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Bike path tour suggestions wanted

Old 07-10-23, 05:19 AM
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Bike path tour suggestions wanted

Hi, I am looking for suggestions on a bike tour that is almost 100 per cent on a mostly flat bike path and can find sleeping accommodations every 20 miles, the tour will be for 4 days. My 5 year old granddaughter is going on this ride and 20 miles will take her about 4 to 5 hours and I want to give her some down time to enjoy a playground, get an ice cream and other fun things along the way. We would like to stay in a campground( but not against motels and such if that is our only option) and here is where the problem arises. We need to have regular toilets not the vault or pit toilets. Her dad says she doesn't do well with the other types of toilets. The area can be anywhere that is in the upper New York state area or Pennsylvania area out to Maryland and Eastern Ohio. Also I had looked at the pine creek trail in Pa and that won't do my son says because of the toilet issue. Any ideas for this tour?

Thank-you for your helpful suggestion!
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Old 07-10-23, 05:55 AM
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The Great Allegheny Passage Trail is perfect for you. I've done that one in all kinds of variations, many options.

The Erie Canal Trail is another one that comes to mind - that has a yearly big supported ride that I think is going on right now. I've only done segments of that one.

The Ohio to Erie trail from Cleveland to Cincinnati has fewer options, I've done much of it, and there is a bit of road riding but on mostly very low traffic roads.

20 miles a day might be ambitious for a 5 year old if she is pedaling her own bike vs. in a trailer or on a third wheel kinda bike that we used when my daughter was that age.

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Old 07-10-23, 03:41 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra
Thank-you for your helpful suggestion!
Top suggestion for touring with a five-year-old: Burley Piccolo*.



A trailer bike keeps you right together. It prevents the child from darting/wobbling out in front of someone or running off the edge of the path. It keeps the child from 'failing to brake'. If you need to pick up the pace (to beat a thunderstorm or make a closing time), you can. The child in a 'stoker' position gets to observe everything, versus just the spot of pavement immediately in front of the bike. Child gets tired? They can coast.

There are a number of trailer bike manufacturers. I consider the Piccolo the best of them.


Suggest a star tour rather than a linear tour: establish a 'headquarters' in a city (a city like Dayton Ohio or Washington DC). This could be a motel or a campground (one with your all-important toilet). Each morning you ride out a different path. Afternoons are park playgrounds or kid-friendly museums (or naps).

Green lines are paths:




Hmm. Closer to your initial parameters, how about a section of the Route Verte? (Note: foreign country.)




*Burley used to sell a really cool Piccolo accessory, the Piccolo Plus kit, which turned the trailer bike into a stand-alone. They can still be found used.


Last edited by tcs; 07-11-23 at 09:43 AM.
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Old 07-10-23, 03:58 PM
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Question on a point A to B tour is how to get back to the start. GAP has shuttle services, not sure of the Erie Canal trail.

And for what it’s worth, 4 consecutive days of 20-25 miles might be a big challenge for a 5 year old, thus I like the idea of a bunch of multiple days biking around DC or something equiv. as if the kid isn’t up to day 3 or 4 no big deal, do something else.
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Old 07-10-23, 04:36 PM
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Just to give you confidence about your trip. This is a post from a friend of mine
Kids are capable of doing amazing things, if only given the opportunity.

"The plan was for me to bike from Shorewood, WI to Madison, WI with three grandkids, ages 8,6 and barely 5. 90+ miles. But then, a small complication: our 3 yo grandson wanted to join the convoy on his 14" two wheeler. I didn't have the heart to refuse his attempt, especially since almost all of the route was off-road, and he'd been riding for about a year, having already done at least one 20+ miler this summer..

The 3 yo finally cashed it between mile 59-60 on day 2, due to emotional fatigue and nap deprivation, and also being tired of all the gravel on the Glacial Drumlin Trail.

The other three grandkids made it all the way, 92 miles or so.

