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Route suggestions: Louisville to Cincinnati

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Route suggestions: Louisville to Cincinnati

Old 08-23-15, 04:00 PM
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markjenn
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Route suggestions: Louisville to Cincinnati

Hi, mid-Sept, I'm planning a brief, solo 4-day credit-card tour from near Louisville (actually New Albany) to Columbus Ohio via Cincinnati. The route form Cincinnati to Columbus appears well-defined by Ohio Route 1 which links up a bunch of bike paths and I've got the maps. My main concern is a good two-day route from Louisville to Cincinnati, particularly whether to stay on the S side of the Ohio River in Kentucky or the N side in Indiana.

Any suggestions appreciated, thanks,

- Mark
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Old 08-23-15, 06:37 PM
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Are you using maps and cue sheets, or a GPS? I can plot some very complicated routes for my Garmin GPS that I wouldn't like to do as a cue sheet.

Is a scenic route that's hilly preferred over a flatter, more direct route?

Motels or B&B? What about meals--good restaurants or local take-out?


~~~~
I've been thinking about an overnight ride Cincinnati to Madison next year. I'd probably try to make the return a two day ride, I suppose. Two 90-100 mile rides in a row is a lot for me.

There's only a few bridges over the Ohio River between Madison and Cincinnati.

Option 1: Louisville to Georgetown, then to Cincinnati
Louisville KY to Georgetown KY is about 75 miles on the most direct route. I did the Horsey Hundred ride this year, a loop from Georgetown over to Frankfort and back. There was a lot of great scenery, creek valleys and horse farms. Following some of that route would probably add 5-15 miles. It's hilly near Frankfort and Georgetown, lots of small to medium rolling hills.

Georgetown is an interesting small college town.

Georgetown to Cincinnati: 92 miles Route link

You want to avoid the I-75 corridor, and the major highways (if possible).
I sketched this route together. The part from Georgetown to Falmouth KY needs work--I've never ridden down there.
Falmouth to Cincinnati is a very nice route. But there's a couple of fairly steep 300 foot climbs out of Falmouth.

Option 2: Louisville to Madison Indiana (or to Carrollton's General Butler State Park) then to Cincinnati
Madison is very nice. It's a historic river town, and most of the modern development is up at the top of the hills. A big historic district, and a nice "Main Street" commercial district.
Google maps says the most direct route via Indiana is 47 miles. I don't know the area, but I would probably stay on the KY side of the Ohio River and follow the less used side roads instead of the main highways.

But, there's no short way to Cincinnati from Madison.

Overland: Here's Madison to Carrollton to Dry Ridge to Cincinnati, 103 miles! Route Map Link.

A group of us did a ride from Dry Ridge to General Butler State Resort Park in Carrollton KY. It's a nice route. You could stay at General Butler overnight, it's 15 miles past Madison, leaving 88 miles. I haven't ridden the part from mile 55 to mile 64, but the rest is familiar territory. You could even take a more direct route to Carrollton, skipping the visit to Madison.

A stop overnight in Alexandria would shorten the day by 17 more miles. BUT--there's just no motels anywhere near there.

General Butler has good motel style accommodations and a nice restaurant. (It's a steep climb up the hill in the park, though!)

Along the river:
Riding along the Ohio River is flatter, (and kind of boring after a while) and 93 miles. Map Link here. I would expect more traffic, but the roads are straight and the cars can pass okay. There's no good route on the section from mile 37 to 52, it's hilly and might be fairly busy with traffic since there's just no alternate roads to take. After that, the route is well known to local cyclists.

You could stay on the Indiana side, but it gets busy from Rising Sun through Lawrenceburg and western Cincinnati. I'd avoid it.

Last edited by rm -rf; 08-23-15 at 08:04 PM.
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Old 08-23-15, 06:57 PM
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Cincinnati to Columbus.

I don't know "Route 1". I assume you mean the Little Miami Bike Trail and the linked bike paths out of Xenia OH.

The Little Miami trail is very nice, a converted railroad that mostly follows the river valley. Lots of wooded sections, and no hills. Closer to Xenia, it becomes more urbanized. I think the trails from Xenia to Columbus are parallel to highways, out in the farmland, with less shade, and maybe not as scenic.

The trail doesn't reach downtown Cincinnati yet. But there's a couple of good routes to get to the trailhead.


Cincinnati to Xenia to London to Columbus

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Old 08-23-15, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Along the river: Riding along the Ohio River is flatter, (and kind of boring after a while) and 93 miles. Map Link here. I would expect more traffic, but the roads are straight and the cars can pass okay. There's no good route on the section from mile 37 to 52, it's hilly and might be fairly busy with traffic since there's just no alternate roads to take. After that, the route is well known to local cyclists.

You could stay on the Indiana side, but it gets busy from Rising Sun through Lawrenceburg and western Cincinnati. I'd avoid it.
