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Rail trail extravaganza

Old 04-11-19, 11:32 AM
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alan s 
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Rail trail extravaganza

In a couple weeks, Iíll be heading out to ride three rail trails in succession. First will be the Katy Trail from Sedalia to St. Louis, then the Tunnel Hill Trail in Illinois out and back for a long day trip, followed by the GAP from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. While itís still a bit early in the season, hopefully the weather will cooperate. River levels are dropping on the Missouri, so unless there is a deluge, the Katy should be passable. Iíll be driving between trails, as this coincides with another trip, and will be dropped off in PGH for the final leg, and taking the train back home.

Planning to camp each night except for two, based on the availability of campgrounds and other logistics. Too complicated to go into in greater detail. I also have the option to bail on any trail if the weather is bad.

It will be nice to compare the trails back to back and see which is the ďbest.Ē
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Old 04-11-19, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
It will be nice to compare the trails back to back and see which is the ďbest.Ē
I'm curious to hear your findings. Having done the GAP and the Katy, I think I prefer the GAP for having a variety of scenery and plentiful campgrounds, but I did enjoy the Katy as well. And most of the variety of scenery took place on the first and last 30 miles, with Pittsburgh at one end, and tunnels and viaducts at the other. The miles in between were very nice, but I didn't notice any drastic changes in scenery apart from which side the river was on. My summer plans will hopefully include a 3rd trip down the GAP and finally continuing on down the C & O.
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Old 04-11-19, 07:51 PM
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Will you start your Tunnel Hill saga at Harrisburg and end at Karnak, then turn around and head back? That will be a heckuva day if that is what you are planning. Don't waste your time between Eldorado and Harrisburg, much more scenic to the south. May I suggest once you get down to Karnak that you take the 2 mile trail spur over to the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center, kind of a neat place to nose around for a while if you're a nature enthusiast.
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Old 04-11-19, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by robow View Post
Will you start your Tunnel Hill saga at Harrisburg and end at Karnak, then turn around and head back? That will be a heckuva day if that is what you are planning. Don't waste your time between Eldorado and Harrisburg, much more scenic to the south. May I suggest once you get down to Karnak that you take the 2 mile trail spur over to the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center, kind of a neat place to nose around for a while if you're a nature enthusiast.
Iím going to camp near Karnak at Riverview Campground and ride as far as I can towards Eldorado and back, but not the whole way. Iíll definitely check out the Barkhausen Cache River Wetlands Center. Whatís there?
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Old 04-11-19, 11:57 PM
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Good, you're going to concentrate on the southern end then. Vienna is about the only place you can be guaranteed to stock up on any supplies needed unless you can make it up to Harrisburg. Karnak can be hit or miss. From the campground to the trail head in Karnak is a fair piece of work with some significant climbs and rollers but beautiful scenery of the Ohio. You quite likely won't see anyone on the trial until you reach Vienna as the southern end is far more desolate and doesn't see much bike traffic. From Vienna up to the Tunnel Hill is where you will see the greatest amount of riders otherwise you'll probably have the trail to yourself.
Btw, it's VI (long I sound)enna and not VE (long E sound)enna or they'll know you're not local, Ha.
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Old 04-12-19, 08:43 AM
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I may just drive to the Wetlands Center and park there for the day. I called and they said it’s OK to park and ride from there. Any recommendations on a lunch stop along the way, let’s say within 30 miles or so of Karnak?
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Old 04-12-19, 09:30 AM
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You've got the Vienna Diner, used to be Dolly's just east of where the trail crosses highway 45. Decent local home cooked food with home made pies. The more commercial places, McDonalds, Subway are further east on 45.
Then you've got everything in Harrisburg but that's considerably further up the trail.
Between the Wetlands center and Karnak, well kind of, is Las Marias, a pretty decent Mexican restaurant. You have to realize, there's not a lot down that way. There might be a little place in Karnak but it comes and goes so often, I never count on it being open. Hope this helps.
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Old 04-12-19, 10:08 AM
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Have a great time.
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Old 04-12-19, 10:24 AM
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Sounds good. I love diners, so the Vienna Diner will definitely be on my list.
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Old 04-16-19, 10:54 AM
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Good luck! The ride from Pittsburgh to Cumberland is very fun. Connellsville, PA has a good campsite and their is a good site in Rockwood too.
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Old 04-16-19, 10:58 AM
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Old 04-16-19, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
Huh?

Or are you waiting for me to mention the used condom I encountered in one of the Connellsville shelters and/or post the link to my video the loud, late night train horn in Rockwood. If so, it's not going to happen.

Seriously (although the above is also serious)....The GAP is a fine ride, and enjoyed my stays in both those places. If I ever map out a more acceptable route than the one I followed from Cumberland home to Philly I will likely ride it again as part of another cross-PA bike tour.
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Old 04-16-19, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Huh?

Or are you waiting for me to mention the used condom I encountered in one of the Connellsville shelters and/or post the link to my video the loud, late night train horn in Rockwood. If so, it's not going to happen.