But making it all the way - the ostensible goal - was less important than the other lessons they learned: 1) Supporting each other 2) Consoling the youngest when he had his predictable meltdown 3) Consoling each other when they had their inevitable meltdowns 4) Being comfortable with hard, sweaty, persistent effort 5) Weathering deer flies 6) Weathering boredom 7) Learning to enjoy "Type 2 Fun" (not fun while doing an activity, but fun in retrospect) because life can't be all "Type 1 Fun" (fun while doing an activity). -8) Learning how to fall off a bike, cry, then climb back on. Which was repeated far more often than I could have predicted.

And I discovered that kids can do amazing things: 1) Manage to somehow fall off of a picnic seat during an uncomplicated lunch. Multiple times. The 3 yo did it twice, the 5 yo once. 2) Recite an incredible diversity of clever songs - all about poop or other bodily emissions. 3) Scarf down an incredible amount of calories that would lead to you or I gaining at least 5# each day, but for them...the calories just miraculously vanish 4) Talk, jabber, and ask enough questions non-stop to drive any adult insane, no matter how emotionally resilient 5) oh, and also expend a mind-boggling amount of energy and go the distance, merely on the flimsy premise of an ice cream cone at the end."
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Old 07-10-23, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by tcs
Suggest a star tour rather than a linear tour: establish a 'headquarters' in a city (a city like Dayton Ohio or Washington DC). This could be a motel or a campground (one with your all-important toilet).
This doesn't match your geographic constraint, but my first thought was also a star tour with a headquarters or home base. However, my first thought was an island such as Martha's Island in Massachusetts. Fewer cars to worry about and relatively flat. If not that, I'd look for something with similar attributes: rail trails or areas with lower vehicle counts, vacation areas will have things to do (though perhaps pricy).
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Old 07-10-23, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra
We need to have regular toilets not the vault or pit toilets. Her dad says she doesn't do well with the other types of toilets.
I think this might not be a feasible proposition unfortunately. Even on the Great Allegheny Passage, which is very well developed, there are stretches for 10-20 miles or more where non-flushing toilets are all that are available. There's not a lot in either direction from Ohiopyle or between Confluence and Rockwood and the entire stretch from Frostburg to the Continental Divide is on a mountain, essentially disconnected from any amenities. Would it be possible to do a shorter day trip locally as a trial run, to see what kind of distance is tolerable between access to regular toilets? Alternatively perhaps an option exists for flat road riding near the coast but also regularly through coastal towns? I have biked through Delaware and along stretches of the Outer Banks and both were very flat for the most part, but your family would lose the shade and lack of motor vehicle traffic that a dedicated bike path offers.
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Old 07-11-23, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by essiemyra
Also I had looked at the pine creek trail in Pa and that won't do my son says because of the toilet issue. Any ideas for this tour?
We've done the Erie canal, GAP & Pine Creek, don't write off the Pine Creek. There is a campground mid point, Pettiecoat I think it is called, it is right on the trail, they have real toilets, activities, etc. They also have glamping tents if you don't want to haul a lot of gear. We've used Pettiecoat for a weekend of out & backs on the Pine Creek trail, it was very nice. I know this doesn't fit the 4 day thing but it could also be a good starter ride before committing to a a longer haul on something like the GAP or Erie.

Also someone suggested DC for a spoke tour, it has a huge selection of interconnected trails in an urban environment, again not what you were asking about, but an experience none the less. We used Crystal City as a base since its an office town, i.e. the place is pretty empty on the weekend and there is a direct connection to the trail network there.

You might want to check out Jim Thorpe PA and the Lehigh & D&L trails, or the D & R canal in NJ, again not exactly something you can go 4 days straight, but you could get 20 mile segments.

Last edited by DCwom; 07-11-23 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 07-11-23, 08:42 AM
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DCwom , do you think the western side of the Erie Canalway might work for the OP's purposes? I have never ridden it but on the map it looks like it goes through a lot more small towns than the GAP, so there would be more opportunities to use a regular toilet and get ice cream or do other diversions. There also seem to be a decent number of campgrounds and it goes right by Rochester Airport so that might be a good stopping point and a place to pick up a rental car to get bikes and gear back to the starting point.

