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C and O/GAP ... and north of Milwaukee suggestions please

Old 02-22-20, 02:58 AM
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C and O/GAP ... and north of Milwaukee suggestions please

My wife and I have recently been given some fantastic responses to this post a few weeks ago USA touring suggestions wanted ... lots of great responses with helpful suggestions and ideas for a 6 week tour in the USA starting in early June.
We have settled on a basic plan which involves flying to Washington DC from Australia and heading north west on the C and O and GAP cycle paths. Getting the train from Pittsburgh to Chicago seems like good idea ... and maybe continue on the train to Milwaukee after a look around Chicago. From Milwaukee we are thinking of heading north on the bikes into the northern Wisconsin/Lake Michigan area ... and even further north if time allows. When we have about a week remaining we would jump on a train back to Washington DC and fly home after a few days of sight seeing. Nothing has been booked or set in stone but the clock is ticking and it's time to commit to at least some flight tickets and initial post jet lag accommodation in DC for a couple of nights.
We are again after suggestions/ideas/warnings/things not to miss, but this time for a more specific route/destination as stated above. We tour on a pair of Rohloff equipped Thorn Ravens and cary full camping/cooking kit with capacity to load for at least 3 days of remote travel between service points if required. We do like to reward ourselves with regular stays in bricks and mortar accommodation as weather conditions and general fatigue dictate. Any information regarding accommodation options, alternative routes, things to avoid etc. would be greatly appreciated.
... and specifically:
- best option for mobile phone SIM/plan (we have Google/Android Pixel 3 phones) for a 6 week period
- best option for cooking fuel/availability (we have a Trangia cooker which we have used with both gas and methylated spirits in the past)
- do we need specific paper maps? ... we will use open street maps on our Garmin GPS for electronic navigation ...
- bike friendly accomodation in DC (and anywhere else along our intended route)
- availability of showers at campsites along C and O and GAP trails
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Old 02-22-20, 08:47 AM
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I can offer detailed advice from the Chicago-Milwaukee segment and north from there. You won't need paper maps for the Chicago-Milw area, though I can't speak for the DC area. As long as you have (backup) battery power...a GPS or smartphone will take you anywhere. I tend to dislike a smartphone with marginal battery backup as you may need the phone for emergencies.

Here's a good route from south of Milwaukee(Caledonia) to Point Beach State Park. It goes through several popular state parks that have camping(Harrington Beach State Park, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Point Beach State Park). Wisconsin has a policy that even if the (state park) campground is full, anyone arriving on foot or on a bike will have a place to camp. Most of this route is a dedicated, paved bike path. The road connectors are very low traffic rural roads. It goes through a number of nice towns.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29711099

There are other paths or decent road routes between Chicago and Caledonia..I have routes for those, or they can be worked out. There's a nice campground in Caledonia about 3 miles from the southern trailhead in the map linked above. If I'm around when you come through, I can ride/lead you through the city section of Milwaukee..it's all paved bike trail in parks, with a few twists and turns, to get you to the north side of the city...it's I nice ride..done it many times.

If you'd like to travel north of Point Beach State Park (into Door County Wisconsin) there's a nice rail-trail (Ahnapee State Trail) that will take you to Sturgeon Bay, WI. From there you can take rural roads up into Door County..very nice area with lots of towns, art galleries, wineries..etc.. and places to camp.
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Old 02-22-20, 01:20 PM
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The cheapest accommodation in DC is free - Swains Lock at Mile 16 on the C&O. You can ride the Mount Vernon Trail directly from the airport, cross the Potomac River on the 14th Street Bridge or Key Bridge (recommend the latter), and ride to the first campsite on the canal. No showers there, though. If you are looking for a hotel, the Key Bridge Marriott is a good option, right across the river from Georgetown and the Towpath. You can ride there on the MVT or get a cab/Uber. PM me if you are in the area and I’ll help out if available. I work in Alexandria near the airport. I may be taking the train to Chicago and Milwaukee after work on a Friday this summer, and riding a loop in Wisconsin and Michigan, but only for a week. Maybe we’ll cross paths.

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Old 02-22-20, 04:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat View Post
I can offer detailed advice from the Chicago-Milwaukee segment and north from there. You won't need paper maps for the Chicago-Milw area, though I can't speak for the DC area. As long as you have (backup) battery power...a GPS or smartphone will take you anywhere. I tend to dislike a smartphone with marginal battery backup as you may need the phone for emergencies.

Here's a good route from south of Milwaukee(Caledonia) to Point Beach State Park. It goes through several popular state parks that have camping(Harrington Beach State Park, Kohler-Andrae State Park, Point Beach State Park). Wisconsin has a policy that even if the (state park) campground is full, anyone arriving on foot or on a bike will have a place to camp. Most of this route is a dedicated, paved bike path. The road connectors are very low traffic rural roads. It goes through a number of nice towns.

https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29711099

There are other paths or decent road routes between Chicago and Caledonia..I have routes for those, or they can be worked out. There's a nice campground in Caledonia about 3 miles from the southern trailhead in the map linked above. If I'm around when you come through, I can ride/lead you through the city section of Milwaukee..it's all paved bike trail in parks, with a few twists and turns, to get you to the north side of the city...it's I nice ride..done it many times.

