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Appalachian Trail equivalent touring route?

Old 04-06-11, 03:05 PM
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erichkopp
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Appalachian Trail equivalent touring route?

I love trail running and hiking, especially in the Appalachians, but have no desire to thru hike the AT. Touring a parallel route by bike and experiencing the same scenery, however, would be incredible.

Has anyone ever put a route like this together? I'd imagine the amount of climbing on a tour like this would be incredibly masochistic, and I think that kind of makes me want to do it that much more.
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Old 04-06-11, 03:49 PM
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I would suggest simply deciding what parts of the country you would like to ride in.
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Old 04-06-11, 04:00 PM
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I'm not clear on what you're looking for. Do you want something that's as iconic in bicycle touring as the AT is in hiking? Go for the TransAm. Do you want to parallel most of the AT? You might design a route incorporates large chunks of U.S. 11 (interstate 81 takes most of the traffic, most of the way), with maybe detour onto Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Oh, and if you want the experience of "climb every mountain. From the bottom." you can go from the southern end of the BRP over to the Cherohala Skyway. Then go south on TN 68 to Copper Hill, and head for Brasstown Bald.
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Old 04-06-11, 04:20 PM
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I've ran up Brasstown on the hiking trail from GA-180 to the top of the bald - I'd agree that riding up it should come next!

I'm basically curious to see if anyone has ridden or put together a route that follows the Appalachian chain from South to North (or vice-versa). Not necessarily something that parallels the AT exactly, but just travels through the same region.
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Old 04-06-11, 04:33 PM
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The equally iconic bike trail is the Great Divide. Not, obviously, a near parallel route to the AT.
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Old 04-06-11, 04:41 PM
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The Sierra Cascades parallels the Pacific Crest trail. To my eye it is FAR more scenic than a route paralleling the AT could ever be. But as you might guess it does have a great deal of climbing.
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Old 04-06-11, 04:51 PM
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Let's focus in a bit.

I have hiked most of the AT in Maine.

There simply is nothing on the road remotely comparable.
I could send you zigzagging, but if you looked at the trip on the
map, you wouldn't like it.

OTOH, I could design a phenomenal trip for you. You want mountains, we
got mountains. And lakes, And seashore. And good restaurants. And historical sites,
if that interests you. I know all sorts of nooks and crannies. It's just a question of time,
and what you like.

But you can't follow the trail.
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Old 04-06-11, 05:11 PM
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+1 to what the last people have said. I hiked some of the AT a few years back, and the nearest road to most of the trail is nothing compared to the trail itself.

I also second what staehpj1 said. While I havent hiked on the PCT itself, I've hiked around in the Sierras and it is much more scenic of an area. If I was to do a north-south tour this summer, it would be the Sierra Cascades route
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Old 04-06-11, 06:14 PM
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Bike the Blue ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive as a good start. You might be able to piece together a reasonable parallel from local bike guides through VA, MD, PA, NJ, NY and New England.. good luck. I did skyline deive last June. "Bicycling the Blue Ridge" by Elizabeth & Charlie Skinner was helpful
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Old 04-06-11, 10:30 PM
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Doing the Blue Ridge Parkway and then continuing onto Skyline Drive sounds like what I'm looking to do. I could even start in north Georgia and head towards Great Smoky Mountains NP before getting onto the Parkway. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 04-06-11, 10:51 PM
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Originally Posted by erichkopp View Post
I love trail running and hiking, especially in the Appalachians, but have no desire to thru hike the AT. Touring a parallel route by bike and experiencing the same scenery, however, would be incredible.

Has anyone ever put a route like this together? I'd imagine the amount of climbing on a tour like this would be incredibly masochistic, and I think that kind of makes me want to do it that much more.
A bike version of the AT sounds like a great idea & makes me wonder why I've never read about this idea. In Virginia & North Carolina you have Skyline Drive & Blue Ridge Parkway all ready for safe but masochistic riding. They are so pretty it almost makes one forget the long uphill grinds.

Be sure to stop in Buena Vista VA--I started a weekend BRP tour there & the folks were very friendly, I ran into a couple hiking the AT & a local bike-touring lady who offered a nite's stayover if I needed it. Plus Skyline Drive/BRP have frequent altitude signs so that bikers can accurately post home as to how much 'suffering' they're doing. Granny gears are a must of course. With all that climbing you might be considering staying in motels to save tent/sleeping bag etc weight.
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Old 04-07-11, 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan View Post
Be sure to stop in Buena Vista VA
Just remember, it's pronounced "BYOONA Vista"
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Old 04-07-11, 05:52 AM
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I know you're not supposed to ride a mountain bike on the AT trail (at least not in New york where I am), but would there really be anyone stopping you? I mean, you wouldn't get fined or anything right? If caught, you could just say how you didn't know and turn around.
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Old 04-07-11, 07:48 AM
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Try the ACA Atlantic Coast probably as close as you can come to the trail.
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Old 04-07-11, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
The equally iconic bike trail is the Great Divide. Not, obviously, a near parallel route to the AT.
Yes. The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Roosvile, MT to Antelope Wells, NM. There is also a Candian section that starts in Banff. In total, 2,711 miles with over 200,000 ft. of climbing according to the 2007 film "Ride the Divide."

https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/greatdivide.cfm
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Old 04-07-11, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
I know you're not supposed to ride a mountain bike on the AT trail (at least not in New york where I am), but would there really be anyone stopping you? I mean, you wouldn't get fined or anything right? If caught, you could just say how you didn't know and turn around.
Just don't.

The AT was created at great cost and effort by hikers.
Volunteers spend endless hours keeping it open.