In lieu of planning my own bike ride, I got really into this and came up with a theoretical itinerary that seemed like it might work for the OP's plan:

Day 1: Drive to West Canal County Park in Tonawanda, leave car and ride to Niagara County Camping Resort - 20 miles
Day 2: Niagara County Camping Resort to Dollinger's Motel in Albion, NY - 27 miles
Day 3: Albion to Brockport Welcome Center (offers camping and restroom/shower/laundry) - 15 miles
Day 4: Brockport to Rochester International Airport - 20 miles, and actually looks pretty easy and safe to get from the bike path to the car rental area.
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Old 07-11-23, 10:25 AM
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While the Pine Creek Trail is lovely, you're not going to find playgrounds, ice cream, or just about any other amenities other than the campground mentioned. The GAP is not flat and as someone mentioned, nothing in the way of amenities from the Eastern Continental Divide to Frostburg (and a nasty hill from the trail to Frostburg), or from Frostburg to Cumberland. I do not think trails in the DC area would work for a 5 year old. Some of the trails are very busy, and you would inevitably have to ride on some urban streets at times. I've never ridden the Erie Canal route, but it sounds like it may be your best bet.
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Old 07-12-23, 06:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins
DCwom , do you think the western side of the Erie Canalway might work for the OP's purposes? I have never ridden it but on the map it looks like it goes through a lot more small towns than the GAP, so there would be more opportunities to use a regular toilet and get ice cream or do other diversions. There also seem to be a decent number of campgrounds and it goes right by Rochester Airport so that might be a good stopping point and a place to pick up a rental car to get bikes and gear back to the starting point.

In lieu of planning my own bike ride, I got really into this and came up with a theoretical itinerary that seemed like it might work for the OP's plan:

Day 1: Drive to West Canal County Park in Tonawanda, leave car and ride to Niagara County Camping Resort - 20 miles
Day 2: Niagara County Camping Resort to Dollinger's Motel in Albion, NY - 27 miles
Day 3: Albion to Brockport Welcome Center (offers camping and restroom/shower/laundry) - 15 miles
Day 4: Brockport to Rochester International Airport - 20 miles, and actually looks pretty easy and safe to get from the bike path to the car rental area.
Its been a few years, but other than the Buffalo end, the western segments of the canal trail were pretty sparse on services. A lot of the little towns were closed up with not much to see. Things might be different now, or worse post pandemic I don't know.
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Old 07-13-23, 04:19 PM
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Originally Posted by ericoseveins

In lieu of planning my own bike ride, I got really into this and came up with a theoretical itinerary that seemed like it might work for the OP's plan:

Day 1: Drive to West Canal County Park in Tonawanda, leave car and ride to Niagara County Camping Resort - 20 miles
Day 2: Niagara County Camping Resort to Dollinger's Motel in Albion, NY - 27 miles
Day 3: Albion to Brockport Welcome Center (offers camping and restroom/shower/laundry) - 15 miles
Day 4: Brockport to Rochester International Airport - 20 miles, and actually looks pretty easy and safe to get from the bike path to the car rental area.
Thank-you so much for this information. I have forwarded this along to my son. I will let him make the final determination of what works for us. As it is his daughter. I appreciate your effort. I hope your bike ride planning is going well!
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Old 07-16-23, 12:29 PM
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The GAP would suit your criteria, especially if you shuttle to West Newton to start. Mckeesport is less than charming. Going the other way, towards Pgh, would be downhill, just ~2% but it makes a difference. Again, shuttle from Cumberland MD to Meyersdale and avoid a, relatively, steep uphill.
The Erie Canal is nice along the Canal, but includes interspersed road sections as opposed to the GAP's closed nature. Also, the Canalway is on the north side of the canal, exposed and shadeless to the summer sun (=hot!).
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