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  1. #1
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Tour-worthy North American railtrails and paths?

    I was wondering what are the longest carriage road/railtrail/bike path routes in North America? I want to design a trip for my wife, my dog, and I for the summer. I want to avoid car-travelled roads to minimize difficulties of taking my dog. While a few road crossings and routes are OK, I know our needs and do not want to put the dog in a trailer most of the day because of cars.

    The idea is that my wife and I would ride with pooch on dirt and rock trails for the tour, but that these trails would not require mountain bikes. Nothing that would require tires wider than 40 mm.

    I know these kinds of route exist, but I simply don't know where they are.

    thanks

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    I can only provide extremely limited information. If you come across the American Tobacco Trail in your search for these paths, keep in mind it is NOT finished. A 5.5 mile section connecting Apex to Cary is complete, but it does not run all the way to Durham as shown on some maps. A section about 2 miles long has not been completed. I do not know the length of the section that is complete connecting Cary to Durham. MTB's would have little trouble navigating the missing section but you stated you did not want to deal with sections that required MTBs.
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    Might want to check the John Wayne trail/ Iron Horse trail in WA. I don't know but maybe some research might show that would work for you?

  4. #4
    Older I get, Better I was velonomad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelCommuter
    I was wondering what are the longest carriage road/railtrail/bike path routes in North America? I want to design a trip for my wife, my dog, and I for the summer. I want to avoid car-travelled roads to minimize difficulties of taking my dog. While a few road crossings and routes are OK, I know our needs and do not want to put the dog in a trailer most of the day because of cars.

    The idea is that my wife and I would ride with pooch on dirt and rock trails for the tour, but that these trails would not require mountain bikes. Nothing that would require tires wider than 40 mm.

    I know these kinds of route exist, but I simply don't know where they are.

    thanks
    You live at one end of my favorite railtrails and we met on the Canalway Trail last summer.

    I think the Katy is currently the longest at 225 miles http://www.bikekatytrail.com/

    I really like the New River rail trail in Va I rode it this last fall. 57 miles one way
    http://www.dcr.state.va.us/parks/newriver.htm.

    Here is the trails that is part of my tour this coming September http://www.atatrail.org
    http://bikewashington.org/canal/

    In Canada has several very long trails but I am not sure what the hassle would be taking your dog across the border. http://www.canadatrails.ca/biking/bike_qc.html

    BTW NY just finished another section of the canalway trail between St Johnsville and Valley Falls making a continous 42 mile section between Amsterdam and Little Falls

    Rick
    Last edited by velonomad; 01-29-06 at 08:47 PM.

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    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Trans Canada Trail has parts that are off-road, but that accounts for a very small portion. Much is on less travelled roads. When you cross the rockies you will be stuck on the side of the road with lots of trucks flying by.

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    The Cowboy trail in Nebraska is a long one. Check out the website: http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/parks/gu...boy/cowboy.asp. The trail parallels US 20 across Nebraska. I rode it a couple years ago, and preferred riding the highway over the trail. US 20 is very lightly travelled out there.

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    Senior Member balto charlie's Avatar
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    Here's a link to this question,like yours, that I posed last year
    longest rail trails

  8. #8
    flux capacitor Orikal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by drcrash
    The Cowboy trail in Nebraska is a long one. Check out the website: http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/parks/gu...boy/cowboy.asp. The trail parallels US 20 across Nebraska. I rode it a couple years ago, and preferred riding the highway over the trail. US 20 is very lightly travelled out there.
    Is the whole thing rideable? For some reason I got the feeling only a portion is complete.
    Last edited by Orikal; 01-30-06 at 12:57 PM.

    Delusion: A false belief strongly held in spite of invalidating evidence.

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    The Michelson Trail in South Dakota is about 109 miles long and is an excellent place to ride.

    Wisconsin has a whole bucket load of trails that can be strung together for some incredible rides. For example: Starting north of La Crosse, you can ride all the way to Reedsburg on rail trail for about 100 miles. If you start at the west end of the Military Ridge trail and go across Madison to the Glacier Drumlin Trail, you could get about 90 miles of riding.

    There are more all over the nation. Try the Rails to Trails Conservancy.

    Colorado has a bunch of old railbeds that aren't designated as rail trail but are great for riding. There's Rollin's Pass which is 66 miles round trip from the east portal of the Moffat Tunnel to the west portal. That might not seem like a lot but it does top out at 11,600 feet. Boreas Pass is another great trip of around 50 miles but it's a lot shorter, at only 11,480 feet Hagerman Pass from Leadville to Basalt is another tall pass (around 12,000). One of my favorites is starting in Buena Vista and riding up Chalk Creek to Hancock. From the old town of Hancock you have to do a little hike and bike to the top of Williams Pass (don't do Hancock Pass ), make a little side trip to the Alpine Tunnel, the highest rail tunnel in North America and then down to Pitkin. You could make the trip a loop by going over Cumberland Pass to Tin Cup and then over Cottonwood Pass to Buena Vista. And just think, you'd never go below about 10,000 feet
    Last edited by cyccommute; 01-30-06 at 01:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    You live at one end of my favorite railtrails and we met on the Canalway Trail last summer.



