Author Topic: Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am  (Read 3780 times)

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Offline RossKB

Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am
« on: January 09, 2023, 09:21:24 am »
I have been lurking on these forums for some time and really appreciate the spirit of camaraderie and the wisdom people are willing to share.

I am a 63 year old man planning to solo across the country east to west starting at the end of April.  A couple of my key desires/constraints are that I would like to stay in roofed lodging as much as possible and I would like to do rail trails to the extent they are reasonable options.  I figure that staying in roofed lodging makes me happier, gains me a couple of hours every day and gives me wife peace of mind that I am out of harm’s way for some hours of the day.  I have done a lot of solo touring in the East, but I understand Eastern solitude is nothing like Western solitude.  I plan on doing the Eastern Express, then doing the Flint Hills Nature Trail to Council Grove and then joining the TransAm in Great Bend, taking it basically up to Missoula.  I had a couple of questions:
--Given the traffic and sparse lodging facilities in the Tetons/Yellowstone, does it make sense to do the ACA bypass west, staying in Ashton?  I am imaging that lodging in Yellowstone is sold out well in advance and won’t work well with a schedule that may have some wiggle in it. (I have been to Yellowstone a number of times before.)
--I had been intrigued by the possibility of going west from St. Regis, Montana largely on rail trails, but discussions in previous forums (thanks jamawani) convinced me that the Cascades to Palouse trail was a bridge out too far—especially for someone going solo.   But I would still like to do the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes, so I was thinking about taking it to Plummer and then taking 95 down to Lewiston/Clarkston and then doing the Lewis and Clark to Oceanside.  The Idaho bike maps seem to show that 95 has good shoulders.  Does that make sense? 
--In the east I feel comfortable knowing I’ll be able to find roofed lodging, but out west, having a tent/sleeping bag backup seems essential.  I am thinking of sending my camping gear out to myself in Great Bend, Kansas or thereabouts. 

Thanks for any advice people can share!
Ross


Offline John Nettles

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Re: Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2023, 10:08:10 am »
Welcome to the ACA Forums!--I had been intrigued by the possibility of going west from St. Regis, Montana largely on rail trails, but discussions in previous forums (thanks jamawani) convinced me that the Cascades to Palouse trail was a bridge out too far—especially for someone going solo.   But I would still like to do the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes, so I was thinking about taking it to Plummer and then taking 95 down to Lewiston/Clarkston and then doing the Lewis and Clark to Oceanside.  The Idaho bike maps seem to show that 95 has good shoulders.  Does that make sense?

My wife, son, and I rode from Spokane to Missoula and back via Lewiston and it was a wonderful trip.  Yes, we rode on the interstate which was legal and surprisingly not that much traffic.  I would also say that riding from Spokane to Lewiston is something you might consider.  I will post the routes if you are strongly thinking of doing it (it will take about an hour to create the routes).  NOTE:  Since you are going the reverse direction we did, you will have to go about 14 miles up a 5% decent unpaved road.
Our route also went down the unpaved Route of the Hiawatha RT which was very nice.  You would have it going uphill unless you took the optional paid shuttle twice; once to get to the top and once to continue on your journey.  You also MUST have a flashlight or headlight due to the mile long tunnel.  I guess you could just do a spur loop from Avery and then continue on west from Avery along the gorgeous St. Joe River (which I personally think is much better than the Lochsa River) but you would miss nice portion of the Trail of the Coeur D’Alenes (Mullan to Heyburn SP).  The St. Joe River road has way less traffic and you see the river much more than US-12/Lochsa River. 

I have done a TON of traveling and the Palouse region is a hidden gem.  I would suggest back roads when possible. 

So, yes, I think your route from Missoula makes a lot of sense.
Tailwinds, John 
« Last Edit: January 09, 2023, 10:35:43 am by John Nettles »

Offline jamawani

Re: Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2023, 10:25:17 am »
Welcome Ross the Lurker!

About the western parks -
There ain't no lodging for a 100 mile radius in mid-summer.
You are more likely to hit them in late June - still pretty over-booked.
But, if you do send camping gear out - then you have hiker/biker camping options.
In fact, then it becomes a cake walk getting overnight accommodations in the parks.
And in the most beautiful locations, too.

There is a fantabulous hiker/biker campground right on Jenny Lake in Grand Teton.
There are hiker/biker sites at all but one of the Yellowstone campgrounds. (Slough Creek)
BTW - I would strongly suggest a loop in Yellowstone that gives you far more of the park -
West Thumb > Bridge Bay > Canyon > Norris > Madison.
Canyon has hiker/biker sites both on the loop and deep in the woods.
Of course, with bears, some people prefer to stay on the loop, but the quiet of the woods is sweet.
Canyon also has showers, laundry, cafe, store, visitors center talks, and superb hiking.

One thing about sending camping gear ahead - you'll be a pro by Great Bend - with legs of steel.
Also, all the west Kansas towns have great hiker/biker camping often near the pool park.
Camping also makes sense once you hit the Rockies in Colorado - -
Although in can be pretty chilly in early June - just sayin'.

I have done both the I-90 route and the Hwy 200 route in western Montana numerous times.
Even though the rail trail system paralleling I-90 has been improved -
you still have to get on the Interstate a number of times or are right next to it.
I think the last of the bridges with zero shoulders and heavy traffic have been widened.
There are, however, some short stretches of Old Highway 10 that are lovely.

There are some stretches of Hwy 200 with no shoulder, but there is also much less traffic.
(You will have either a handlebar mirror or a helmet mirror - right??)
Camping at the fairgrounds in Plains is nice - big shade trees and showerhouse.
Then you take the bike/ped bridge acros the Clark Fork and up to Thompson Pass.
Thru Murray and on to Enaville and the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes.
Great lakeside camping at Harrison.

If you do choose to follow I-90, I would suggest the Route of the Hiawatha Trail.
Incredible tunnels, long & high trestles, moderate grade, crushed limestone surface.
Then catch the last few miles of the Trail of the CdA from Haworth SP to Plummer.

May I suggest rideing thru the Palouse rather than south on US 95?
US 95 is really busy, usually with shoulders, but nothing to write home to Mom about.
The roads thru the Palouse are almost totally empty and like a magic carpet.
Plus, you could go via Palouse Falls when there is still quite a lot of water coming over the edge.
Pick Up the L&C at Walla Walla.



Offline RossKB

Re: Western Variants for an East to West Trans Am
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2023, 09:25:35 pm »
John and jamawani, Thanks for turning me on to the Palouse!  What a beautiful picture!  It makes a lot of sense.  One of the things I love about this tour is the chance to go someplace I never would have gone before.  Thanks for the offer of the route, John.  Let me do some more research before I take you up on that.   Thanks!  Ross