the east, there is the D&L Trail system in PA, although it has some gaps. In can be combined with the D&R path system in NJ. The Pine Creek Trail in PA is another option as is the Allegheny River Trail.

Offline Galloper

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2018, 03:12:06 pm »
DarrenBnYYC, that traillink site is marvellous, a great way to see lots of potential routes, many thanks.

Iowagriz, that BC ride looks interesting, I've forwarded the link to my son, I suspect we will have a lot to discuss :)

BikeliciousBabe, thank you, the link for RoH and NorPac info is well worth knowing.   Goats Head thorns eh?   Tubeless I think :)

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Re: Traffic Free Trails
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2018, 08:05:00 am »

BikeliciousBabe, thank you, the link for RoH and NorPac info is well worth knowing.   Goats Head thorns eh?   Tubeless I think :)
No goat heads that I know of.