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  1. #1
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Touring In the Midwest.

    I plan to take a bike ride in early Oct. Thought I would check this forum for ideas for a week tour here in the Midwest. Iím familiar with the Katy Trail, itís sort of my local playground, I enjoy riding it and that may be what I will do, but would like to find other trails or routes that people enjoy touring. Plan to camp with a night or two at motel or B&B. What are your Midwest favorites? Suggestions appreciated.
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    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Reedsburg to Marshland, WI via the 4 connected Rails to Trails sections, about 200 miles, there and back. Lots of stuff on the web on each section

    http://www.400statetrail.org/trail-map.pdf

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    Just got back from Reedsburg to Lacrosse, Hwy 16 across the Mississippi to La crescent to Houston MN which is the start of the Root River Bike Trail that is paved unlike Wisconsin's crushed limestone. The WI trail was in very good condition. Plenty of camping available if your doing that aspect.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    My preference is to avoid rail trails and other bike trails in favor of regular roads. I have crossed Kansas a couple times as part of a longer tour and found it a nice place to tour. You can find a place to camp in most small towns, usually in the town park. I recall only one small town park in Kansas (Satanta) where I was not allowed to camp in the town park but asking around got me an invite to camp at a local church. I typically never managed to get actually permission, but usually asked at the general store or minimart, "Do you think anyone will run me off if I pitch a tent for the night in the park". If the town is large enough to have cops, I usually ask them.

    The people are usually exceedingly nice in Kansas. The scenery is a bit boring for most of the state, although the Flint Hills were pretty at least in the Spring when I was there.

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    I also tend to find rail-trails a bit boring. They start to feel like straight and endless tree tunnels. BUT, one could plot courses based on rail trails and hop of to parallel roads if they are not to your liking. WI has most of its roads paved so you can choose a route from a map and be less likely to encounter endless gravel stretches (unlike IL, IA, MI, etc).
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    Senior Member irwin7638's Avatar
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    The western coast of Michigan is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline you can find. I recently began and ended a trip in the Traverse Bay area. I used the long-term parking at the airport for a starting point. US Bike Route 35 has been designated along the coast from New Buffalo to Mackinaw City, that, or a portion of it , would be a good thing to consider.

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    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    My preference is to avoid rail trails and other bike trails in favor of regular roads.
    Funny, I enjoy the Rails to Trails. No traffic to worry about, a lot of nature to view, no major hills for those less fit, and will often meet a lot more cyclists along with plenty of places to camp. Now I wouldn't want every mile of every tour to be R to T, but I enjoy a nice mix of it in there.

    I would also highly recommend touring in Arkansas. Lots of great State Parks, friendly residents and you can get all the help needed with specific routes on the ABC (Arkansas Bike Club) website, many of which are already posted. Wonderful scenery, far better IMO than eastern CO and Kansas.

    http://www.arkansasbicycleclub.org/p...forum.php?f=22
    Last edited by robow; 08-21-12 at 12:01 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the info, thoughts and links, that is what I was looking for. Still have to look at all of the links so even more information ahead. Really appreciate it! Will report back on what I find and decide to do.

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    Mickelson trail in SD. http://www.mickelsontrailaffiliates.com/

    Definitely a switch from your typical rail trail. It's an overnighter.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    Funny, I enjoy the Rails to Trails.
    Yes, I can see where folks would. My stated preference was in no way intended to denigrate R to T for those who like them. It was just a personal preference. I will say that on occasion I have enjoyed some bike trails, but I probably wouldn't go out of my way to ride any of them rather than stay on regular roads where those roads are suitable.

    I do kind of like the idea of riding off road trails with more of a rougher single track flavor, but that is a different kind of tour than I have done so I do not have a real good feel for how I might find that. My recent aborted tour had a bit of that, but I had to bail before I got into much real trail or rough jeep road. I would have a better idea how I would like that type of tour if I had not been hit with altitude sickness (AMS and HAPE) and needed to retreat to lower altitudes.

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    We live in northeastern Minnesota, and there's nice cycling up here, but if I had to pick one area in the Midwest within a day's drive of St. Louis or central Missouri, I'd pick western Wisconsin, particularly the driftless area of Wisconsin (roughly the area south and west of I-90). Lots of quiet paved roads, rail trails if you like them (including some mentioned above), good bicycling resources (such as the excellent Wisconsin bicycling maps from the Wisconsin DOT), interesting scenery with hills and valleys. plenty of facilities available, and generally bike friendly. And early October would be *gorgeous* there.

    If you want to go farther afield, consider the area around the Keewenaw Peninsula of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We recently went on a little trip there and it was great biking: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=11056&v=88

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    tly
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    The Wabash Trace is a really nice trail that starts in Council Bluffs IA and runs to Barnard, Mo. You can continue on some good but somewhat hilly rural Missouri roads into Maryville, Mo. I did this last year while trying to ride a portion of the Lewis and Clark trail but had to divert because of a flooded Missouri River.
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  14. #14
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tly View Post
    The Wabash Trace is a really nice trail that starts in Council Bluffs IA and runs to Barnard, Mo. You can continue on some good but somewhat hilly rural Missouri roads into Maryville, Mo. I did this last year while trying to ride a portion of the Lewis and Clark trail but had to divert because of a flooded Missouri River.
    Tly, I will check into the Wabash Trace also, but was wondering, how is the trail for services and camping?
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    Senior Member Konasutra's Avatar
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    There ae some cool sites on some Rails to Trails .......... High Trestle Trail Ankeny,Ia. to Woodward,Ia.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y-iN...=ULUIum8a9WSsU

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    tly
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    Wabash trace

    Quote Originally Posted by DW99 View Post
    Tly, I will check into the Wabash Trace also, but was wondering, how is the trail for services and camping?
    There are several nice towns along the trace. Coin and Shennendoa come to mind. Also, south of Shennendoa ther is a park called Issac Walton that is maintained by the trace association. We camped ther and it was very nice although primitive. We lucked out and the volunteer that was mowing opened the building for us so that we could shower. I think there is an outhouse if you don't get lucky like we did.

