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Advice on leaving NYC, and cycling through the Carolinas

Old 04-03-11, 01:20 PM
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chiroptile
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Advice on leaving NYC, and cycling through the Carolinas

Hey guys, posted a thread yesterday, might have been a tad convoluted. I'll strip it down to the bare essentials, would really appreciate some help.

Setting out south from NYC.. Would like to link up with the Adventure Cycling AC route.. Trying to decide between Crossing the George Washington Bridge, and hooking up with the trail in Pennsylvania, or taking the Battery - Sandy Hook, NJ ferry, then meeting the trail in Maryland. Would love to hear some experiences of folks who'd done Either one.. Which route would have better camping opportunities?

My other question was.. We'll be following AC route down to Richmond, then splitting off on the Greenway towards Durham, NC.. The final destination is Athens, GA

https://www.idcide.com/i/mc2/ga/athens.gif

If any Carolina friends could suggest a good route with camping opportunities to take to our destination, I would really appreciate it.

Thank You
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Old 04-03-11, 05:25 PM
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Be sure to check out Pisgah National Forest near Asheville NC. Also Asheville is a cool ass town to spend some time in.
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Old 04-03-11, 05:43 PM
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On the "Escape from NYC" choice, it depends on how much you like hills. If you're okay with them, just head west into PA. Alternatively, taking the ferry to Sandy Hook gives you a couple of options. You can head west from there and connect with the canal towpath out of Edison/New Brunswick. That's 60 or so miles of car free travel into Trenton, then cut across to York, PA where you can connect with the North Central rail trail that will take you to just north of Baltimore. The second option is to head south and take the Cape May-Lewes ferry. From there you can either head west to the Bay Bridge into Annapolis or go south all the way to Norfolk. The negative of going all the way to Norfolk is it's not as direct for the ride to Durham if you absolutely need to go there.
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Old 04-03-11, 07:38 PM
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QueueCT, thank you so much.. The towpath/rail trail sounds pretty neat. I looked at some photos, and i think the gravel pack should be okay.. Probably slow us down a little bit, but not too badly. Do you know if camping is a viability along those paths? We would need to join up with another tourer in DC, so Norfolk wouldn't be an option.

And Rapport.. Asheville could work. Thank you!
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Old 04-04-11, 02:26 AM
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You sure about cutting from Edison NJ over to York PA then back east to Baltimore????

That's a long way out of the way. If you want to do it that's fine, I'm just saying the extra mileage - especially if you have time constraints. York is 70 miles east of me, and Edison is near 200 - and that is highway and interstate.
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Old 04-04-11, 06:54 AM
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Charly17201--Depends on the OPs priorities . . . it's about an additional 70 miles to head west from Trenton to York then down to Baltimore vs. taking the more direct route through Philly to Baltimore. Pretty significant, yes, but what's the value of a more scenic ride to York plus the rail trail? The ride from Philly to B'more is a drag if you're paralleling Rt 40. I personally like the alternative of heading down to the Cape May-Lewes ferry then across to the Bay Bridge (with a ride across it to Annapolis). It's the same mileage addition but light traffic. No matter how you slice it the ride from B'more to DC or from Annapolis to DC is a pain. Agree that it's a question of time constraints . . . adds an extra day.

Chiroptile--Sorry, don't know about camping options, I tend to credit card tour unless it's a quick weekend trip. Probably a bit of a challenge on the Delaware & Raritan Canal trail though.
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Old 04-04-11, 07:34 AM
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The NC Dept of Transportation has a series of free maps with suggested bike routes across the state. You can get more information and order the maps at this web page:

https://www.ncdot.gov/travel/mappubs/...s/default.html
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Old 04-04-11, 08:43 AM
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If you take the D&R canal path towards, Trenton, get on the other leg that heads towards Frenchtown, NJ. It passes through Lambertville, NJ, which is on the AC route.

