Author Topic: Florence Oregon TransAm route to Missoula then Northern Tier to Great Lakes.....  (Read 3326 times)

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Offline Manotti

HI:  we greatly enjoy reading all the really helpful suggestions/comments, etc that you all offer.  Thank you.  We are leaving around early May (you think a good time?) from Florence Oregon on the TransAm route to Missoula then the Northern Tier Route to the North Lakes to the Lake Erie Connector to Central PA then finish at the Jersey Shore (spending our last night in Philadelphia).  We have family and friends in PA, Philly, NJ.  Any thoughts/ideas/suggestions to share about this route(s)?  We've been bike touring more the past few years but this will be by far our longest.  Look forward to hearing from you.  Thank you.  John and Lisa  (ACA Lifetime Members)
p.s. Planning to camp, hotel, warm showers, etc along the way.

Offline John Nettles

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John & Lisa,  Welcome to the ACA Forums!

It sounds like a wonderful trip you have planned.  A couple of thoughts. First, you don't say how many miles a day you plan to average overall, if you have a deadline , i.e. must end by August 1st, and/or what towns your family and friends live in.  That can change what I am about to say as my answers are based on the "typical" 55-60 miles per day overall (including rest days).

Early May is a bit early as several passes may still closed due to snow.  Additionally, it will still be somewhat cool.  For instance, in late May, Missoula's average high is only 70* with a 5* range common.  The average low is 45*.  There is a somewhat high chance that Going to the Sun highway in Glacier National Park will still be closed and late May/early June is the season's highest chance of rain at 35%.  It sucks to ride it in the rain as not only do you miss a lot of scenery due to clouds but the descent is miserable due to the wind chill. I speak from experience.  The rest of the trip the temps would be nice.  Check out for a huge database of climate data.  If you can handle the cool weather and possible detours due to closed passes, this time is fine. If you can start later, I would suggest that. 

As far as the route goes, I can't tell if you mean you will take the Lake Erie Connector all the way to Buffalo and wing it down to Philly.  or down to Sandusky and eventually connect to the Chicago to NYC route into PA.  My guess is the former.  If the latter, I would suggest a different overall route if time permits.  It would be the TA to West Yellowstone, then the Parks, Peaks, and Prairie Route to Reliance, ND, where you break off and take a route I can get you to Milwaukee.  About 90% of the route in Wisconsin is on rail trails.  From Milwaukee, cross Lake Michigan and then head south on the North Lakes to the alternate (south) Chicago to NYC Route to Philly.  The reason is it has much more scenery and varied terrain.  You would definitely want to start at least mid-May as Yellowstone can be quite cold in June.  I rode in a wet snow on July 4 back in 80s and it was not super fun and I started in Astoria in early June. 

But if your time, dates, miles, etc. prevent that, I totally understand.  I don't think your route is bad at all, just that my proposed route is much more scenic. 

Wishing you a wonderful tour!  Tailwinds, John

Offline jamawani

John & Lisa -

Early May is early for a west-to-east trip starting in the Northwest.
Not sure where y'all are from ...
If you are from Montana, then I guess you know what to expect.
But if you are from Georgia or even New Jersey - maybe not.

Not only can you have snow and cold weather into early June.
but the winter's snow has not had much time to melt yet.
For example, Going to the Sun Road in Glacier N.P. is a spectacular ride,
but the road rarely opens before the first week in June and sometimes not until early July.

The Oregon coast and into the Willamette Valley usualy still have moderate rain in May.
And the NWS is predicting a wet late spring in the Northwest this year.
Of course, the NWS could be wrong or you could hit a lucky window.
Back in 1990, I had heavy snow in the Cascade foothills in early June.

Consider two options:
1) If your time frame is fixed, then perhaps go east-to-west.
2) If you time frame is flexible, stay with west-to-east, but a month later.


On the other coast -
Despite what people might say, I had some great riding in New Jersey.
It's about 60 miles from Philly to A.C. on the freeway, maybe a bit more on bakc roads.
Certainly doable - but why rush your last day?
Wharton State Forest has some lovely camping in the pines with historic Batsto Village nearby.
Hard to believe you are in New Jersey it is so empty and quiet.

Be glad to answer any questions you may have.

Happy trails! - Jama

Offline Nyimbo

I rode from W/E departing from Florence the last weekend in May and the timing was about perfect. McKenzie pass was recently opened for cyclists and hikers but still closed to cars because of snow. Snow was still deep on the pass but I didn’t get snowed on during the ride.  The weather was good with only some spots of cold rain on some passes in Eastern OR and ID.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2022, 10:12:03 pm by Nyimbo »

Offline John Nelson

You’re going to get wet. If you can delay a few weeks, your chances are better.

Offline Manotti

HI:  many many thanks for the good suggestions and ideas.  Very much appreciated.  I should have given you more background (note to self....).   We live in Eugene, oregon (past 28 years).  We grew-up in central PA and upstate NY, hence the family and friends in PA.  We spend most of our time backcountry skiing in the Cascades, Utah, Wyoming and BC, so we are used to the cold. But, riding in the cold wet is totally different, I realize and I get it. 
We are intrigued with the West Jellystone TA route to Milwaukie that John Nelson mentions.  John, should I reach out privately to you or how best to get more intel from you? 
Again, many thanks to all for some great advice.   J and L

Offline Manotti

ooops, I said John Nelson but I think it was John Nettles who responded with the alternative West Yellowstone route, eh? 

« Last Edit: March 14, 2022, 03:19:00 pm by Manotti »

Offline John Nettles

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You probably meant me, John Nettles  ;) .  Yes, PM via the ACA message board which can be accessed via "Personal Message" link which is below my name to the upper left.

Also, you should edit your post to remove your email as you will get a lot of spam otherwise. 

John Nettles

Offline Manotti

OK.  Thank you, John Nettles.  Much appreciated.  JM

Offline EmilyG

I agree that early May, with a plan to go on Northern Tier through MT, is chancy.  We left Bend, OR on May 15, and had to go through southern MT, which had its own issues (I just wrote about that on another post before I saw this one).  We were very fortunate, hit a perfect weather window for Lolo Pass (It snowed the week before and the week after, clear roads and  skies for us though).  If time is no worry, I would do the Peaks/Parks/Prairie route instead of Lewis & Clark.   It didn't exist when we went through, but so glad it does now!

Offline BikeliciousBabe

Having hopped on the TA heading east from Missoula several times starting in mid-June I agree that an early May start in OR would be dicey.  The pandemic cancelled a similar start in 2020, which worked our for the best because I would have gotten caught in rather large snow storm around Day 2 or 3.

In any event...Philly in the house!  (Fairmount section.) Where down the shore are you planning to finish?  Every year I do a couple of weekend trips to Belleplain State Forest in Woodbine, NJ, after taking PATCO to Woodcrest so as to bypass the Camden area.  PATCO allows bikes 24/7/365.  Belleplain might make a good overnight stop, leaving a short next day to get to the ocean.  It's an easy ride from there to either Sea Isle City or Ocean City.  You can also get to Avalon/Stone Harbor pretty easily.

Send me a PM is you might want to see a map of what I do.  I am scheduled to head to Belleplain on Holy Thursday then to Cape May on Good Friday for a ferry ride to Lewes, DE.

Cannot see the details of the ACA route through Lancaster County and east, but I may have an alternative that spends less time on PA 23 and goes through French Creek State Par, where there is a large campground.

Offline Manotti

This is terrific. I just sent you a PM.  Thank you.  JM