    Oh yeah there is a nice little pub in a little town where we pulled in for a cold one but I can't remember the name.
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    Quote Originally Posted by DW99 View Post
    I plan to take a bike ride in early Oct. Thought I would check this forum for ideas for a week tour here in the Midwest. Iím familiar with the Katy Trail, itís sort of my local playground, I enjoy riding it and that may be what I will do, but would like to find other trails or routes that people enjoy touring. Plan to camp with a night or two at motel or B&B. What are your Midwest favorites? Suggestions appreciated.
    Check M22 and M115 in northern lower peninsula in Michigan. Traverse city, and all the way to lake Michigan, Benzie county, sleeping bear dunes, tunnel of trees... This is my favorite area for bicycle vacations. A lot of lakes, forest, campgrounds , b&b... Very little traffic, beautiful and not boring roads... Close to Mackinac Island where only bikes are allowed... It's heaven... And it was voted as the most beautiful place in USA by Good Morning America viewers... Good luck!
    Last edited by lopek77; 08-27-12 at 04:35 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    My preference is to avoid rail trails and other bike trails in favor of regular roads. I have crossed Kansas a couple times as part of a longer tour and found it a nice place to tour. You can find a place to camp in most small towns, usually in the town park. I recall only one small town park in Kansas (Satanta) where I was not allowed to camp in the town park but asking around got me an invite to camp at a local church. I typically never managed to get actually permission, but usually asked at the general store or minimart, "Do you think anyone will run me off if I pitch a tent for the night in the park". If the town is large enough to have cops, I usually ask them.

    The people are usually exceedingly nice in Kansas. The scenery is a bit boring for most of the state, although the Flint Hills were pretty at least in the Spring when I was there.
    I live in Kansas and concur with your statement about how nice people are. Most towns here are very accommodating to bikers. Flint Hills area is very pretty. Other places worth riding are in the north-east part of the state around Lawrence or father up near Leavenworth. Also the Gypsum Hills in the south central part of the state looks like a scene from Arizona with red mesa's and plateau's. All these areas are not the stereotypical Kansas scenery and all are very low traffic areas.

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    Senior Member chas58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    Check M22 and M115 in northern lower peninsula in Michigan. Traverse city, and all the way to lake Michigan, Benzie county, sleeping bear dunes, tunnel of trees... This is my favorite area for bicycle vacations. A lot of lakes, forest, campgrounds , b&b... Very little traffic, beautiful and not boring roads... Close to Mackinac Island where only bikes are allowed... It's heaven... And it was voted as the most beautiful place in USA by Good Morning America viewers... Good luck!

  20. #20
    Senior Lurker, mostly. DW99's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for all of the excellent information!

    "Check M22 and M115 in northern lower peninsula in Michigan." tops the list, but for next year. It sounds really nice. This October; 2 or 3 days including travel on the Wabash Trace in Iowa, a couple of days on the Prarie Spirit Trail in Kansas and finish the time off on the Katy. That is as it stands today. What can I say? I like rail trails. Have order the book on the MRT, looking forward to checking that out also.

    Thanks again for the replies, all good information for us mid-westerners and then some!
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    He said okay, you're ugly too." -Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member Gravity Aided's Avatar
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    I've been on some of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and Hennepin Canal Trails Those are nice , with lots of interesting parks on the I&M . Very flat trails for the most part , as they are the old towpath for canals .

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    My wife and I road the portion of the Prairie Spirit Trail from Ottawa, KS to Garnett, KS (out and back) and found it to be a very nice ride. The entire trail goes from Ottawa, KS to Iola, KS, for a total length of 51 miles.

    Also, a HUGE +1 for the High Trestle Trail. We road from Woodward, IA to the "Oasis" and back. It was an easy 35 mile ride, along a trail paved in concrete and asphalt.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member robow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gravity Aided View Post
    I've been on some of the Illinois and Michigan Canal and Hennepin Canal Trails Those are nice , with lots of interesting parks on the I&M . Very flat trails for the most part , as they are the old towpath for canals .
    Yea, those are definitely worthwhile, and should be noted as part of the Grand Illinois Trail System, a 550 mile loop

    http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/recreati...usersguide.pdf
    Last edited by robow; 09-15-12 at 09:38 AM.

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    Senior Member Gravity Aided's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by robow View Post
    Yea, those are definitely worthwhile, and should be noted as part of the Grand Illinois Trail System, a 550 mile loop

    http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/recreati...usersguide.pdf
    What a fantastic ride that would be . League of Illinois Bicyclists also has a Route 66 Trail and a trail betwixt Peoria and Bloomington . Once you get to Front St. in Bloomington, you might keep on riding the trail for a while, though . Tough Neighborhood.

  25. #25
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    You'll love the Michigan route. Beautiful.

    We are new to touring but we completed the entire West coast of Michigan 2 weeks ago. Actually, Indiana state line to roughly Traverse City with my wife and 10 year old. Then my wife and I went back and did the rest (M119) to Mackinaw City. Get in hill climb mode from Manistee to Harbor Springs though. Especially for M22. Here's our short blog on it that I posted on another thread.

    thetaylorfamilyride.blogspot.com/

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