NY Route 17 passes through Middletown, which is on the AC route. Heading south from there you will find camping outside Port Jervis, NY. You then cross into NJ and go through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Very pretty. At the southern end, there is camping at Worthington State Forest. Once you get to Frenchtown, NJ, you can pick up the D&R bike path. It's nicely surfaced and really doesn't slow you down that much. About 10 miles south of Frenchtown the trail passes Bull's Island Recreation Area, which has a nice campground (you will most likey need a reservation if you plan to stay there on a weekend night.) You can take the trail into Stockton (about 4 miles) for groceries. There is also a great wine store there. Rte. 29 from Frenchtown has a wide shoulder until Stockton, where it disappears until Lambertville. The bike path is recommended, at least south of Bull's Island. You probably won't find any camping between Bull's island until a good distance south of Norristown, PA.
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Old 04-04-11, 12:47 PM
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I mapped it out.. Cape may - Annapolis - DC is definitely the most direct route. The towpaths and rail trails are more picturesque.. So, will have to run it by my friend, but Jersey Shore south shot might be the way to go..

Indyfabz, I would be starting out from the Bronx, and Port Jervis would be a bit out of the way. Lambertville could work if we choose to go the trails route.

Either way, I really appreciate the ideas, guys.. Thank you
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Old 04-04-11, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
So, will have to run it by my friend, but Jersey Shore south shot might be the way to go..
There are some private campgrounds inland from Ocean City down to Cape May, NJ. Probably relatively expensive, but if you plan your days right, you may not need to stop at any of them. Be advised that the prevailing winds through coastal towns like Ocean City, Avalon, and Wildwood come off the water in a northerly direction. Best to ride early. The nice thing is that it's absolutely flat except for the bridges linking the islands. (Avoid U.S. 9. Too much traffic.) If you pass through that area early enough in the a.m., you can ride on the boardwalks of Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Avalon and Wildwood. Bikes usually have to be off by 10 or 11 a.m.
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Old 04-04-11, 02:29 PM
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This is not from experience, but I've been looking at doing some biking/camping in NC, so here's some food for thought:
Out of Durham is a bike/ped trail, the American Tobacco Trail, that goes almost due south almost to Jordan Lake where there is a campground. It is not 100% paved, but I've been the length of it on my touring bike with no issues.
From Jordan Lake, I think it's a day's trip to the Uwharrie National Forest. Never been there, but it's on my todo list.
Looking along the line from Uwharrie to Altanta, I see another national Forest, Sumter, that looks promising, but it'd be a very ambitious day. I see a small state park, Landsford Canal State Park, about 80 miles from Uwharrie and 50 miles from Sumter. It might make a good stepping stone. I don't know anything about the SC stuff. I've only looked into the NC camping options. Beyond Sumter it looks like there might be a number of park options for camping. I mapped it out just picking nicely-spaced out state parks and national forests, and it made for long days, but it could probably be stretched out more (https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...9&z=7&lci=bike).
Also this is a generic Google route. I haven't biked beyond Jordan Lake yet, so I can't vouch for the quality of those roads.

I agree with Rapport that Asheville a nice area. However it looks to me like it's off your route and it's also in the mountains, so it depends on how leisurely of a trip you want to take.
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Old 04-04-11, 07:20 PM
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Thank you Rob_E.. Definitely an Idea.. And, keeps things nice and flat.. I also received my North Carolina DOT cycle maps in the mail..

Indy.. I did a google maps routing of Atlantic Highlands to Cape May.. The shortest route takes us about 25 miles inland.. But, looks like it avoids some of the high traffic alternatives, including the Route 9 that you mentioned.. BRONX - Washington DC comes out to roughly 280. Seems very feasible.
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Old 04-05-11, 08:44 PM
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Just going to chime in with my personal experience--the GW bridge crossing is a real hassle. I actually threw my back out a year and a half ago trying to negotiate my touring bike and all my gear up and down the several flights of staircases on both approaches on and off the bridge. It's really not worth it, even if you take the time to unload on both sides, you're dealing with at least three distinct times when you will have to unload and carry stuff, while trying to run back and forth and make sure no one has stolen your bike or anything else.