I just spent a week in Cinci and thanks to a bike loan got some riding time in. My impression of the roads on the Kentucky side of the river was that they were much less heavily traveled but had some issues, such as wide cracks parallel to travel and "interesting" shoulders (picture a disused guard rail, removed by torching the uprights about 5 inches off the ground, lining the outside of the four inch drop off from the most recent repave). Despite that, dodging the cars on the Ohio side of the river was less fun.

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Old 08-23-15, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by hilltowner View Post
I just spent a week in Cinci and thanks to a bike loan got some riding time in. My impression of the roads on the Kentucky side of the river was that they were much less heavily traveled but had some issues, such as wide cracks parallel to travel and "interesting" shoulders (picture a disused guard rail, removed by torching the uprights about 5 inches off the ground, lining the outside of the four inch drop off from the most recent repave). Despite that, dodging the cars on the Ohio side of the river was less fun.
Ha, that sounds like certain parts of Route 8 along the Ohio River. It needs frequent repairs due to sagging road surfaces. But it's still a good road to ride, you just have to watch the road ahead.

A bigger problem with long rides south from Cincinnati is the lack of stores or gas stations in most of the smallest towns for water and food stops. A zoom in on Google Maps helps to find the few convenience stores. And some of the hills can be steep, 300 foot climbs at 8-10% or even steeper.

Strava Global Heatmap

Here's the Northern KY section of the map.

Strava has color coded roads from the ride recordings that were uploaded to it. Bright red are the most commonly used, blue somewhat less popular. As you zoom in, more secondary routes get colored in.

Some of these routes are the local "hill rides". And some are just the only reasonable way to get to a destination. But most are good for riding.

You can bookmark the current view anytime, to come back to that same area later.

Last edited by rm -rf; 08-23-15 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 08-23-15, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
I don't know "Route 1". I assume you mean the Little Miami Bike Trail and the linked bike paths out of Xenia OH.
Correct. It's also called the Ohio to Erie Trail. It links up a bunch of smaller trails. I got the maps from this website and they appear quite good. Unless someone has a strong alternative, I'm just going to follow this route from Cincinnati to Columbus.

Ohio to Erie Trail - Home

Lots of good suggestions about the Louisville to Cincinnati segment. I'll get out my maps and attempt to digest it shortly. I'm not looking for anything challenging or exotic; just a good, reasonably-direct, not-too-heavily-traveled route that can be done in two days without going over 65 miles/day or so and which has a decent hotel in the middle.

- Mark
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Old 08-23-15, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Strava Global Heatmap

Here's the Northern KY section of the map.

Strava has color coded roads from the ride recordings that were uploaded to it. Bright red are the most commonly used, blue somewhat less popular. As you zoom in, more secondary routes get colored in.
That's simply amazingly cool technology. Great find.

- Mark
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Old 08-24-15, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
Correct. It's also called the Ohio to Erie Trail. It links up a bunch of smaller trails. I got the maps from this website and they appear quite good. Unless someone has a strong alternative, I'm just going to follow this route from Cincinnati to Columbus.
Did that route last year. Landed at the airport, biked to Columbus over a few days and then beyond Columbus for another day.

Xenia is the junction of a number of trails, but somehow I lost the Ohio to Erie trail for a bit when passing through. Pay close attention to the signs and keep your map handy.

When I got close to Columbus, the path fizzled out. It was (and I think still is) under construction. Unfortunately, construction was running ahead of the signage, so I ended up following the path and having it drop me into an area with no signage, so, again, keep the map handy. The path is more complete now than when I went, but I don't know how far it takes you. I ended up going into Columbus on Broad St. It wasn't fun, but given the way the roads are laid out, it was often the best option. Assuming you need to head into or through downtown Columbus, I'd plan the route to minimize time spent on Broad St.
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Old 08-24-15, 05:37 PM
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I thought about your trip today. It's very difficult to get a route that's 65-75 miles each day, and find a motel and restaurant at the stopping points. They are scarce away from the interstates.

For example: Here's a reasonably direct route, following some of the Strava roads closer to Louisville, and then over to roads I know in northern KY. I was thinking that the hilly Kentucky portion should be fewer miles, with longer distances on the flat trails. But it's not obvious where to stay. The POI markers I put on the route don't really work.
Louisville-Columbus, 250 miles.

I think it's really a 5 day trip. That allows for detours to good towns to stay in, avoiding rush hour in Cincinnati, etc. There's a lot of hills in Kentucky, and you'd want to shorten the mileage there.

Or, start north of Louisville or stop well before Columbus.
