Author Topic: Northern Tier Map 3  (Read 4254 times)

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Offline sbwaxman

Northern Tier Map 3
« on: February 10, 2022, 01:56:40 pm »
Hello all!

I'm planning a Northern Tier ride this summer, and I'm wondering if anyone has thoughts/insights about the 2020 edition of Map 3 that routes from Cut Bank to Circle (south of Fort Peck lake) instead of going north of Forth Peck Lake to Wolf Point and dropping down to Circle, MT. Is there a major advantage to the new route over Cut Bank to Wolf Point and down to Circle? I ask because all the blogs I am reading for pre-2020 rides indicate decent density of amenities on that route, while the map makes the southern route look pretty sparse amenity-wise.

Thank you!

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2022, 02:20:30 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!  Hope you join us often. 

If I recall correctly and take that with a HEAVY grain of salt, ACA rerouted the NT due to increased traffic along US-2 or at least comments about too heavy of traffic.  I DROVE the route between Cut Bank and Williston back in 2019 and I did not think it was that bad at all and I always look at roads from a "would this make a nice road for touring" perspective.  Honestly, if ACA does not chime in here on this post, I would just call them and ask.

Since the new route is fairly similar to the Great Parks Route, if you have the time, you might consider doing a loop through Glacier National Park, then head south toward Seeley Lake then east following the Lewis & Clark and rejoin the NT in Great Falls. This would provide more services and be a greener/lush route.  Of course, you would be one of the first to do the new route officially.

Of course, you could still follow US-2 to Glasgow and then drop down to the NT there. 

Whatever you choose, I wish you a wonderful trip!

Tailwinds, John

Offline sbwaxman

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2022, 02:39:04 pm »
Thanks so much for the welcome, the insights, and the recommendations, John! Traffic makes good sense as a reason. And I may well call to ask--that's a good thought.

I rode from Williston, ND to Chicago back in 2012 (why NOT start your bike trip in Frack City‽), and while I won't miss the awful truck traffic from Williston down to Dickinson, I will definitely miss the beautiful ride through the Little Missouri Grasslands. That was a nice road for touring.

Take care,

Offline jamawani

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2022, 03:09:48 pm »
Sarah -

I live in Wyoming and taught in eastern Montana - ridden both.
US 2 has moderate traffic, a chunk of trucks, and inconsistent shoulders.
MT 200 has very, very little traffic - but also mostly no shoulders.
Services are limited on US 2 - very, very sparse on MT 200.

When ACA detoured the NT south in North Dakota,
it brought into question keeping th route on US 2 in Montana.
In terms of quality of riding, MT 200 is far superior with a little supply planning.
And the ACA maps give you the info on services that you need.

I would, however, head south on US 89 from Browning - not out to Cut Bank.
US 89 has gorgeous views of the Front Range, fairly light traffic, and O.K. shoulders.
There are some steep rollers, but if you pace yourself, it's so much nicer of a ride.
Tiny cafe/store in Dupuyer. Camping in town park in Choteau - most services.
(The ACA route runs you on a service road right next to I-15 most of the way - meh.)

Pic - US 89 Heading into Dupuyer

Offline sbwaxman

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2022, 03:21:46 pm »
Thank you, jamawani--this is enormously helpful. And thanks for the tip on US 89!

Offline CMajernik

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2022, 02:18:39 pm »
Here is what we told folks as to why we rerouted the original route on U.S. 2:
"Due to safety, a major reroute occurred in late spring 2020 on the Northern Tier Section 3 in Montana. We began receiving more reports about increasing amounts of high-speed traffic, and little to no shoulders on U.S. 2, the “Hi-Line.” The new route aligns with the Lewis & Clark Trail to the south of U.S. 2, and goes from Cut Bank to Circle for 406 miles."

For 2022 there is a reason why you might want to stay on U.S. 2. There is major road construction on SR 200. Crews will return early spring 2022 to finish work on the Little Dry Creek - East segment, and start the second construction phase, Junction 462 East & West. Junction 462 East & West includes reconstructing approximately 9.5 miles of SR 200, from 17 miles east of Jordan to just east of the Little Dry Creek Bridge (on map 45). As far as we know, the contractor hasn't made any accommodations for bicyclists, so we recommend asking a pickup truck driver if you can get a ride by putting your bike in the pickup bed.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline sbwaxman

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2022, 03:31:56 pm »
Carla, this is great to know--thank you. What a treat to know about major construction ahead of time!

Offline KF8MO

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2022, 05:43:12 pm »
My wife and I plan to ride this section of the Northern Tier on our tandem in August this year. Is it possible to get the old maps (esp the Bicycle Navigator version) in case the SR 200 section is not good this summer?

Offline sbwaxman

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2022, 10:12:56 pm »
Hello! Just wanted to let folks know that I did take 2, and it was totally acceptable. Reasonable traffic mostly after Browning and variable shoulder leaning toward good.

Offline Buddy_Hall

Re: Northern Tier Map 3
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2022, 03:08:47 pm »
I rode the Northern Tier in 2021 going E to W, and I followed the "new" (southern) route.  I was still debating which route to take when I reached Circle, MT, but I met a cyclist there who had ridden the northern route a few years earlier and he had just taken the southern route.  Each time he was on a tandem with one of his daughters on the back.  He said that he would take the southern route "7 days a week."  He indicated that he thought it was a safer and "better" route for him to take with his daughters - his concern was safety.   So I took the currently published ACA route.  I encountered the large construction project mentioned in an earlier post, and was able to bike through it.  My journal has videos each day of the travel, so you may want to use it to see what the actual travel is like on that route (including the construction zone).  I'm sure you will be fine either way.  It's the High Plains, and it's challenging to cycle across however you go. Best of luck,

Buddy Hall