If you'd like to travel north of Point Beach State Park (into Door County Wisconsin) there's a nice rail-trail (Ahnapee State Trail) that will take you to Sturgeon Bay, WI. From there you can take rural roads up into Door County..very nice area with lots of towns, art galleries, wineries..etc.. and places to camp.
Thanks fishboat ... Is there enough in terms of enjoyable cycling/scenery to justify riding between Chicago and Milwaukee? ... we would be keen to get to rural/national park/semi-wilderness country farther north rather than linger around cities and built-up areas ... unless of course there are worthwhile experiences to be had.
Thanks for the RWGPS link. Several people have recommended a visit to Door County so your route definitely goes in a direction we would like to head.
Have you toured north of Green Bay? ... towards Lake Superior? ... looks pretty remote on Google Maps.
We would very much appreciate some local piloting assistance if you were available when we ramble through your part of the world. What would be the best way to contact you when we are in the area?
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Old 02-22-20, 04:59 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
The cheapest accommodation in DC is free - Swains Lock at Mile 16 on the C&O. You can ride the Mount Vernon Trail directly from the airport, cross the Potomac River on the 14th Street Bridge or Key Bridge (recommend the latter), and ride to the first campsite on the canal. No showers there, though. If you are looking for a hotel, the Key Bridge Marriott is a good option, right across the river from Georgetown and the Towpath. You can ride there on the MVT or get a cab/Uber. PM me if you are in the area and I’ll help out if available. I work in Alexandria near the airport. I may be taking the train to Chicago and Milwaukee after work on a Friday this summer, and riding a loop in Wisconsin and Michigan, but only for a week. Maybe we’ll cross paths.
Thanks Alan ... When you mention the airport I presume you mean Dulles (international) ... At this stage we plan to stay a couple of nights at the Marriot there (in the interests of keeping it simple, getting our bearings post jet lag, assembling bikes etc.). We would need to work out a cycle route from there, east to the city and then start heading north on the C and O canal path. We wouldn't need a hotel for a few nights after that so I suppose some of the canal campsites heading north would do the trick? Catching up for some local navigation assistance would be great if you were available. We would also be interested in any route suggestions you might have heading into Wisconsin from Chicago.
In terms of getting the most enjoyment from our available riding time, does it make sense to do the trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago by train?
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Old 02-22-20, 08:05 PM
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I have no idea if you are the type of travelers to stay in hostels or not, but there is an HI hostel in DC. I stayed there for three nights after I rode the GAP and C&O before getting on the train to come home. It was my first trip to DC so I wanted to stay for a few days and see the sights. Hostel is much more affordable than a hotel in DC. They had a small shed out back in a secured yard for people to lock up their bikes. But, some people might have a stronger preference for hotel. That hostel had a prohibition on alcohol on the premises, I only mention it because some HI hostels don't.

You might want to stay in DC for a day or two to try to change your internal time zones, if you stay there for a few days the Smithsonian is worth seeing. Several buildings, pick the topic that interests you the most. I am a geological engineer by training, so I spent two days in the natural history museum.

I camped in Cumberland across the street from the YMCA, but that was eight years ago, I have no idea if that is still an option, when I was there the fee was cheap and they had showers. I do not remember much else regarding where I stayed when I rode that trail. Cumberland is where the GAP and the C&O meet. It is easy to think of them as one bike trail, but they are two separate trails that meet at one point.

You would change trains at Chicago. If you were in Chicago for most of a day, a walk over to the Field Museum could be a good way to kill some time.

Most camping stores would sell butane canisters such as you would want for most MSR or Primus type stoves. If you are using an alcohol burner, maybe buying alcohol fuel at automotive fuel stations is the simplest thing to do. Often you can buy small bottles of alcohol as a fuel deicer, I think the Heet brand in a yellow bottle is Methanol.

July 4th is a USA holiday. This year July 4 is on a weekend, most campgrounds would be full and you can expect it to be a three day weekend. Thus, that weekend is one you might want to plan ahead for. In USA, generally you rent an entire campsite at campgrounds.

Wisconsin, in general terms you should assume that you will be at elevations that range from 200m to 500m in elevation. There are some hills, but none should be too tall.

You will want to have mosquito repellent. Some places will be buggy, some not so much.

I do not think you will find a bike shop in all of Wisconsin that has any Rohloff supplies. I think I previously suggested you bring a spare internal gear cable, just in case.

I do not know Milwaukee well enough to know what parts of town you should avoid, but it sounds like you are getting advice from someone that posted above.

I live 90 miles (~~140 km) west of Milwaukee, but have not been there in several years. I have actually done very little bike touring within Wisconsin, most of my touring has been elsewhere. So, I am a poor person to advise on touring opportunities.

Send an e-mail to Wisconsin DNR and ask them to mail you any information that someone that wants to camp at their parks and maybe ride on some of their bike trails would find useful.
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/

I have no idea if the DOT has any useful information or maps, but you should send them an e-mail and ask them to mail you what they have for bicycle touring in Wisconsin.
https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/trave...aps/state.aspx

If you get up to the UP (upper penninsula of Michigan) that is Michigan and not Wisconsin, contacting Michigan state park system ahead of time to find out where their parks are may be useful.

Generally the bike shops in Wisconsin would have 26 inch wheel tubes and tires, but the tires are likely to be mountain bike tires. Good 26 inch tires for pavement riding are less likely to be found in most bike shops.

It should be pretty easy to buy just about anything you need to eat at most grocery stores. Almost all grocery stores will take credit cards, but you might want to carry some cash too. Some of the really small stores you might fihd in small towns may prefer cash to avoid the fees from credit card companies.

When I have gone touring outside of USA, I never bothered to get a sim card, instead I always used my phone was a wifi device. Sim card, I have no good suggestions - but you will find many of the cell companies here use a system that does not involve using a sim card, thus some phone companies would not be an option for you. I think that generally sim card cell phone companies include AT&T and T Mobil. You might want to make sure your phones work on the right frequencies here. North America might be different than you are used to.
https://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html

If you are wondering about weather conditions here, I live in Madison, this website has good data on average temperatures, average precipitation, etc. You can type in any community that has an airport and get local information on that area.
https://weatherspark.com/y/12796/Ave...tes-Year-Round

For daily forecasts, the national weather service has pretty good forecasts, I usually just use that instead of some of the other apps out there. Type in a city for forecast, Wisconsin abreviation is WI. Thus, if you wanted forecast at Milwaukee, type in Milwaukee, WI in the upper left corner.
https://www.weather.gov/

If for example you were on the Milwaukee forecast page, down on that page you would find a link for hourly forecast page, click on that and you get this.
https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClic...Type=graphical

I like that hourly forecast page because it gives very accurate wind direction and speed information (miles per hour). And temp of course is F, not C.

