Great destinations for biking
April 9, 2022 10:30 AM   Subscribe

What are some good destinations in North America for a biking centric trip?

Hi there. I wanted to plan a surprise trip for our anniversary in July/August in a location suited for road biking. I have looked into Backroads but I am not sure if we are ready for that just yet. The only place not considered is around Summit County in CO as we have already been there a couple of times. Good bike rental places a plus otherwise we could take our bikes with. This would also be a trip where would fly to. No real limits to terrain as we (will be) are in pretty good bike shape.
Seriously open to anything and more trails than actual on road biking would be great. Thanks to any and all suggestions!!
posted by repoman to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Sorry, we are currently located in the Chicago area. So if suggestions are within a couple of hours from here, we would consider driving. Thanks again!
posted by repoman at 10:31 AM on April 9, 2022

Circle Lake Michigan. No car needed. There are a couple ferry crossings if you want to shorten the route.
posted by steinwald at 10:40 AM on April 9, 2022

Backroads but I am not sure if we are ready for that just yet.

we (will be) are in pretty good bike shape.

What is it about Backroads that you want to avoid?
posted by JimN2TAW at 10:49 AM on April 9, 2022

Best answer: There are so many options.
"more trails than actual on-road biking" - does this mean you want to ride bike paths, or do mountain biking, rather than share roads with cars?
How many days of riding? miles per day? Do you want to ride point-to-point, or have 'base camp' & do loop rides? July/August could be hot- do you have weather prefs?
You could investigate the 'rails to trails' options in the region. For a similar road bike trip to Oregon I researched a bunch of local bike clubs and asked about the best ride in the area. We rode around Crater Lake and the Bend region. Ride with GPS has route maps and profiles you can d/l. Strava Heat maps show the popular routes other cyclists use.
posted by TDIpod at 10:56 AM on April 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You can ride along the Erie Canal on a path pretty much the whole way from Buffalo, NY to Albany. Then there's another path that goes north and south, so you can go up to the Canadian border, or down to NYC. So you could pick from numerous cities to fly into and ride however far in whichever direction you want.
posted by jonathanhughes at 11:00 AM on April 9, 2022 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: What is it about Backroads that you want to avoid?

It's a bit pricey and I don't think we want to be confined to an itinerary.
posted by repoman at 11:04 AM on April 9, 2022

Best answer: People like Vermont. Block Island might be fun.
Cape cod has a lot of good rail trails. You could fly into Boston, rent bikes, take the ferry to Provincetown.
posted by ReluctantViking at 11:11 AM on April 9, 2022

Best answer: There are lots of lightly traveled back roads in New England. From where I live, near Amherst and Northampton, Massachusetts, you can do fairly flat rides northwards in the Connecticut River valley and you can get hillier terrain if you head east or west away from the river. Vermont has some nice riding too—flat or flattish in the Champlain Valley (including the Lake Champlain islands, which are popular among cyclists). I used to live in Addison County VT and enjoyed cycling on its back roads. There are plenty of rail trails too.
posted by brianogilvie at 11:52 AM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Check out the itineraries of great bike outfitters, Sierra Club, etc. See where they go, where they stay, and see if you can make local arrangements yourselves.
posted by Elsie at 11:52 AM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: La route verte in Quebec is a great option. So is the golden triangle in the Rockies.
posted by Acari at 2:29 PM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm currently planning a 6 day trip on the GAP / C&O trail from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. This fellow did an excellent write up of what it's like.
posted by sewellcm at 4:55 PM on April 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Katy Trail. More in Missouri, including a bunch that make loops or connections to the Katy Trail. Or if you're more into gravel/adventure type routes.

If you want to leave right from home you could ride the IL Route 66 bicycle route - really nice. You can continue that through Missouri and beyond if you like.

There is also the Adventure Cycling Association national route network and then the U.S. Bicycle Route system - several nice connections through IL and to the Chicago area.

FYI I would consider the first two paragraphs to be routes that are mostly/completely trails or really go out of the way to have a nice low-traffic, low-stress route. Less direct, maybe, but more scenic and less traffic.

The ACA and USBR routes are more for people really comfortable riding on just about any road - 50-60-65 MPH rural roads with usually low but sometimes moderate traffic and (often in the midwest) little to no shoulder, etc. They generally route through lower population/lower traffic areas by they are more after fairly direct and simple routes vs minimizing traffic per se. Thousands of cyclists ride these every year, so they are perfectly usable but I would classify the average rider as a fairly hardened roadie, not so much a trail-only or neighborhood cyclist.
posted by flug at 5:31 PM on April 9, 2022 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I am waving from Wisconsin, where there are many delightful rails-to-trails and other bike infrastructure. You can try the Horribly Hilly Hundred if you like, but the Badger State Trail is quite a bit closer...
posted by humbug at 6:10 PM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Depending on how many kms/days you are looking for I can recommend the P'tit train du nord and the Veloroute des bluets, both of which are part of Quebec's route verte mentioned above. We've been looking at a multi-day bike trip for the family in PEI this year. We've also spent some time on the KVR in BC and would love to do more if we had the chance.
posted by Cuke at 8:00 PM on April 9, 2022 [1 favorite]

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