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Awesome Bike Routes in Southern US

Old 10-28-15, 03:20 PM
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Awesome Bike Routes in Southern US

I plan to do a 2 to 3 week tour of the southeast of the US this February and am looking for some awesome bike routes. I am new to the game though, so I would prefer routes that do not have heavy car traffic, and at this point I have no real interest in putting in the mileage, as I would like to to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Ideally, some of the trip should be on converted rail lines/trails. I would also like to do some some wild camping in national or state parks. Mixing that up with couch surfing or warm showers hosts and campsites.

I am thinking I could start in Florida, but that is not set in stone I'm open to any suggestion in the southeast or beyond. I am thinking at least some of the trip should be along the coast though. On cursory examination, I'm thinking I could start at Fort Lauderdale and end at Savannah Georgia, I hear traffic can be challenging up though Florida though. Again, nothing is set in stone. I would love suggestions of awesome bike routes through beautiful scenic spaces.
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Old 10-28-15, 11:38 PM
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For Rail/trail routes I recommend traillink.com . You have to register, but it's free and with little spam. Best thing to do is view the map of a trail near your start point and then select the "nearby trails" and "Google bike map" options to see what links up. From what I can see it looks like pretty slim pickins in the South though Florida has more than the rest. Maybe combine this site with some ACA maps? ACA seems to be pretty good with picking low traffic roads. You may also want to look up some CGOAB journals for Florida and Georgia. The one that comes to mind is https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=15065&v=2y1 . They start off in Key West and work their way West.

Also, wild camping in Florida National parks? I'm not from the South but gators and snakes seem like they'd be a problem.

Hope this helps and may your journey have plenty of tailwind.
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Old 10-29-15, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by RedandBlack View Post
For Rail/trail routes I recommend traillink.com . You have to register, but it's free and with little spam. Best thing to do is view the map of a trail near your start point and then select the "nearby trails" and "Google bike map" options to see what links up. From what I can see it looks like pretty slim pickins in the South though Florida has more than the rest. Maybe combine this site with some ACA maps? ACA seems to be pretty good with picking low traffic roads. You may also want to look up some CGOAB journals for Florida and Georgia. The one that comes to mind is https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/...id=15065&v=2y1 . They start off in Key West and work their way West.

Also, wild camping in Florida National parks? I'm not from the South but gators and snakes seem like they'd be a problem.

Hope this helps and may your journey have plenty of tailwind.
Thanks for the links, I am registered with trailink.com and I have started to read the journals on crazyguyonabike. I am not fully vested in starting in Florida tho and I am now zeroing in on the States I might want to start and end in, any suggestion are appreciated.

I am wondering if anyone use Adventure Cycling maps by adventurecycling.org and you opinion.
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Old 10-29-15, 06:24 AM
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When are you think of going? How long of a trip? If in the colder months how about the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier or some portion of it? If you want to do only a part of it you could pick and choose the starting and finishing points to spend time in the portions that interest you most. I didn't find the ST to have the most interesting scenery, but neither does the east coast. I did find lots of interesting people and interesting/good food on the ST.

As far as ACA maps. They are generally very good and I find them worth using. They have a ton of info about the available services and some general info about the area they pass through. OTOH, If I were riding the ST again I might opt to just ride US 90 a lot more of the way on the portion between Jacksonville Beach FL and Van Horn TX.
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Old 10-29-15, 08:22 AM
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Natchez Trace Parkway is a lower volume vehicle route. It's historical, speed limited, and has towns evenly spread along the route.
Dumps you out right near Antebellum mansions.

In Feb though, it won't be the driest of times. In Feb, most of the South will be on the cooler side, save Florida.

The Trace down to Natchez and then down into New Orleans and east along the coast into Florida could be great.



I rode parts of the Trace back in college and it's very nice- no development kn either side of the parkway for the whole route.

Mississippi has some longer paved paths that run near the Trace too, if you want to use them.
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Old 10-29-15, 08:27 AM
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On google maps checking the bike option is very helpful,, Actually traillink.com has the option to overlay the google bike info.. I have not done it yet (and I live in Florida) but the place I am planning on exploring is the LOST trail system. https://www.traillink.com/trail-maps/...st-trail).aspx We are thinking about spending a week there, renting a cabin, taking our dogs, and biking, hiking and fishing.
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Old 10-29-15, 09:09 AM
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Definitely check out the traillink.com website, which is operated by the national Rails to Trails group. That is the best source of information on long bike trails.