If I think of any more info, I will let you know.
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Old 02-22-20, 09:44 PM
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Originally Posted by gregmacc View Post
Thanks Alan ... When you mention the airport I presume you mean Dulles (international) ... At this stage we plan to stay a couple of nights at the Marriot there (in the interests of keeping it simple, getting our bearings post jet lag, assembling bikes etc.). We would need to work out a cycle route from there, east to the city and then start heading north on the C and O canal path. We wouldn't need a hotel for a few nights after that so I suppose some of the canal campsites heading north would do the trick? Catching up for some local navigation assistance would be great if you were available. We would also be interested in any route suggestions you might have heading into Wisconsin from Chicago.
In terms of getting the most enjoyment from our available riding time, does it make sense to do the trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago by train?
I was assuming you would land somewhere in the US, like LAX, clear immigration and customs, and take a connecting domestic flight to your final destination. Therefore, assumed you would fly into National (DCA), which is the closest airport to downtown DC. Dulles (IAD) is quite a ways out of town. You could actually ride into DC on the W&OD Trail from Dulles and Custis Trail to Key Bridge, but it’s a long way. The Silver Line of the DC Metrorail system will not be extended to Dulles until 2021. Another option, if you want to cut a few miles off your trip, would be to ride from Dulles to Whites Ferry to cross the Potomac, and get on the towpath there at Mile 35. But you’ll miss a lot in the first 35 miles, such as Great Falls. My recommendation, if you want to start in DC, is to fly into DCA. That way you will be in town for your initial jet lag adjustment period. Or fly into Dulles and find a way to get into town from there. If you do happen to stay near Dulles, the Air & Space Museum there is quite impressive. Probably the best of the Smithsonian museums in the region, and its free.

I don’t think the ride from Pittsburgh to Chicago or Milwaukee is particularly interesting, so I would skip that if time is an issue. I’ve been to Chicago and it’s a great city to bike around, but have never ridden to Milwaukee or anywhere else around there. I plan to take the connecting train to Milwaukee from Chicago in the interest of saving time, but the ride doesn’t look too bad.

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Old 02-22-20, 10:32 PM
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Also wanted to mention a good resource Bike Washington (has a decent C&O app you can download), on the many bike trails in the DC area. And one more thing . . . I highly recommend visiting the Antietam Battlefield near Mile 70 on the Towpath in Sharpsburg, Maryland. Well worth spending several hours touring the Civil War battlefield.

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Old 02-23-20, 06:07 AM
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Not to highjack this thread, but fishboat do you have suggestions on the best route from Genoa City (at the border of Illinois-Wisconsin) up to Milwaukee to pick up that route you posted upthread? I'm planning to ride from the western suburbs up to Elkhart Lake in May. I'm good with the route to Genoa City as I've ridden all of it as parts of other rides that I've done. But the bike path ends at the state line and I'm trying to figure out the best and safest route to Milwaukee. Thanks in advance!

P.S. I'm also fine with getting from Sheboygan to Elkhart Lake as I ride in that area every May when we go on vacation to Elkhart Lake.
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Old 02-23-20, 06:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post

I have no idea if the DOT has any useful information or maps, but you should send them an e-mail and ask them to mail you what they have for bicycle touring in Wisconsin.
https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/trave...aps/state.aspx

If you get up to the UP (upper penninsula of Michigan) that is Michigan and not Wisconsin, contacting Michigan state park system ahead of time to find out where their parks are may be useful.
I can offer some info here:

With respect to the WI DOT (bicycling) maps, see the following link. It breaks up the state of Wisconsin into county maps. The maps themselves indicate traffic volume on roads, whether a bike lane exists..etc.. I've found them helpful when figuring out routes.
https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/trave...ps/county.aspx

With respect to Michigan, they have very useful state park, county park, state forest, national forest campgrounds and bicycle routes.......all rolled up into (free download online or $5 for paper) regional maps, here:
https://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0,4616...6053--,00.html
I've found them to be very useful maps.

Two other research tools I use are
https://www.traillink.com/viewnationalmap/
Traillink shows mainly Rail-to-Trails routes, although other trails are illustrated too. Membership(map access) is free. If you donate you can download GPX routes. You can look at maps of descriptions of the trail with reviews by people that have ridden the trail. On the View Map page, if you click on the Legend link on the upper left, you can click to see other routes close to the specific one you're viewing.

https://ridewithgps.com/find
Ride with GPS is also free (and has additional services for a paid membership) and allows searching for routes people have uploaded within X miles of any town/city you enter. If/when you find a route you like you can copy it to your own profile or you can develop your own route(s). If you copy a route from someone else I find it better to keep the copy private to your use only(you'll see the option when you copy a route) as too many of the same routes, with different names, confuses future searches by people. You can also export GPX files(or other formats) of routes for use in other devices or home-computer use.