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Old 08-24-15, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
Ha, that sounds like certain parts of Route 8 along the Ohio River.
Route 8 it was. I rode along the river until I got to the Anderson Ferry, crossed to the north side and returned to Cinci. By far the most pleasant riding was on the Kentucky side. I couldn't help looking with apprehension at those dragon teeth along the shoulder however. To the OP that was on the westbound side of the road. But they might suggest the Kentucky Highway Dept. practices are somewhat less than bicyclist savy.
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Old 08-25-15, 12:42 AM
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Originally Posted by rm -rf View Post
I thought about your trip today.
Wow, that's a pretty cool route you've laid out. Thanks. Sure looks like it has some serious ups/downs though and doing the route in four days would be tough for me, especially with the climbing. The hotel problem is as you say.

I'm pretty much "locked in" to a 4-day trip, so I think I'm tending towards a more direct/flatter route that stays closer to the river the first two days with presumably less rolling hills and climbing. The natural stopping points for a hotel would appear to be Madison, Cincinnati, and Xenia.

The Madison to Cincinnati segment looks like I can just follow the Ohio River Scenic Byway route on the N side of the river which looks pretty laid-back until getting to the Aurora area where the route dumps out on US50 which appears to be a mess. But I think I can access some backroads and cut the total time I'm on 50 to maybe eight or ten miles and there appear to be some back routes through the W. Cincinnati suburbs. The alternative is to go across the Madison bridge and follow along the river on the Ky side but this looks much more industrial for 35 miles or so before it turns away from the river and up to Cincinnati.

Louisville to Madison I'm unsure of. The IN side would be mostly on 62, the KY side would be on 42 with a nasty stint on US421 nearing Madison (which I could bypass by doing a longer loop nearer the river).

- Mark
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Old 08-25-15, 01:03 PM
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Riding along the Ohio is certainly an easy navigation.

The highway from Aurora to the west side of Cincinnati is rideable, outside of rush hour, I think. (But I haven't even driven over there for quite a few years.) I see on Strava there's a new bike path closer to the river between Aurora and Lawrenceburg, bypassing US50.

Once you cross into Ohio past Lawrenceburg, it becomes a 5 lane road that's not very busy outside of rush hours, and cars can pass easily. I'd have blinking lights on.

Look for Hillside Avenue that parallels US50, running along the hillside. A nicer road, and just a short detour. More rolling than US50, though.

EDIT-- here's a good route through Cincinnati, skipping the hills. I've never ridden to Lawrenceburg, we usually ride on the KY side. I'll have to try it sometime. ridewithgps.com/routes/10013241

Highlights:
Views of the Ohio River, then the new riverfront parks in downtown Cincinnati. East on Riverside drive with a bike lane, then a detour to Lunken Airport's bike path and Armleder park. Catch the south end of the Little Miami Trail just past Mariemont OH.

Rising Sun Indiana has a casino boat. It looks like there's quite a few motels in town, and some restaurants. (Lawrenceburg has a casino, too.) And Kings Island amusement park is next to Mason OH. So, depending on the rest of your mileage, these could work as overnights. But that's a long day from Mason to Columbus!

Let me know if you have any more questions. I'll stop here.

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Old 08-25-15, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by markjenn View Post
The Madison to Cincinnati segment looks like I can just follow the Ohio River Scenic Byway route on the N side of the river which looks pretty laid-back until getting to the Aurora area where the route dumps out on US50 which appears to be a mess.
If you are still on US50 as you get closer to Cinci, you might consider the reverse of my route this summer. Take the Anderson Ferry to the KY side and ride in through Covington and Newport. Cross into Cinci on the Purple People Bridge in Newport. It's a very bike friendly route if you are tired of traffic by then. The ferry is inexpensive. A word of warning if you approach Cinci from the west. Google bike directions had me crossing the tracks via the Western Hills Viaduct (I was heading out of the city). It didn't look safe so I backed off. The guys in the local fire station where I stopped to get directions said they wouldn't recommend taking a bicycle across it. They also called the neighborhoods on the west side of the tracks "high crime." I chose a different route to ride that day.
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Old 08-26-15, 06:03 PM
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Just came through Cincy today and am sitting in Owenton, KY right now. Great route once I got around the forced detour on the NE side of Cincy due to riding into a homicide scene. The forced reroute actually was quite nice and didn't have much traffic. Trying to put this down backwards might be a bit challenging but I'll give it a shot.

(unnamed) - Switzerland County, IN

Not much traffic and good road conditions with wide shoulders and not much in the way of rumble strips to deal with either. KY seems to put down rumble strips even when their isn't much of a shoulder to ride on, at least on US42/US127 they do.
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