BTW, are you familiar with the weather in the South? It can be pretty durn cold just about anywhere in the South in February, with the exception of central and south Florida. It all depends on the timing and duration of cold fronts, and temperatures can cycle between being very mild to surprisingly cold. My birthday is in mid-January and we often take trips around the South during that time, and more often than not we seem to encounter very cold temperatures, snow and ice. Once we drove down to central Florida and camped out around Crystal Springs during the coldest weather in decades, with morning lows in the mid-teens. Another time we got caught in an ice-snow storm driving back from Savannah, GA.
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Old 10-29-15, 10:06 AM
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Natchez Trace might be a good choice, if you hit a dry week. Rain and wind in February are common and unpleasant, though.

I'd look at southern Arizona or southern California. Southern, to avoid sub-freezing weather and high altitudes (which also rules out New Mexico, although it's still dry there). Just plan to stay away from the larger cities where all the snow birds have parked their RVs. (They're all retired and drive a lot like Florida drivers, the ones that make Florida the most dangerous state to bicycle.)
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Old 10-29-15, 02:30 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
When are you think of going? How long of a trip? If in the colder months how about the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier or some portion of it? If you want to do only a part of it you could pick and choose the starting and finishing points to spend time in the portions that interest you most. I didn't find the ST to have the most interesting scenery, but neither does the east coast. I did find lots of interesting people and interesting/good food on the ST.

As far as ACA maps. They are generally very good and I find them worth using. They have a ton of info about the available services and some general info about the area they pass through. OTOH, If I were riding the ST again I might opt to just ride US 90 a lot more of the way on the portion between Jacksonville Beach FL and Van Horn TX.
Hi, I'm probably going from mid February to early March. For this trip, I'm really inspired by great vistas, and different scenery than what I'm used to, (living in Nova Scotia). So I'm giving a lot of thought to is looking out West and the Grand Canyon. I'm still thinking about my options as far as the East Coast is concerned though, it may just come down to the money and what is possible this point. But I really want to get away from it all, be in nature and not hassled by the urban blight. The costs are significantly higher for Grand Canyon National Park trip though. I can see the trip starting in Flagstaff, (should I consider any other cities as a starting point?). And then bike over some serious mountains, at serious elevation to the National Park. Any thoughts to other places in the Southwest to South Midwest I should think about? If I overland I would first have to take the Viatrain to Toronto, (24 hours), then Greyhound to Chicago, (13 hours) and then Amtrak to Flagstaff, (31 hours).

With all the contortions I would have to make overland just to get to Chicago, I am thinking about flying into Chicago. Porter Airlines from Halifax to Chicago can be had for 285+248 plus an oversized baggage fee for both directions of $75 for an oversized baggage fee of $150 in total, bringing the Porter flight to $683 before taxes. Then I would have to add the cost of the Amtrak leg, about $323 Canadian. Doing the math, it just may not be possible at this time but I'm still going to think about it. So having said all this I still think I'm on the East Coast.

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Old 10-29-15, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Definitely check out the traillink.com website, which is operated by the national Rails to Trails group. That is the best source of information on long bike trails.

BTW, are you familiar with the weather in the South? It can be pretty durn cold just about anywhere in the South in February, with the exception of central and south Florida. It all depends on the timing and duration of cold fronts, and temperatures can cycle between being very mild to surprisingly cold. My birthday is in mid-January and we often take trips around the South during that time, and more often than not we seem to encounter very cold temperatures, snow and ice. Once we drove down to central Florida and camped out around Crystal Springs during the coldest weather in decades, with morning lows in the mid-teens. Another time we got caught in an ice-snow storm driving back from Savannah, GA.

Yes, I think we can expect a cold one this year, considering the El Niņo... NOAA: Strong El Niņo sets the stage for 2015-2016 winter weather
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Old 10-29-15, 03:53 PM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Natchez Trace Parkway is a lower volume vehicle route. It's historical, speed limited, and has towns evenly spread along the route.
Dumps you out right near Antebellum mansions.

In Feb though, it won't be the driest of times. In Feb, most of the South will be on the cooler side, save Florida.

The Trace down to Natchez and then down into New Orleans and east along the coast into Florida could be great.



I rode parts of the Trace back in college and it's very nice- no development kn either side of the parkway for the whole route.

Mississippi has some longer paved paths that run near the Trace too, if you want to use them.
I will have to check it out!!
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Old 10-29-15, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Definitely check out the traillink.com website, which is operated by the national Rails to Trails group. That is the best source of information on long bike trails.