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Old 02-23-20, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by gregmacc View Post
Thanks Alan ... When you mention the airport I presume you mean Dulles (international) ... At this stage we plan to stay a couple of nights at the Marriot there (in the interests of keeping it simple, getting our bearings post jet lag, assembling bikes etc.). We would need to work out a cycle route from there, east to the city and then start heading north on the C and O canal path. We wouldn't need a hotel for a few nights after that so I suppose some of the canal campsites heading north would do the trick? Catching up for some local navigation assistance would be great if you were available. We would also be interested in any route suggestions you might have heading into Wisconsin from Chicago.
In terms of getting the most enjoyment from our available riding time, does it make sense to do the trip from Pittsburgh to Chicago by train?
While I agree with Alan that it would be preferable to arrive in the Washington area at DCA airport versus IAD (Dulles), there are few nonstop flights from LAX or SFO (your most likely ports of entry if coming from Australia) to DCA. If you are arriving at Dulles, I would dissuade you from staying at the Marriott there because you're far from everything. It's about a 45 km ride (mostly on the W&OD bike trail) from IAD to Washington. DCA is only about 4 or 5 km from Washington. If you put your bikes together and want to get into the city but don't want to bike that distance, you can ride to the nearest Metro station at present, which is Wiehle-Reston East station, about 14 km from Dulles airport.

Be aware that the campgrounds along the C&O Canal are primitive campgrounds, with nothing available but a place to pitch a tent, and water available typically with a pump. No showers or any other services. The first few kilometers when beginning on the C&O Canal can be ridden on the paved and parallel Capital Crescent Trail. When you get to Fletcher's Cove (there's a footbridge across the canal), you need to cross onto the C&O Canal towpath because the 2 trails will soon diverge. Much further west is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, 22.5 miles/36km long paved trail parallel to the towpath. After riding on the bumpy and/or muddy towpath, this trail is a nice respite.

Western Maryland Rail Trail - Mid-Atlantic Rail Trail

Yes, I would take the train from Pittsburgh to Chicago.
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Old 02-23-20, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by GadgetGirlIL View Post
Not to highjack this thread, but fishboat do you have suggestions on the best route from Genoa City (at the border of Illinois-Wisconsin) up to Milwaukee to pick up that route you posted upthread? I'm planning to ride from the western suburbs up to Elkhart Lake in May. I'm good with the route to Genoa City as I've ridden all of it as parts of other rides that I've done. But the bike path ends at the state line and I'm trying to figure out the best and safest route to Milwaukee. Thanks in advance!

P.S. I'm also fine with getting from Sheboygan to Elkhart Lake as I ride in that area every May when we go on vacation to Elkhart Lake.
Sure..there's some options, depending on how you'd like go. Much/most of the ride could be on mixed gravel(rail trail type) and pavement dedicated MUPs. I'll contact you via PM so as not to mess up this thread.

OP..gregmacc..I haven't forgotten your questions..There are some nice rides between Chicago and Caledonia. I haven't ridden south of Illinois Beach State Park, but from the state park to the Caledonia trailhead is about 40 miles and nice (very flat) ride. Lots of turns and side-streets though, along with some bike trails. Goes through Kenosha and Racine..both nice cities on Lake Michigan. I may have some contacts farther south..I'll look into it.

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Old 02-23-20, 09:04 AM
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-You will want fenders/mudflaps. The C&O path is very muddy especially in June. After Cumberland, the GAP surface is excellent in comparison. But even after the C&O, it often rains that time of year in Pennsylvania/Wisconsin/Michigan. A weather radar app on phone is handy. Wisconsin has taverns everywhere to hold up in during storms.

-Amtrak is very slowly improving but can be a pain with bicycles. The train service in US is very poor in comparison to Europe, the train (only one 1/day?) often runs much later than stated. If there is no "roll-on" service between Pittsburgh/Milwaukee, you will need to box bikes at Pittsburgh/Milwaukee. As an option, you may consider renting a small truck one-way. UHaul is everywhere and the price for 2 people is comparable to train.

-Appears to be good bike way north from Milwaukee (not biked it). We have biked from Sheboygan (Wisconsin) to points north. As a suggestion, you could bike (we have) along the Lake Michigan shoreline the entire route...Sheboygan, around Door county peninsula, Green Bay, north to Escanaba (Michigan), east to St. Ignace, south to Muskegan and take ferry back to Milwaukee. Roughly 3 weeks. Try to stay on back roads with the word "lake" and/or "shore". The Delorme paper atlases are great, but not required if have smartphone.
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Old 02-23-20, 09:15 AM
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I don't have any specific advice for you but, if you'd like to have an emergency contact, feel free to PM me. I live along the C&O in Brunswick, MD and would be happy to help if you have issues in this region.
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Old 02-23-20, 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
-You will want fenders/mudflaps. The C&O path is very muddy especially in June. After Cumberland, the GAP surface is excellent in comparison. But even after the C&O, it often rains that time of year in Pennsylvania/Wisconsin/Michigan. A weather radar app on phone is handy. Wisconsin has taverns everywhere to hold up in during storms.

-Amtrak is very slowly improving but can be a pain with bicycles. The train service in US is very poor in comparison to Europe, the train (only one 1/day?) often runs much later than stated. If there is no "roll-on" service between Pittsburgh/Milwaukee, you will need to box bikes at Pittsburgh/Milwaukee. As an option, you may consider renting a small truck one-way. UHaul is everywhere and the price for 2 people is comparable to train.

