Author Topic: Great Lakes/New England Route  (Read 547 times)

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Offline jon_baler

Great Lakes/New England Route
« on: December 02, 2018, 02:49:14 pm »
My wife and I are looking to do a 2 week trip (700-800 miles) in sometime in July next summer.   We've done numerous trips in New England, and really liked Vermont and Adirondacks.  We're around 40 years old, and are both in good bicycling shape.
We live near Baltimore, and have enjoyed Amtrak bike service to/from Vermont on past trips.  I can also get good deals on one way car rentals through my work, so typically our trips don't have to be loops starting and ending in the same spot.  I'm comfortable making our own routes for part of the trip, but prefer the simplicity of following AC routes/maps.
We'd be camping most nights, but not opposed to getting a hotel room for a few nights when near larger cities with a good, walk-able, downtown area.  We enjoy eating out with good meals 1-2 times per day, and cook at camp the rest of the time.  Great craft beer stops are always appreciated.

For next summer, I am looking at two general options - See attached map. 

Option A (Red Stars) - Start in Pittsburgh and take Underground Railroad route to Erie, and then join Northern Tier route all the way to Vermont.  Passing through Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Adirondacks, and Vermont.

Option B (Blue Diamonds) - Start in Erie and follow northern tier along Lake Erie to Buffalo, then switch west to stay along on the Lake Erie Connector.  Then head north to the Underground Railroad along Lake Huron, and loop back south to Niagara Falls and Buffalo.

Thoughts on either?  Does one allow cooler/dryer weather in July?  Better scenery or road conditions?

Is there a different combination of routes recommended?  Reverse Direction?

thanks in advance

Offline Tandem Tom

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2018, 08:48:13 pm »
Jon,
We live in NE Ohio and have ridden quite a bit of the 2 routes you are considering. We rode 1 year from Albany up to the Erie Canal Trail all the way home. The Erie Canal became a bit tedious so we rode the parallel roads to go through the town's. We have ridden around Lake Erie 2x's and that is enjoyable. One thing  about Ontario is we found the drivers more aggressive than any other province. This was experience  when we rode across Canada in 2017.
I will throw out a suggestion of a trip we did a few summers ago. Ride from Montreal to Halifax via the Gaspe. Absolutely beautiful!

Online BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2018, 01:11:47 pm »
FYI...The Adirondacks will be crowded in July, especially during weekends. It's one of their two months of summer.  :) When we rode the Northern Tier we had two chilly nights (one with frost) in early August.

Offline EmilyG

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #3 on: April 18, 2019, 01:42:03 am »
We did what you marked with red stars last summer, mid July to first week of August.  Favorite part was from Port Ontario, NY, to VT, which was an absolutely gorgeous, especially the Adirondacks. We did some alternates to the route which would be happy to share with you. 
Riding along the Erie Canal be prepared for HOT and dusty.  Many of the trees along the canal were cut down between Lockport and Albion, which made it even hotter. The section from Lewiston to Rochester was our least favorite, just due to roads and the canal.  Rochester to Buffalo was great, but I hope to never have to navigate through Buffalo again! 
Highly recommend going off route in NY to go through Oswego on way to Port Ontario, because there is a terrific food co-op there, and the roads were great wonderful rollers.  Stop at the Fly by Night cookie company in Fair Haven. And outside of Port Ontario, the Bears Sleepy Hollow Campground offers free camping to all bicyclists!.
We did the Brandon's Gap instead of Middlebury gap in VT.
And once we got to Thetford, VT, we went completely off route to navigate to Portsmouth, NH.
Happy to share more information if you are interested.  Enjoy your trip!
-Emily

Online BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #4 on: April 18, 2019, 09:25:47 am »
but I hope to never have to navigate through Buffalo again!

We did the Brandon's Gap instead of Middlebury gap in VT.

;D So it wasn't just me. I did ACA's unsupported group trip of the Northern Tier back in the day. I and another guy had the worst time trying to find the Peace Bridge from Buffalo to Ontario. At one point we stopped and asked a fireman and even he couldn't tell us how to get there from where we were. By far the most frustrating navigational part of the entire trip.

And we also did Brandon Gap W to E due to the location of the campground the night before. Just before the summit was the only time on the entire trip where I thought I might have to stop and walk, but I did a uey, got my moment back, did another uey and made it to the top.

Offline EmilyG

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #5 on: April 18, 2019, 10:20:57 am »
Yes, looking back, I still feel exhausted and overwhelmed thinking of navigating Buffalo.  The biggest issue for me was we'd be on the right side of the road, often with little to no bike lane, with 4-lanes of traffic, and suddenly two lanes would peel off to the right, and we would be expected to get over to the left, crossing those two lanes, with no support for pedestrians or bicycles and very heavy traffic. The route put us on roads which were not meant for bicycle traffic, and all our preparation and preview of the route was essentially meaningless once we were on the road.   I believe there is a much safer route through the city.     Of our entire tour across the country, there were 3 points where we just tried to survive. Buffalo; the leg of the Lewis & Clark route from Lincoln, MT to Augusta, MT; and the transition from the end of the Wadhams to Avoca trail to the town of St. Clar in eastern Michigan, along Range road (could not understand why the route didn't cut quickly over to the river, where a clearly marked bicycle route existed.  Once we did that we were much safer).
But for a trip of over 4,000 miles, having three really ugly spots isn't too bad, considering. Very grateful for so much of the route.

Did you stay at the Bradbury State Park in VT? That's why we ended up doing Brandon Gap, because we picked that park to camp at.

Online BikeliciousBabe

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2019, 03:50:46 pm »
Did you stay at the Bradbury State Park in VT? That's why we ended up doing Brandon Gap, because we picked that park to camp at.
No. We stayed at some private campground. Probably one of the two on U.S. 7. It was so long ago I cannot remember exactly where.

We then went through Stockbridge to Barnard and stayed at Silver Lake State Park.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2019, 03:54:51 pm by BikeliciousBabe »

Offline David W Pratt

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Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2019, 03:45:09 pm »
Sounds great.  My plan is Erie Canal to Buffalo, then Rte 5 to Erie, PA, then UGRR Spur to PGH.  I called a bike shop in Buffalo and they said 5 is very nice, they sponsor a century on it every year.
If you check the NYS Dept of Transportation, you can find a phone number and, with persistence, and calling back, eventually talk to a human being who may be able to send you a map of one or more NY bike routes.  Check their website first, each map is on a separate map, and the maps date from the Pataki administration; a dwindling supply.
Good luck

Offline jcostanz

Re: Great Lakes/New England Route
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 11:33:44 am »
The worst section of Rt 5 is around the old Bethlehem steel plant.  Currently it has no shoulders, 2 lanes towards PA and 3 lanes towards buffalo.  There is a narrow sidewalk, with a wall on one side and a guard rail on the other, on the towards Buffalo direction.  I remember that ACA NT maps did route around this area.  This road has heavy Industrial traffic during normal working hours.  At the South end near the Ford Plant, after the park there has been a change to the trail as a road has been moved for the Fedex Distribution plant.  The trail now puts you on a side road that parallels rt 5 and reconnects after Rt5 and RT 20 separate.

There is work being done on a new multi use trail in this section, I do not know when it will open and if it will cross the railroad tracks that limit any widening of the road.
It is the Bethlehem section of the shoreline trail.
See map near bottom of page.
https://www.buffalorising.com/2018/11/completion-of-the-shoreline-trail-extension-in-lackawanna/