BTW, are you familiar with the weather in the South? It can be pretty durn cold just about anywhere in the South in February, with the exception of central and south Florida. It all depends on the timing and duration of cold fronts, and temperatures can cycle between being very mild to surprisingly cold. My birthday is in mid-January and we often take trips around the South during that time, and more often than not we seem to encounter very cold temperatures, snow and ice. Once we drove down to central Florida and camped out around Crystal Springs during the coldest weather in decades, with morning lows in the mid-teens. Another time we got caught in an ice-snow storm driving back from Savannah, GA.
Yes, I have my eye on the cold, I definitely don't want to go from the COLDER to the cold. Considering how the winter could shape up, I may stick to my original plan and stay around Florida.
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Old 10-29-15, 04:46 PM
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In my opinion Feb. - Mar. is prime time for riding the Southern Tier route. You will have frost quite a few nights in the western half, but most likely will have pleasantly cool daytime temperatures most of the way. You will definitely see lots of open country in the West on that route. I found the scenery a little monotonous most of the way, but enjoyed the route none the less.

The eastern half is likely to be cool and mostly fairly pleasant with a chance for some moderately cold weather.

Higher elevations can have snow at that time. There aren't many passes on the ST, but I saw just a little snow when I did the ST at that time of year going W-E. Of course there could be more. Your Grand Canyon route is probably higher and high more of the time, so it would probably be more likely to have cold and snow. I'd think the chance of it being truly cold or very snowy are fairly likely around the Grand Canyon in Feb. and early Mar.
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Old 10-29-15, 05:28 PM
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I'm thinking about driving down to South Carolina or Georgia at your same time frame, maybe late Feb or early March. It could be wet or cold. But it's likely to be warm and nice most of the days. So I'm planning to pick a town and stay a few days, doing loop rides from a base motel. If the day looks bad for riding, I'll do something else.


I like to use weatherspark.com to look at averages or last year's history (But last year was pretty extreme!) The Averages page has a lot of good summary graphs. You can pick F or C temperatures at the top of the page.

And I click the Dashboard, shrink the radar map, and look at the history.For example: Athens GA

Squash the days together using the mouse wheel, or click "Quarterly" or "Yearly", and you can see on Feb 28 the average high is 61F/16C, and half the time the high is between 55F and 68F (25% and 75% quartile). The average overnight low is 40F/4C. That will seem very nice after a cold Canadian winter.

Click the Graphs pulldown, and add the Precipitation values to the chart. If you look at last winter, you'll see March days that were very warm, followed by considerably colder days. And some very rainy days, but most were dry.

You can see that winter and spring has much bigger swings in temperature from day to day, compared to the summer and early fall.

The Averages summary page: Athens Georgia




Since it's along the coast, Savannah GA is a lot warmer. 67F/20C and 45F/7C on March 1st!

The El Nino forecast says a little cooler than normal for the south. But that's still balmy for anyone from farther north.
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Old 10-29-15, 05:53 PM
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Awesome Bike Routes in Southern US

March is when the desert blooms in SoCal...
Death Valley, Joshua Tree, Anza Borrego...
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Old 10-29-15, 07:00 PM
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The winter meth in Florida is great. The cooler temps give it a much smoother taste ; )

Excited to check out Bike Trails, Walking Trails & Trail Maps | TrailLink It looks like a cool resource.
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Old 10-30-15, 05:25 AM
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Agree with some posters who pointed out February/March would be reasonable time for southern tier section. There are reasonable Amtrak connections in Phoenix, El Paso, Austin/San Antonio, etc so would be possible to make it a one way trip. Also chances to detour to places like Big Bend National Park.

I took a trip last Christmas starting in Brownsville, TX and following the Rio Grande to Laredo and then back inland via San Antonio back to Austin. I'd put it "so-so" on your criteria list. Not much in way of rail trails and ok traffic. It was a fair amount different than Nova Scotia though.
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Old 10-30-15, 05:55 AM
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Originally Posted by sprocketss View Post
I will have to check it out!!
I think you will be quite pleased with the Trace. It runs along the Ross Barnett Reservoir in Madison, where I live on the other side of the Rez. I ride the Trace often. Nice level as well as some gently rolling hills. Good pavement, and a speed limit of 50MPH, with some places listed at 40MPH through some towns.

And as far as the weather in MS., "if you don't like it, wait 15 minutes and it will change".

