If you want to skip all the rambling and what not, I could use suggestions of places/things to see between the Northeast and Dallas.
I'm looking at for ideas for a good route from here near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania to Dallas, Texas. If you don't feel like looking up exact locations, anywhere in Pennsylvania or New York would be close enough to consider the big picture sort of plans. My plan is to go as early in the spring as I feel comfortable with. I've looked at a few different possible routes and I really have no great way of comparing them myself.
I've done some multi-day trips, but don't have a ton of experience. I'm in no real hurry to get anywhere in particular. I've been off the East Coast far too little, and when I have it's always been air travel so I didn't really get a sense of things. I would greatly prefer a going generally west of the Appalachians so I could see new things. I have family in Dallas and figure it's a place where I can stop go to and figure out what else if anything I want to see when I get there. My bike is a mountain bike so rail trails and anything of that sort would be great.
My first idea was head south to Adventure Cycling's TransAm, hop off north of Dallas somewhere. Would be straight East to West which I've heard bad things about the headwinds, but it's an established route so might be easier logistically in a lot of ways.
Their Underground Railroad route looks interesting going in the right general direction most of the way. I'm not sure how going North to South on this would affect things. This would leave me well East of Dallas so would involve either ditching it early or some backtracking. On the plus side I might be able to find some friendly faces in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. The Gulf Coast would be interesting I would think too. The could be also used Northbound for a return trip if that's what I decide on.
Direct to Nashville area for Natchez Trace seems tempting. This should give me a significant section that sounds close to ideal for touring. It doesn't quite head where I'm going, but for a good ride who really cares. I haven't really done enough research on this one to know too much about it.
I guess my biggest question is what out there should I not miss? I can come up with a route to get me from A to B myself. The journey is far more important than the destination though, and that's where I could use suggestions. Places to camp with good mountain bike trails would really tempt me. There would be some added logistics to finding knobby tires, but it would be worth the trouble to hang out a few days somewhere fun.
Cannondale T1000, Inbred SS 29er, Supercaliber 29er, Crescent Mark XX, Burley Rumba Tandem
I really like the roads/riding in Western Arkansas. Going thru there and coming into Texas at Texarkana would put you on some very pretty, low traffic roads. Also, prevailing winds in North Texas are South to North, so coming across at an angle like that would be to your advantage as well.
That's the third time I've wandered onto that motorcycle trail kbabin. That might actually work very well for me. Looks to be the same general idea of the Great Divide route, but I would have to assume much much flatter. The $130 or so for the maps for the parts I care about hurts a bit, but that sure would be a lot more interesting than roads all the time.
I didn't mention this but I'll be carrying an offroad mapping GPS, so that makes this look more reasonable as well.
The more I think about that the more fun it looks.
Two quick somewhat disconnected thoughts on what has been posted:
- I've done the Natchez Trace, and it is a nice ride.
- I'll second the comment related to Arkansas. It is perhaps that I had negative
stereotypes of AR to set my expectations low, but I was pleasantly surprised
when touring across northern AR and the Ozarks.
These are signed on-road bike routes, not trails, although a trail may be used if one is available. Shoulders can vary from broad to non-existent. This is the S Route, just before the intersection with the L route.