Seriously, take a ferry to NJ, you have enough to worry about already in riding through it.
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Old 04-05-11, 08:47 PM
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Oh yeah, and Route 9 is a disaster.
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Old 04-05-11, 09:57 PM
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I know what you mean! They usually they have the south walk open. That one has a very tight little snakeway that takes you to the main span on the NYC side, and once you get across, it's pretty much a straight ramp into Fort Lee. You can negotiate the whole thing without getting off your bike once. Every now and then they close that way down, and redirect foot/cycle traffic to the north walk.. The one with all the stairs. Definitely wouldn't want to leave anything unattended running back and forth between bike and bags.. You threw your back out?! Did that put an end to your tour for a while, or did you troop it out? I threw mine a couple of years ago, and could barely move for a good week. Can't imagine that happening on the GWB, and mid-tour to boot.
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Old 04-06-11, 08:07 AM
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Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
Thank you Rob_E.. Definitely an Idea.. And, keeps things nice and flat.. I also received my North Carolina DOT cycle maps in the mail..

Indy.. I did a google maps routing of Atlantic Highlands to Cape May.. The shortest route takes us about 25 miles inland.. But, looks like it avoids some of the high traffic alternatives, including the Route 9 that you mentioned.. BRONX - Washington DC comes out to roughly 280. Seems very feasible.
Can you post a link to the NJ portion? Bellplain State Forest in Woodbine has camping and a cedar lake for swimming. And if you like BBQ, there's a guy who runs a roadside stand with tables on the main drag on Saturday and Sunday starting Easter weekend. Otherwise, Woodbine is a dump.
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Old 04-06-11, 11:11 AM
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Sure thing.. Here's how google has us moving.

https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...h&z=8&lci=bike
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Old 04-07-11, 05:20 AM
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When will you be heading out? I'd expect to encounter twice as much traffic if you're going at the height of tourist season.
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Old 04-07-11, 08:29 AM
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Heading out on June 10th.. Mmm.. Jersey shore bound crowds. As long as people as people drive nice, I have no problem..

Another idea I'm mulling around is Taking the ferry to Atlantic Highlands, then setting out to Wilmington, De
https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...2&z=9&lci=bike

From there, heading towards Washington DC
https://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...2&z=9&lci=bike

Shaves off about fifty miles, which could amount to a day if you take into account bypassing the Cape May - Lewes ferry.. But, looking at the route, almost not even worth it, it seems.. Besides.. Ferries are pretty cool.
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Old 04-07-11, 09:56 AM
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Hey, chiroptile I am looking at the same situation. I amplanning ona x country trip march 2012 from stamford ct. I wish i could go over tapan zee. I thought about GW but besides the stairs the hassle I have read about on the jersey side is not worth it. I am leaning on taking the ferry which go to Highlands NJ (not Atlantic highlands) close but different. I like to head into PA then south. I am going to greenville SC to visit my dad on the way, (out of the waybut important.) Then heading westt to LA. let me know what you decide and Il look for your comments on the trip.
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Old 04-07-11, 11:50 AM
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Couple things:

If going east to west to meet the D&R canal near New Brunswick, the trail is about 30 miles long. There is no camping along this route. Camping is available at Bulls Island, but that's 20 to 30 miles north of Trenton. So, big detour to get there.

As alternatives to cutting across the Eastern Shore straight to the Bay Bridge near Annapolis, there are Ferries that start running about this time of year that can get you across the bay. The first ferry takes you from Crisfield MD to Tangiers Island VA. The next ferry takes you from Tangiers to Reedsville Va. If these ferries are running they could add a picturesque element to your ride and open up your riding options. This would allow you to approach DC from the SE eventually using the Mt Vernon trail and then on to other DC trails. Or, you could avoid the Balto/DC area all together and ride Va's tidewater countryside towards Richmond. Just a thought. Beats waiting for a ride across the Annapolis Bay Bridge. The ride from the Cape May ferry to Crisfield is, i think, about 90 miles. All country roads. There is camping along or near the route. Camp at Jane's Island campground about 4 or 5 miles out of Crisfield. There is no camping on Tangiers but i believe they have a B&B.