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Old 10-30-15, 06:52 AM
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If you are considering starting in Florida, I'm not too sure how bad the traffic is in the Ft. Lauderdale area, but I live on the Treasure Coast in Martin County (just north of Palm Beach County). A1A on Hutchinson Island is a great place to ride with minimal traffic. I ride along there every week, and I enjoy an occasional nice view of the ocean and the Indian River. Along the east coast, the traffic is not bad from Martin County to at least Daytona, and possibly even as far north to Jacksonville. You can even stop at the Kennedy Space Center, in Brevard County and take a tour.
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Old 10-30-15, 08:02 AM
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If you do the East coast of Florida, St Augustine and Palm Coast are great places to visit.
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Old 10-30-15, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by sprocketss View Post
If I overland I would first have to take the Viatrain to Toronto, (24 hours), then Greyhound to Chicago, (13 hours) and then Amtrak to Flagstaff, (31 hours).
With layovers and the return trip, that's your first week...

With all the contortions I would have to make overland just to get to Chicago, I am thinking about flying into Chicago. Porter Airlines from Halifax to Chicago can be had for 285+248 plus an oversized baggage fee for both directions of $75 for an oversized baggage fee of $150 in total, bringing the Porter flight to $683 before taxes.
You can often get a round trip from the northeast U.S. for about that much, especially if you have flexible dates. You might want to play around with one of the travel aggregators -- pick a couple weeks in February or March, and see what fare you can get. Try different airports, too; Phoenix is big and has lots of flights, but it's peak season, while Flagstaff is small and you'd be going off-season.
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Old 10-30-15, 11:42 AM
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While there are some nice spots, I am not sure there are awesome vistas in the east. Also, the roads tend to have little to no shoulder. Use Google Street View on some of the routes are you considering to get an idea of vistas and road conditions.

If you plan to cycle east, Google flight search is very handy.

https://www.google.com/flights

For example, one-way flight from Halifax to Savannah GA (a great small airport) is $200 US (Feb 17), and a return flight from Fort Lauderdale to Halifax is $162 US (March 4). Of course factor in bike and luggage costs. The ride from Savannah to Fort Lauderdale could follow the Adventure Cycle Atlantic Coast route

Atlantic Coast | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association
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Old 10-30-15, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bwgride View Post
While there are some nice spots, I am not sure there are awesome vistas in the east. Also, the roads tend to have little to no shoulder. Use Google Street View on some of the routes are you considering to get an idea of vistas and road conditions.

If you plan to cycle east, Google flight search is very handy.

https://www.google.com/flights

For example, one-way flight from Halifax to Savannah GA (a great small airport) is $200 US (Feb 17), and a return flight from Fort Lauderdale to Halifax is $162 US (March 4). Of course factor in bike and luggage costs. The ride from Savannah to Fort Lauderdale could follow the Adventure Cycle Atlantic Coast route

Atlantic Coast | Adventure Cycling Route Network | Adventure Cycling Association

thanks, there's so many different aggregators out there, I haven't checked Google though. Yes, those of the good prices, even though I'm now looking further afield to the Southwest, I'll be checking out the Google airline search.
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Old 10-30-15, 12:38 PM
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Couple of questions, what is your favorite Southwest destination, and what would be the gateway city?

Inspirationally I want to experience the desert, the first thought that popped into my head, the Grand Canyon, and the Grand Canyon National Park. Would that be someone's first choice in Arizona, or are there other options further afield? What's everyone's favorite Southwest bike tour agenda/itinerary? One of my interests is visiting national parks somewhere where the weather is warm in March.

Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
With layovers and the return trip, that's your first week...



You can often get a round trip from the northeast U.S. for about that much, especially if you have flexible dates. You might want to play around with one of the travel aggregators -- pick a couple weeks in February or March, and see what fare you can get. Try different airports, too; Phoenix is big and has lots of flights, but it's peak season, while Flagstaff is small and you'd be going off-season.
Yep, that's what I'm doing, looking at airline search engines and I keep finding the cheapest often being American Airlines. An airline that I sweared I'd never use again. Last time I flew on them, they ended up forgetting to assign a crew to the second leg of my trip. We winded up waiting in the airport nine hours for crew. It's expensive to ship a bike via American, looking at their checked baggage rules for bikes. Do I have this right? It appears to cost $150 plus tax each way to travel with your bike!
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Old 10-30-15, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by hig4s View Post
If you do the East coast of Florida, St Augustine and Palm Coast are great places to visit.
Thanks for the tip, Florida is still in the mix.
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