You might get away with it once. But eventually you would run
across someone like me.
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Old 04-07-11, 09:51 AM
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The Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive sound like just what you are looking for, altho not as long as the AT. Bikes are not allowed on the AT and I would not recommend ignoring the ban. Even if you get away with it, the AT cannot handle the added traffic of mountain bikes, both in terms of space and trail erosion.

If you want something longer, check the routes developed by the Adventure Cycling Association.

https://www.adventurecycling.org/
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Old 04-07-11, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by late View Post
Just don't.

The AT was created at great cost and effort by hikers.
Volunteers spend endless hours keeping it open.

You might get away with it once. But eventually you would run
across someone like me.
Alrighty... But I am curious as to why mountain biking is prohibited on the trail? it's not as if mountain bikers would be disturbing anything. they would just pass along the trail as a hiker would, enjoying the scenery and exercise. If a hiker and biker met on the path, they would just pass by each other without consequence.
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Old 04-07-11, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
I know you're not supposed to ride a mountain bike on the AT trail (at least not in New york where I am), but would there really be anyone stopping you? I mean, you wouldn't get fined or anything right? If caught, you could just say how you didn't know and turn around.
I'd be willing to bet you would never make the entire trail without being fined and probably arrested. Personally I think that is as it should be. If you want to do the AT then hike it.
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Old 04-07-11, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
Alrighty... But I am curious as to why mountain biking is prohibited on the trail? it's not as if mountain bikers would be disturbing anything. they would just pass along the trail as a hiker would, enjoying the scenery and exercise. If a hiker and biker met on the path, they would just pass by each other without consequence.
Mountain bike tires are much more destructive to trails than hiking boots. That's assuming that the MTBers stay on the trail. The trail can be crowded in spots, so the MTBers would either need to ride off the trail or run over hikers. In some areas, the AT is already badly eroded from overuse. Allowing mtn bikes would only make the problem worse, much worse.
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Old 04-07-11, 01:32 PM
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Agreed. If I saw someone with a bike on the AT I would probably say something to them and/or call a ranger. It's a horrible idea, especially for some of the busier and more dangerous sections. Aside from that, there are significant portions that would be impossible to complete on any mountain bike.

I'll second what others have said about biking the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Not only are they beautiful areas, drivers tend to be respectful of bikers. I also think the speed limit for most (all?) of the route is 35 mph.
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Old 04-07-11, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Uosdwis R Dewoh View Post
I'll second what others have said about biking the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. Not only are they beautiful areas, drivers tend to be respectful of bikers. I also think the speed limit for most (all?) of the route is 35 mph.
I think the speed limit is 45 for most of the BRP. And while the cagers are usually courteous, be careful of (1) holiday weekends, (2) monster RVs driven by little old men, and (3) fall leaf color season.

Oh, and about biking the trail, stay out of the national parks fersure.
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Old 04-08-11, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
Alrighty... But I am curious as to why mountain biking is prohibited on the trail? it's not as if mountain bikers would be disturbing anything. they would just pass along the trail as a hiker would, enjoying the scenery and exercise. If a hiker and biker met on the path, they would just pass by each other without consequence.
Bikes rip up trails a lot faster than people.

Last I heard, they were having trouble keeping up with it,
the Boomers are getting old. I do hope it doesn't disappear.

Don't get me wrong, I love biking, and I used to Mtn bike.
But the thing I liked best was backpacking.
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Old 04-08-11, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Lamabb View Post
Alrighty... But I am curious as to why mountain biking is prohibited on the trail? it's not as if mountain bikers would be disturbing anything. they would just pass along the trail as a hiker would, enjoying the scenery and exercise. If a hiker and biker met on the path, they would just pass by each other without consequence.
There are sections that riding is allowed. Look on the Conservancy website. Having hiked from Amicalola falls to Springer mtn, I can't imagine someone being able to safely ride it. Esp with gear. That's a pretty tough climb on foot much less on bike. It's almost like a rough ship's ladder.

At least in Ga, it goes close to an army ranger base. The rangers use the area for training. You want to mess with them? Knowing a couple of guys there, I'm sure they would have something to say about riding it.

As for responsible riding? I continuously see people riding irresponsibly in the natural parks around here. It's naive to assume that a rider and hiker would always pass each other without incident. The trail was made for hikers, and should be left that way.
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Old 04-08-11, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
Mountain bike tires are much more destructive to trails than hiking boots.
Not true. There is this

One study specifically compares the impact on trails of four user classes, hikers, horses, motorcycles, and off-road bicycles. Wilson and Seney (1994) applied experimental passes to various sites on an existing trail system in the Gallatin National Forest of Montana. They found that users on foot (hikers and horses) make more sediment available than do users on wheels (mountain bikes and motorcycles).
which shows that foot traffic causes more erosion by making more sediment available. And there is this

In the August 1999 issue of Outside magazine, Jill Danz wrote, "a 1987 effort, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, found that only one user group clearly messes up wild places, those who build trails in the first place. Every group's impact after that is relatively negligible."
Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
That's assuming that the MTBers stay on the trail. The trail can be crowded in spots, so the MTBers would either need to ride off the trail or run over hikers. In some areas, the AT is already badly eroded from overuse. Allowing mtn bikes would only make the problem worse, much worse.
Only partially untrue, especially the part about mountain bikes going off trail. The following holds true for the most part

There is very little use of mountain bikes off-trail. In fact, for the majority of the mountain bikers, the trail is the most desirable place to ride for safety and pleasure. Hikers often wander off trail, regarding their own diffuse impact as negligible.
The crux of the problem is the amount of traffic and the unwillingness of the users (both foot and wheel) to share (foot) and behave (wheel).
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