-Appears to be good bike way north from Milwaukee (not biked it). We have biked from Sheboygan (Wisconsin) to points north. As a suggestion, you could bike (we have) along the Lake Michigan shoreline the entire route...Sheboygan, around Door county peninsula, Green Bay, north to Escanaba (Michigan), east to St. Ignace, south to Muskegan and take ferry back to Milwaukee. Roughly 3 weeks. Try to stay on back roads with the word "lake" and/or "shore". The Delorme paper atlases are great, but not required if have smartphone.
Just to add to this and clarify, I have ridden the C&O every year for the past 15 years. There have been significant improvements to the surface in recent years, and they are continually working on it. Many of the worst mud areas have been resurfaced, but there are still some areas that they haven’t gotten to yet, so using fenders is a good recommendation. It rains throughout the year in this area, and June is no exception, but to say it “is very muddy especially in June” is incorrect. Up to date information on closures and detours can be found here https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

With regard to Amtrak from DC to Pittsburgh, it shares the line with freight trains, so there can be unpredictable delays, but in my experience in recent years, it is reasonably close to being on time. Nothing to be really concerned with. The Chicago to Milwaukee train allows bikes on board.
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Old 02-23-20, 01:22 PM
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It's wonderful to hear how you're coming to Lake Michigan for the latter part of your trip. I really think it's one of the best places to tour. And the best part, I believe, is Door County.

To get there from Point Beach, you'll follow the marked bike route north. Eventually it'll take you to where there's a closed entrance to a shooting range, where you'll have to take a left, up the hill, past the nuclear power plant and take a right into the main road for a few miles to traverse the plant. The road has a shoulder, but one could take a parallel farm road instead.

After like six miles you can get back on Lakeshore and hug the water. Its completely undeveloped. No traffic with historic farms affording nice views. Lakeshore ends at Kewaunee which is a neat town with a useful grocery store, Piggly Wiggly. You can either take a winding, limestone trail to Algoma, or head back to the lake and go to Algoma that way. Once there. you have a difficult choice: whether to take the trail (or continue on it), or stay by the lake on the road to Sturgeon Bay. Both are great. You'll be on the water with nobody around if you take the county trunks S to U (they have weird letter names) just north of Algoma, or you can be on the woods if you chose the trail. There's an incredible amount of birds on the trail; however. the road was so much more quiet than I thought it would be. Plus you get great views of the lake and go by Sturgeon Bay lighthouse. You can't go wrong with either.

Once you get to Sturgeon Bay, you cross the bridge, stay on the bike trail, and in like half a mile on the right on right, on Michigan Rd., there's a neat heritage museum ( old schoolhouse, workshop, exc.) with restrooms and picnic tables. From there I'd recommend taking the scenic bike route, TT, towards Whitefish Beach. A trail takes you from from there to Cave Point, and once there, you take the County trunks whichever way. That's how you get around on Door County by bike, you stick to the lettered roads.

Don't miss Door Bluff County Park also at the north end. There a insane trail on the bluff that has the oldest trees in the region. The red and white cedar roots are embedded in the ancient cliffs. It is most definitely worth a detour. Along the way north, there's numerous places to go and things to see, especially Peninsula State Park, because tons of bike trails, and a huge campground.

When I went last time, I fell in love with Washington Island. It's a phenomenal place to tour because it had more than 100 miles of paved roads and very few cars. There's another farm museum (there's several in Door Co.) just near the ferry worth stopping for. I loved feeding the goats! The whole island is a delight! It also had one of the largest lavender farms in the United States. That is a must see. The ferry ride is cheap and really beautiful as it croses Death's Door passage.

Bay Shore Drive from Egg Harbor is a great way to make your way south to Sturgeon Bay. From there to Green Bay isn't too bad because there's an unused road that runs next to highway 57 which replaced it, so it's a de facto bike trail.

After Green Bay, going north along the lake its still quiet and there's a series of marshlands. It stays quiet until Escanaba, Michigan,when you hit Route 2 east. This is a busy road, but it has a massive shoulder and is considered a federal bike route.

Soon you'll be in St Ignace where you can take the ferry to the incomparable Mackinac Island, then take the ferry to Mackinac city (you can also pay five bucks and get driven over the bridge with your bikes. To do this, you have to cut through the state park and push your bike for like a hundred yards on a hiking trail. Ask at the ranger station).

Once in the lower peninsula, there's a limestone trail to take you towards Charlevoix. One could also take a right on Gill Rd. off the trail, take a left at the lake to see the Tunnel of Trees. After Charlevoix, you'll want to head towards Traverse city, then onto Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes. After that is the famous M-22. Keep going south, and you can catch a ferry back across the lake either at Ludington or Muskegon.

If you're interested in heading to Lake Superior, I have useful info about the route. Lots of waterfalls and Pictures Rocks Lakeshore make it so worth it to be sure. You could ride the shore until Grand Marais, go south on Rt.77 which connects to Route 2. Route 28 looks tempting on the map, but is known as the "Seney Stretch". I recommend avoiding this at all costs. It has no shoulder and is busy with 75+ mph traffic.

Hope this helps

Last edited by Lanesplitter; 02-23-20 at 01:54 PM.
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Old 02-23-20, 09:54 PM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I was assuming you would land somewhere in the US, like LAX, clear immigration and customs, and take a connecting domestic flight to your final destination. Therefore, assumed you would fly into National (DCA), which is the closest airport to downtown DC. Dulles (IAD) is quite a ways out of town. You could actually ride into DC on the W&OD Trail from Dulles and Custis Trail to Key Bridge, but it’s a long way. The Silver Line of the DC Metrorail system will not be extended to Dulles until 2021. Another option, if you want to cut a few miles off your trip, would be to ride from Dulles to Whites Ferry to cross the Potomac, and get on the towpath there at Mile 35. But you’ll miss a lot in the first 35 miles, such as Great Falls. My recommendation, if you want to start in DC, is to fly into DCA. That way you will be in town for your initial jet lag adjustment period. Or fly into Dulles and find a way to get into town from there. If you do happen to stay near Dulles, the Air & Space Museum there is quite impressive. Probably the best of the Smithsonian museums in the region, and its free.