Lastly, the ride down the Jersey shore is a decent ride. Chk out the MS ride that goes from Sandy Hook for northern Jersey options. Once south of Tom's River, it gets easy. You can follow Rt 9 until Ocean city and then cut over to the barrier islands - follow all the way to Cape May or go inland through the Pinelands. State park campgrounds with showers etc for $20 night or primative for $2. Nice roads!!!! Some with bike lanes!!!!!! All with decent shoulders.

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Old 04-08-11, 06:46 AM
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There is a paved trail (Henry Hudson Trail) that runs from Atlantic Highlands/Highlands/Sandy Hook to Freehold, this is another potential route the gets you off road into central NJ. As for the D&R the feeder canal that runs south from Frenchtown on the Delaware river it has a good stone dust surface (we ride 700/32 tires on a tandem), I can't say what the main D&R canal is like out of New Brunswick but last time we rode it (a number of years ago) there were some rough spots.

Concerning the NJ coastal route I live about 2 miles from the ocean and I can say the route from Sandy Hook/Atlantic Highlands/Highlands down to Sea Girt/Manasquan is pretty good riding. The traffic along the coast is generally pretty slow (25-35 MPH speed limits), and there is often a decent shoulder most of the way. You'll encounter short stretches of "city riding" i.e. car doors, pedestrian crossings, etc. in towns like Belmar but these are very short, you'll have a great view of the Atlantic ocean most of the way. We've never ridden south of Manasquan, but you've got to cross the Manasquan river via the Highway 35 drawbridge into Point Pleasant or further inland by the Highway 70 drawbridge.
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Old 04-08-11, 11:19 AM
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ops, just realized i misspoke about being able to follow RT 9 all the way to OC. At New Gretna RT9 joins the Garden State Parkway for two miles to get over the Mullica River. So, a detour onto RT 542 is needed. Google maps can show you several alternative RTs to get you to either Cape May or back out to the coast. The ride inland thru the Pine Barrens is a good ride. Once south of Mays Landing traffic picks up.

Also, if you don't want to pay for a room in Cape May, there is good camping on the other side of the bay. A few miles from Lewes DE is Cape Henlopen State Park. Visit Cape May, plan a late aftrnoon departure, ride the ferry, camp at the state park. From there Jane's Island, roughly 90 miles. if you are still planning to cut acroos the DelMarva, this campground also works as a good place to stop.

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Old 04-08-11, 11:48 AM
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Cotter, this is great, thank you. The camping information really throws everything in focus. I looked at the other ferry alternatives you suggested. Looks like a very nice way into Virginia, however, going to have to link up with another touring friend in DC on the 14th, so I think hitching a ride across the bridge to Annapolis is still the best shot. However, Twerney.. Probably a very good option for you. Bypass Trenton and Philly and Baltimore and DC on your way to Greenville.. And DC.. Thank you for the routing heads up. Along the ocean sounds really nice.. I bet it gets mighty windy.
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Old 04-08-11, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by chiroptile View Post
I know what you mean! They usually they have the south walk open. That one has a very tight little snakeway that takes you to the main span on the NYC side, and once you get across, it's pretty much a straight ramp into Fort Lee. You can negotiate the whole thing without getting off your bike once. Every now and then they close that way down, and redirect foot/cycle traffic to the north walk.. The one with all the stairs. Definitely wouldn't want to leave anything unattended running back and forth between bike and bags.. You threw your back out?! Did that put an end to your tour for a while, or did you troop it out? I threw mine a couple of years ago, and could barely move for a good week. Can't imagine that happening on the GWB, and mid-tour to boot.
Oh yeah, I rode on for another 50 miles to Suffern, NY, and I was surely sufferin' as I couldn't stand up straight for the rest of the day, and all of the following morning. The next day I decided (wisely) to take NJ Transit back to Penn Station and called it quits. I learned two things: even though I spent most of that morning stretching, you need weeks of good stretching (not just biking) before heading out on a tour. And of course, never to take my bicycle over the GW again.
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