    In Canada has several very long trails but I am not sure what the hassle would be taking your dog across the border. http://www.canadatrails.ca/biking/bike_qc.html


    Rick
    Have proof of vaccinations, at least. My brother and father took our dog across many years ago andthey were stopped until the immigrations could phone the vet to confirm the dog's shots were up to date.

    In Wisconsin, it seems you can ride about 200 miles on the Gandy Dancer and Wild Rivers state trails, returning by relatively short connection by road from the southern terminous of the Wild Rivers back to the southern terminous of the Gandy Dancer (or vv.). There is also an additional 78 mile Tuscobia State Trail that extends eastward from the middle of the Wild Rivers trail. I've never done it, but am looking at it on the map.

    I have ridden the Great Rivers - Lacrosse River - Sparta-Elroy - 400 state trails, which together are 101 miles, 3 or 4 times on my way between Minneapolis to Madison. It is a faster trail than the Katy including a series of 3 gentle grades and includes both the oldest Rails-to-Trails trail in the United States and three trailroad tunnels in the Sparta-Elroy section. The railway stations have been refurbished into trail offices and stores, including free internet and showers in some or all (both the stations and the tunnels are closed during the winter season). The trail staff go out of their way to be helpful.

    From the terminous of the 400 trail you can ride Highway 23, which comfortable margins, 4-5 hours south to the Military Ridge Trail (27 miles) and take that to Madison, where you connect to the Capital City trail (17 miles) which can connect you to the Glacial Drumlin Trail (52 mi) east. The glacial Drumlin in turn connects to the New Berlin Trail (6.5 miles) which connects to the Oak Leaf Trail (90 mile circuit of Milwaukee) or the Milwaukee Lakefront Trial ("76" trail) to Milwaukee and beyond. There two ferries to Michigan, one from Milwaukee and one from north of Milwaukee, but you are on your own from there.

    Wisconsin, which accounts for 3 out of every 5 bicycle-related sales in the United States, is fairly pro-Bike.

    Wisconsin State Trails:
    http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/...indatrail.html

    Capital City Trail:
    http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/...cific/capcity/

    Glacial Drumlin (including map for connecting by road from the Capital City Trail):
    http://www.glacialdrumlin.com/

    New Berlin Trail:
    http://www.midwestroads.com/craighol...newberlin.html

    Oak Leaf Trail:
    http://www.midwestroads.com/craigholl/bike/olt.html

    Ferries:
    http://www.lake-express.com/
    http://www.ssbadger.com/schedule/schedule.html

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by velonomad
    You live at one end of my favorite railtrails and we met on the Canalway Trail last summer.

    I think the Katy is currently the longest at 225 miles http://www.bikekatytrail.com/

    Rick
    I rode 125 miles of it last May from East to West and faced a stiff trade wind all the way. There were a lot of people riding the other direction who had started on the west coast (stealing my bragging rights for riding from St. Louis to Minneapolis to Madison) who told me I was riding the wrong direction, mostly retired veterins with interesting war stories. My first night on the trail, I slept in a town green conviently located next to a local bar and across the tracks from some serious girls' softball games, where I had some beer and hotdogs. I was woken at two AM there by the local sheriff who asked if I had seen two teenage couples who'd disappeared with their bikes (I met them coming the other way, and looking a bit like they expected hell to pay, the next morning.)

  12. #12
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingCoyote
    Have proof of vaccinations, at least. My brother and father took our dog across many years ago andthey were stopped until the immigrations could phone the vet to confirm the dog's shots were up to date.

    In Wisconsin, it seems you can ride about 200 miles on the Gandy Dancer and Wild Rivers state trails, returning by relatively short connection by road from the southern terminous of the Wild Rivers back to the southern terminous of the Gandy Dancer (or vv.). There is also an additional 78 mile Tuscobia State Trail that extends eastward from the middle of the Wild Rivers trail. I've never done it, but am looking at it on the map.

    [snip]

    Wow, thanks for this. I've always wanted to bike in Wisconsin. Really, thanks a lot.

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    Ohio has some good bike paths.

    Little Miami Scenic Trail 68 miles plus connections to others. SW Ohio Yellow Springs to Milford (Cincinatti area). Follows Littoe Miami River to the Ohio River.

    Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area Has a canal bike path that runs from Cleveland, through Akron (with a few miles yet to be constructed) through Massillon.
    50-60 miles?

    By conbining the C and O Towpath from Cumberland Maryland to Washington DC (170? miles) plus the trail along the Youghiogheny River between Pittsburgh, PA and Confluence, near Cumberland Maryland, one can bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC almost entirely on bike trails.

    Fine RTC - Trraillink.com for trails in all ? states.