I don’t think the ride from Pittsburgh to Chicago or Milwaukee is particularly interesting, so I would skip that if time is an issue. I’ve been to Chicago and it’s a great city to bike around, but have never ridden to Milwaukee or anywhere else around there. I plan to take the connecting train to Milwaukee from Chicago in the interest of saving time, but the ride doesn’t look too bad.
We have only briefly looked at flights (Qantas) ... layover in Dallas but then to Dulles ... but thanks for the heads-up on DCA as the better option.
You have confirmed the opinions of others' regarding Pittsburgh to Chicago. We are not big fans of big cities but considering the biker friendly angle would definitely have to check out Chicago.
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Old 02-23-20, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have no idea if you are the type of travelers to stay in hostels or not, but there is an HI hostel in DC. I stayed there for three nights after I rode the GAP and C&O before getting on the train to come home. It was my first trip to DC so I wanted to stay for a few days and see the sights. Hostel is much more affordable than a hotel in DC. They had a small shed out back in a secured yard for people to lock up their bikes. But, some people might have a stronger preference for hotel. That hostel had a prohibition on alcohol on the premises, I only mention it because some HI hostels don't.

You might want to stay in DC for a day or two to try to change your internal time zones, if you stay there for a few days the Smithsonian is worth seeing. Several buildings, pick the topic that interests you the most. I am a geological engineer by training, so I spent two days in the natural history museum.

I camped in Cumberland across the street from the YMCA, but that was eight years ago, I have no idea if that is still an option, when I was there the fee was cheap and they had showers. I do not remember much else regarding where I stayed when I rode that trail. Cumberland is where the GAP and the C&O meet. It is easy to think of them as one bike trail, but they are two separate trails that meet at one point.

You would change trains at Chicago. If you were in Chicago for most of a day, a walk over to the Field Museum could be a good way to kill some time.

Most camping stores would sell butane canisters such as you would want for most MSR or Primus type stoves. If you are using an alcohol burner, maybe buying alcohol fuel at automotive fuel stations is the simplest thing to do. Often you can buy small bottles of alcohol as a fuel deicer, I think the Heet brand in a yellow bottle is Methanol.

July 4th is a USA holiday. This year July 4 is on a weekend, most campgrounds would be full and you can expect it to be a three day weekend. Thus, that weekend is one you might want to plan ahead for. In USA, generally you rent an entire campsite at campgrounds.

Wisconsin, in general terms you should assume that you will be at elevations that range from 200m to 500m in elevation. There are some hills, but none should be too tall.

You will want to have mosquito repellent. Some places will be buggy, some not so much.

I do not think you will find a bike shop in all of Wisconsin that has any Rohloff supplies. I think I previously suggested you bring a spare internal gear cable, just in case.

I do not know Milwaukee well enough to know what parts of town you should avoid, but it sounds like you are getting advice from someone that posted above.

I live 90 miles (~~140 km) west of Milwaukee, but have not been there in several years. I have actually done very little bike touring within Wisconsin, most of my touring has been elsewhere. So, I am a poor person to advise on touring opportunities.

Send an e-mail to Wisconsin DNR and ask them to mail you any information that someone that wants to camp at their parks and maybe ride on some of their bike trails would find useful.
https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/

I have no idea if the DOT has any useful information or maps, but you should send them an e-mail and ask them to mail you what they have for bicycle touring in Wisconsin.
https://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/trave...aps/state.aspx

If you get up to the UP (upper penninsula of Michigan) that is Michigan and not Wisconsin, contacting Michigan state park system ahead of time to find out where their parks are may be useful.

Generally the bike shops in Wisconsin would have 26 inch wheel tubes and tires, but the tires are likely to be mountain bike tires. Good 26 inch tires for pavement riding are less likely to be found in most bike shops.

It should be pretty easy to buy just about anything you need to eat at most grocery stores. Almost all grocery stores will take credit cards, but you might want to carry some cash too. Some of the really small stores you might fihd in small towns may prefer cash to avoid the fees from credit card companies.

When I have gone touring outside of USA, I never bothered to get a sim card, instead I always used my phone was a wifi device. Sim card, I have no good suggestions - but you will find many of the cell companies here use a system that does not involve using a sim card, thus some phone companies would not be an option for you. I think that generally sim card cell phone companies include AT&T and T Mobil. You might want to make sure your phones work on the right frequencies here. North America might be different than you are used to.
https://www.worldtimezone.com/gsm.html

If you are wondering about weather conditions here, I live in Madison, this website has good data on average temperatures, average precipitation, etc. You can type in any community that has an airport and get local information on that area.
https://weatherspark.com/y/12796/Ave...tes-Year-Round

For daily forecasts, the national weather service has pretty good forecasts, I usually just use that instead of some of the other apps out there. Type in a city for forecast, Wisconsin abreviation is WI. Thus, if you wanted forecast at Milwaukee, type in Milwaukee, WI in the upper left corner.
https://www.weather.gov/

If for example you were on the Milwaukee forecast page, down on that page you would find a link for hourly forecast page, click on that and you get this.
https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClic...Type=graphical

I like that hourly forecast page because it gives very accurate wind direction and speed information (miles per hour). And temp of course is F, not C.

If I think of any more info, I will let you know.
So much information here Tourist ... my head is spinning ... I'll need to mull over this for several hours ... thanks so much for going to the trouble.
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Old 02-24-20, 05:16 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by axolotl View Post
While I agree with Alan that it would be preferable to arrive in the Washington area at DCA airport versus IAD (Dulles), there are few nonstop flights from LAX or SFO (your most likely ports of entry if coming from Australia) to DCA. If you are arriving at Dulles, I would dissuade you from staying at the Marriott there because you're far from everything. It's about a 45 km ride (mostly on the W&OD bike trail) from IAD to Washington. DCA is only about 4 or 5 km from Washington. If you put your bikes together and want to get into the city but don't want to bike that distance, you can ride to the nearest Metro station at present, which is Wiehle-Reston East station, about 14 km from Dulles airport.