Seriously (although the above is also serious)....The GAP is a fine ride, and enjoyed my stays in both those places. If I ever map out a more acceptable route than the one I followed from Cumberland home to Philly I will likely ride it again as part of another cross-PA bike tour.
We havenít seen the Rockwood video in at least week. Youíre slacking off. No GAP thread would be complete without it. And where is Spinnaker offering free accommodations? At least make the offer (I promise I will not take you up on it). Iíve ridden from Cumberland to Connellsville and back, but not the portion from PGH to Connellsville, so that will be new.
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Old 04-16-19, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


We havenít seen the Rockwood video in at least week. Youíre slacking off. No GAP thread would be complete without it. And where is Spinnaker offering free accommodations? At least make the offer (I promise I will not take you up on it).
You win Touring today!
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Old 04-16-19, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Huh?
I do that when I want to subscribe to a thread & listen in
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Old 04-16-19, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
... ... the loud, late night train horn in Rockwood.... ....
Or, the train going past the camping area at the Y in Cumberland.

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Old 04-17-19, 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Or, the train going past the camping area at the Y in Cumberland.

But was there a horn? Wait until 0:09:

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Old 04-17-19, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
But was there a horn? Wait until 0:09:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eBa1j8F0dk
MSN, Iíll let that slide. Not technically on a rail trail (you got the rail part, for sure though). Indyfabz, thanks for sharing.
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Old 04-21-19, 08:19 PM
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Turner Shelter

This is a great place on the KATY for 5$/ night. Bed, showers and food. Its in Tebbetts, so it depends on how many miles/day you are traveling.
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Old 04-21-19, 09:26 PM
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Originally Posted by b_young View Post
Turner Shelter

This is a great place on the KATY for 5$/ night. Bed, showers and food. Its in Tebbetts, so it depends on how many miles/day you are traveling.
Appreciate the suggestion, but that would make for a 96 mile first day, which is more than planned. However, with a good tailwind, who knows? Looks like a great place to stay.
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Old 05-04-19, 10:11 PM
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Finished the trip today. Aside from the occasional rain on each trail, it turned out great, and the temperature was very comfortable most of the time. Must say that rail trails are great to ride on, but can also be a bit predictable. Some variation makes for a more enjoyable ride. Experiencing three rail trails in succession provides for a good comparison. And the winner is . . . the Katy Trail. Close behind is the GAP, followed by the Tunnel Hill Trail. I base this on which trail I would choose first to ride again. Granted, this was my second GAP trip, but I think the Katy Trail has somewhat more to offer. The Tunnel Hill Trail was nice, but is considerably shorter and there is far less to see along the way. I’ll follow up with photos and a description of each.
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Old 05-05-19, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Finished the trip today. Aside from the occasional rain on each trail, it turned out great, and the temperature was very comfortable most of the time. Must say that rail trails are great to ride on, but can also be a bit predictable. Some variation makes for a more enjoyable ride. Experiencing three rail trails in succession provides for a good comparison. And the winner is . . . the Katy Trail. Close behind is the GAP, followed by the Tunnel Hill Trail. I base this on which trail I would choose first to ride again. Granted, this was my second GAP trip, but I think the Katy Trail has somewhat more to offer. The Tunnel Hill Trail was nice, but is considerably shorter and there is far less to see along the way. I’ll follow up with photos and a description of each.
So what is ti that the Katy has that is more to offer? More towns? Better views? Better camping?

Parts of the GAP can be very bring but other parts are just spectacular. Exiting the Big Savage going toward Cumberland always gives me chills. At the top of my list of my favorite scenic areas.

You should have added the Greenbrier trail to your tour.
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Old 05-05-19, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post

You should have added the Greenbrier trail to your tour.
Spin, I thought the same thing. Add the Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota as well. I checked that one off last September and it was excellent ! So many trails, so little time.
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Old 05-05-19, 06:03 PM
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So, the Katy Trail first. Saw lots of wildlife including two wild turkeys, a coyote, an owl, a flying squirrel, numerous buzzards, several catfish, a woodpecker and a wide variety of other birds. The first night was camping in Sedalia at the fairgrounds, which had some kind of horse competition going on and a large factory across the street. So it was not all that quiet and the temperature dipped into the 30s. The new tent I purchased for this trip (which will be the subject of another thread) is a significant upgrade from the REI tent I’ve used for the past 7 years.




The next day was nice riding from Sedalia to Boonville, which was far fewer miles than planned. The trail is mostly up and down at railroad grades in that section. After a nice lunch at the Main Street Diner, the forecast was calling for rain, so I got a room at Hotel Frederick, which is an amazing property overlooking the Missouri River. Lots of historical information there, and a surprising number of touring cyclists.



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Old 05-05-19, 08:31 PM
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The next day on the Katy Trail was nice riding along the bluffs of the Missouri River. The forecast again called for a night of rain and torrential rains the entire following day, so I rode to Jefferson City, got another hotel room, and bought a return Amtrak ticket to St. Louis. Had a nice lunch in Rocheport, and a peaceful ride to Jefferson City.






There were a few detours along the way, which actually provided a nice change of scenery from the trail, and finally over the bridge to the other side of the Missouri.

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