  14. #14
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    C&O Canal, long and pretty.
    http://www.bikewashington.org/canal/index.htm

    Connects up with several other trails in DC: the Capital Cresent, Mount Vernon and the W&OD

  15. #15
    TouringOnBikes JerryInLodi's Avatar
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    Katy Trail from Clinton Missouri to St. Louis, a rails to trails project approximately 240 miles long. Lots of stuff available on the web. Surface is compacted limestone, as hard as concrete. I have a journal with pictures on my website.

    Natchez Trace, about 450 miles long from Baton Rouge to Nashville. Paved surface open to bikes and slow moving vehicles, most of the trace is parklike. Also tons of info on web.

    Just Google either name.

  16. #16
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    The Katy Trail is indeed about 240. I have ridden it 3 times in the last 2.5 years (all West to East) and I ride on it about once a week at the East end (where I live). It is very scenic with towns every 10-15 miles. I have never camped along the route, but I can give you some info on some of the hotels and B&B's I have stayed at. I also have some pictures on my website which is listed below. Feel free to email me if you have any questions.

    Good Luck.

  17. #17
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    Check out the Kettle Valley Railway/Trail in British Columbia. There are many websites related to this trail which covers about 600km in total. Check out: http://www.planet.eon.net/~dan/kvr.html

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    What is the typical etiquette/rule about barreling along with dogs that aren't on a lead?

  19. #19
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    What is the typical etiquette/rule about barreling along with dogs that aren't on a lead?
    Command -OFF!
    Into the bush.
    Dogs are smart.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orikal
    Is the whole thing [Nebraska's Cowboy Trail] rideable? For some reason I got the feeling only a portion is complete.
    You are correct. Only about 40% of the trail was complete at the time I rode that route. The traffic on most of US 20 (parallels the trail) is so light that I preferred the road's pavement over the trail's crushed limestone. Have fun.

  21. #21
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    How about something out of the ordinary? Perhaps a Florida bike tour! Check out the Withlacoochee Trail (46 miles through some beautiful scenery and towns). It would not be too difficult to also hook up to the General James A. Van Fleet trail (29.2 miles). It would make a great trip.

  22. #22
    Member DeeMaGlee's Avatar
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    Check out Washington DC's trails.

    It's hardly an isolated area, so if you're looking for serenity and quietness, forget it. Sunny days will make the trails as busy as the surrounding roads, but DC folk are easily put off by a wee bit of grey sky. DC does have some terrific trails though...Rock Creek Park is the largest urban park in the US, and Beach Drive has a large portion closed to vehicles on weekends in the District. The rest of it has traffic, but it's still rideable. There's also an alternate path to ride on if the traffic is too hairy for your liking.

    Tour the monuments. Take the Mount Vernon trail to George Washington's residence and take a look around. Capital Crescent trail, Anacostia Tributary trails, W&OD trail, Metropolitan Branch trail, WB&A Trail. The C&O Canal towpath to Cumberland, MD is 185 miles long.

    There's a lot of info on the WABA site about local trails.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member SteelCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1
    What is the typical etiquette/rule about barreling along with dogs that aren't on a lead?

    I imagine you mean if you encounter someone, right? Well, what I do on busy trails is keep him on lead, which we have trained each other to do well while on the bike. If it fairly deserted--for example, the Canal trail behind my house has parts that see very few people, especially on weekdays and winter--then I keep him off leash unless I see someone in the distance. Then, I command him with a hand signal to come over so I can leash him.

    I also have to careful because my dog is deaf, and that affects the decisions I make. He is also wary of strangers, particularly men and male dogs, so I never take chances. Of course, the textbook rule is never to take a deaf dog off lead, but textbooks also suggest euthanizing them.

    My system works very well for me, and I don't like it when people leave their own dog off leash as we approach each other.

  24. #24
    Urban Biker jimmuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by roccobike
    I can only provide extremely limited information. If you come across the American Tobacco Trail in your search for these paths, keep in mind it is NOT finished. A 5.5 mile section connecting Apex to Cary is complete, but it does not run all the way to Durham as shown on some maps. A section about 2 miles long has not been completed. I do not know the length of the section that is complete connecting Cary to Durham. MTB's would have little trouble navigating the missing section but you stated you did not want to deal with sections that required MTBs.
    I've ridden that section on my hybrid. It takes some manuevering to find a suitable place to cross I-40, but it's possible. The ride was a little bumpy at some parts down to Cary, but definitely navigable. We just passed a bond referendum to build a bridge over I-40 connecting those two sections of the trail. There are other trails that connect to the north of the Durham end of the ATT too. The ATT officially ends at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park currently, but you can get trails with some road travel up to Whipporwill Park in north Durham. All told, I think it's about 23 miles of trail, some parts more finished than others. I don't consider that a touring distance, but it's nice to live near it.

    I hear there is a fairly nice trail from Meyersdale, PA to somewhere near Pittsburgh. It's about 100 miles I think.

  25. #25
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    A hundred plus mile section of the south end California Aquaduct was open for cycling when I rode in that area in the 1990s. Open only to bikers and hikers, not cars. A shorter chuck in the north was open in the 1980s. Check to see if you can still use it. Easiest access is just north of the In-N-Out restruant in Hesperia.
    This space open

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