Be aware that the campgrounds along the C&O Canal are primitive campgrounds, with nothing available but a place to pitch a tent, and water available typically with a pump. No showers or any other services. The first few kilometers when beginning on the C&O Canal can be ridden on the paved and parallel Capital Crescent Trail. When you get to Fletcher's Cove (there's a footbridge across the canal), you need to cross onto the C&O Canal towpath because the 2 trails will soon diverge. Much further west is the Western Maryland Rail Trail, 22.5 miles/36km long paved trail parallel to the towpath. After riding on the bumpy and/or muddy towpath, this trail is a nice respite.

Western Maryland Rail Trail - Mid-Atlantic Rail Trail

Yes, I would take the train from Pittsburgh to Chicago.
Thanks Axolotl ... Riding 14km from Dulles to Wiehle-Reston East seems reasonable ... I presume loaded touring bikes are OK on the metro?
Looks like we will be training from Pittsburgh to Chicago.
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Old 02-24-20, 05:33 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by IPassGas View Post
-You will want fenders/mudflaps. The C&O path is very muddy especially in June. After Cumberland, the GAP surface is excellent in comparison. But even after the C&O, it often rains that time of year in Pennsylvania/Wisconsin/Michigan. A weather radar app on phone is handy. Wisconsin has taverns everywhere to hold up in during storms.

-Amtrak is very slowly improving but can be a pain with bicycles. The train service in US is very poor in comparison to Europe, the train (only one 1/day?) often runs much later than stated. If there is no "roll-on" service between Pittsburgh/Milwaukee, you will need to box bikes at Pittsburgh/Milwaukee. As an option, you may consider renting a small truck one-way. UHaul is everywhere and the price for 2 people is comparable to train.

-Appears to be good bike way north from Milwaukee (not biked it). We have biked from Sheboygan (Wisconsin) to points north. As a suggestion, you could bike (we have) along the Lake Michigan shoreline the entire route...Sheboygan, around Door county peninsula, Green Bay, north to Escanaba (Michigan), east to St. Ignace, south to Muskegan and take ferry back to Milwaukee. Roughly 3 weeks. Try to stay on back roads with the word "lake" and/or "shore". The Delorme paper atlases are great, but not required if have smartphone.
Thanks IpassGas ... yes we had considered driving/hiring a vehicle as an option for challenging/boring/bad weather sections. And boxing/bagging the bikes during the trip is something we won't be doing ... well, barring major disasters anyway. We've ridden on the right side of the road in Europe but never driven ... I'm keen for it. Wendy, not so much.
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Old 02-24-20, 05:36 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Marylander View Post
I don't have any specific advice for you but, if you'd like to have an emergency contact, feel free to PM me. I live along the C&O in Brunswick, MD and would be happy to help if you have issues in this region.
Thanks Marylander ... that would be great.
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Old 02-24-20, 05:51 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Just to add to this and clarify, I have ridden the C&O every year for the past 15 years. There have been significant improvements to the surface in recent years, and they are continually working on it. Many of the worst mud areas have been resurfaced, but there are still some areas that they haven’t gotten to yet, so using fenders is a good recommendation. It rains throughout the year in this area, and June is no exception, but to say it “is very muddy especially in June” is incorrect. Up to date information on closures and detours can be found here https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

With regard to Amtrak from DC to Pittsburgh, it shares the line with freight trains, so there can be unpredictable delays, but in my experience in recent years, it is reasonably close to being on time. Nothing to be really concerned with. The Chicago to Milwaukee train allows bikes on board.
Thanks for responding again Alan ... I think we'll just take our chances without fenders. We've probably been lucky over the years and have mostly avoided bad weather. We were caught out once on a 2 week dirt road trip around Kangaroo Island when we were using fenders for the first time. The roads were wet for several days and the clay base mud wedged like sticky glue to all parts of our bikes. They were rendered unrideable on several occasions requiring lengthy de-glugging sessions. The fenders just scooped-up the clay. We eventually removed them and made much better progress ... "never again" ...
We live in the driest state on the driest continent on earth ... fenders just aren't generally necessary locally so we've learnt to get by without them. Also ... we use bike bags when travelling OS ... https://www.groundeffect.co.nz/colle...mpact-bike-bag . I'm pretty sure fenders would get badly beaten up in transit.

Last edited by gregmacc; 02-24-20 at 06:02 AM.
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Old 02-24-20, 06:12 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Lanesplitter View Post
It's wonderful to hear how you're coming to Lake Michigan for the latter part of your trip. I really think it's one of the best places to tour. And the best part, I believe, is Door County.

To get there from Point Beach, you'll follow the marked bike route north. Eventually it'll take you to where there's a closed entrance to a shooting range, where you'll have to take a left, up the hill, past the nuclear power plant and take a right into the main road for a few miles to traverse the plant. The road has a shoulder, but one could take a parallel farm road instead.

After like six miles you can get back on Lakeshore and hug the water. Its completely undeveloped. No traffic with historic farms affording nice views. Lakeshore ends at Kewaunee which is a neat town with a useful grocery store, Piggly Wiggly. You can either take a winding, limestone trail to Algoma, or head back to the lake and go to Algoma that way. Once there. you have a difficult choice: whether to take the trail (or continue on it), or stay by the lake on the road to Sturgeon Bay. Both are great. You'll be on the water with nobody around if you take the county trunks S to U (they have weird letter names) just north of Algoma, or you can be on the woods if you chose the trail. There's an incredible amount of birds on the trail; however. the road was so much more quiet than I thought it would be. Plus you get great views of the lake and go by Sturgeon Bay lighthouse. You can't go wrong with either.

Once you get to Sturgeon Bay, you cross the bridge, stay on the bike trail, and in like half a mile on the right on right, on Michigan Rd., there's a neat heritage museum ( old schoolhouse, workshop, exc.) with restrooms and picnic tables. From there I'd recommend taking the scenic bike route, TT, towards Whitefish Beach. A trail takes you from from there to Cave Point, and once there, you take the County trunks whichever way. That's how you get around on Door County by bike, you stick to the lettered roads.

Don't miss Door Bluff County Park also at the north end. There a insane trail on the bluff that has the oldest trees in the region. The red and white cedar roots are embedded in the ancient cliffs. It is most definitely worth a detour. Along the way north, there's numerous places to go and things to see, especially Peninsula State Park, because tons of bike trails, and a huge campground.

When I went last time, I fell in love with Washington Island. It's a phenomenal place to tour because it had more than 100 miles of paved roads and very few cars. There's another farm museum (there's several in Door Co.) just near the ferry worth stopping for. I loved feeding the goats! The whole island is a delight! It also had one of the largest lavender farms in the United States. That is a must see. The ferry ride is cheap and really beautiful as it croses Death's Door passage.

Bay Shore Drive from Egg Harbor is a great way to make your way south to Sturgeon Bay. From there to Green Bay isn't too bad because there's an unused road that runs next to highway 57 which replaced it, so it's a de facto bike trail.

After Green Bay, going north along the lake its still quiet and there's a series of marshlands. It stays quiet until Escanaba, Michigan,when you hit Route 2 east. This is a busy road, but it has a massive shoulder and is considered a federal bike route.

Soon you'll be in St Ignace where you can take the ferry to the incomparable Mackinac Island, then take the ferry to Mackinac city (you can also pay five bucks and get driven over the bridge with your bikes. To do this, you have to cut through the state park and push your bike for like a hundred yards on a hiking trail. Ask at the ranger station).

Once in the lower peninsula, there's a limestone trail to take you towards Charlevoix. One could also take a right on Gill Rd. off the trail, take a left at the lake to see the Tunnel of Trees. After Charlevoix, you'll want to head towards Traverse city, then onto Glen Arbor and Sleeping Bear Dunes. After that is the famous M-22. Keep going south, and you can catch a ferry back across the lake either at Ludington or Muskegon.

If you're interested in heading to Lake Superior, I have useful info about the route. Lots of waterfalls and Pictures Rocks Lakeshore make it so worth it to be sure. You could ride the shore until Grand Marais, go south on Rt.77 which connects to Route 2. Route 28 looks tempting on the map, but is known as the "Seney Stretch". I recommend avoiding this at all costs. It has no shoulder and is busy with 75+ mph traffic.

Hope this helps
This all sounds fantastic Lanesplitter ... Door county sounds like it could be the real highlight of our trip ... your descriptions are going straight into my pre trip research notes.
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Old 02-24-20, 08:36 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by gregmacc View Post
Thanks Axolotl ... Riding 14km from Dulles to Wiehle-Reston East seems reasonable ... I presume loaded touring bikes are OK on the metro?
Looks like we will be training from Pittsburgh to Chicago.
Yes, you can take bikes on Metro. They got rid of the rushhour restrictions on taking bikes on Metro. Each of you will need to buy a reusable "SmarTrip" card for $2, plus whatever value you'll need for your rides. The machines take credit cards & cash. The trip price varies based on trip length and time of day. It's not cheap. You need your SmarTrip card to enter a station, as well as to exit a station. Bicyclists are supposed to use the elevators instead of escalators. Every station has elevators (though they're not always working). Each rail car has 3 sets of doors. Bicycles are supposed to use the doors on either end of the car, not the middle set of doors. Maximum of 2 bikes at each end of the rail car. There is minimal enforcement of rules on the Metro system, so don't worry too much about it. Unless you're arriving at Dulles around dawn, there's unlikely to be many passengers in the direction you'd be traveling on Metro.
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Old 02-24-20, 12:56 PM
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Just did an up and back on the GAP last September.

The night before I started riding I camped at the YMCA. Decent enough, but you are somewhat exposed to the public. But not much car traffic at night. You are also not supposed to set up camp until after 6 or so in case there is an event. Registration includes use of the Y's bathrooms and showers and, IIRC, the pool.

First night at Husky Haven Campground in Rockwood. There are porta-potties at the actual campground, but the fee entitles you to use the showers and bathrooms at the bunkhouse a short distance away in town. They also have jugs of water to bring back to the site. No real grocery store in town so unless you carry stuff from somewhere else you'll probably want to eat out. Bring ear plugs.

Second night I stayed at the trailside park in Connellsville. No showers, but you can buy a shower from the relatively new hotel that you will pass about .5 miles before the camping area, which area has shelters. From the camping area you can see the back of the good grocery store. Or you can keep going about 3 or 4 miles more to the KOA campground along the trail. It has showers and a pool.

Third night I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites on 10th St. in Pittsburgh. Nice room and relatively inexpensive. Easy to reach from the Three Rivers Heritage Trail on the south side of the river.

Fourth night I camped at the new place in W. Newton. Really nice with nice showers and bathrooms.

Fifth night I camped at the federal place in Confluence. Meh. Inexpensive, and they have an area reserved for cyclists. Big pain in the butt is that you cannot register and pay at the place. You have to call the reservation service and pay that way. And it's the only federal campground I have ever stayed in that does not allow adult beverages.

Sixth night I spent a the Trail Inn in Frostburg. I would avoid camping there, if only because the camping area is hard to get to and not that well maintained, but the hostel-like rooms are decent.

Make train reservations early, especially if travelling with bikes. There are only so many roll-on bike spaces.
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