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Old 05-18-2009, 05:10 AM   #1
Jamie Z OP
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Mississippi River Trail Project

If you're not familiar, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is a bicycle route which follows the Mississippi River from "its headwaters in Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico." Almost all of it is public roads.

Here's what we have mapped so far. For GPX routes, see below.



http://www.mississippirivertrail.org/index.html


(photo from http://www.rideforalzheimers.com/journals04/aug30.html )

As a bicycle route, it is by design, kept on low-traffic roads, goes through some beautiful scenery, and visits some fascinating small towns. This makes is a perfect motorcycle route as well.

In contrast to the Great River Road, which often takes highways and bypasses the small and economically weak towns. The MRT has its focus on safety of the cyclist, rather than revenue dollars to the tourism sights along its path.

My goal has been to map the MRT. Unfortunately, much of it is unsigned, and even when it is signed, many of the signs are missing or hard to see. Having the GPS route helps greatly when trying to navigate this mostly-rural route.

This thread will be an ongoing project to route the entire route. A thorough Google search turned up no existing projects like this, and in one case, I even found a route file for the MRT which didn't follow the posted signs.

Minnesota:
Wisconsin: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...1&postcount=23
Iowa:
Illinois: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...8&postcount=71
Missouri: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...4&postcount=31
Kentucky: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...20&postcount=3
Tennessee: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...7&postcount=30
Arkansas: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...8&postcount=15
Mississippi Alternate: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...3&postcount=94
Mississippi: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...5&postcount=17
Louisiana:http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...6&postcount=97

I'm looking for volunteers to help me! If you live in a Mississippi River state, you can help me map out the route. Reply here or PM me.

Jamie
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Old 05-18-2009, 05:19 AM   #2
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Mapping the MRT

The MRT is a signed route which follows small rural roads and in some rare cases, bicycle paths. My goal is to route the entire course by GPS with downloadable GPX files for anyone to use to ride along the Mississippi.

In my experience, mapping the MRT isn't as easy as it first seems. The MRT website has general descriptive directions, but they're often hard to follow (and I've found some discrepancies from what I've seen in the field). In addition, the signs themselves don't always exist, or when they do, they're in bad repair or hard to see. It's very easy to miss a turn on the MRT. See below for some examples.

Sometimes the MRT follows another bicycle route, but they don't always go the same way.



You'll find that the MRT sign is missing, even though there is an arrow.



The signs are sometimes poorly maintained.



And you can't even see this one.



Here's a view from the back.



Nonetheless, with patience, I think high confidence in mapping the MRT can be achieved. I'm looking for volunteers to help me map the entire thing. If you can help, PM me or reply here.

Jamie
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Old 05-18-2009, 05:22 AM   #3
Jamie Z OP
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MRT Kentucky

My first contribution is Kentucky.

The Kentucky route leads from Wickliffe to Hickman. Beyond those towns I couldn't find any other signs, though technically the MRT should go from border to border.



[edit 18 May 2009: I've updated the route to go from border-to-border and to change the waypoints to via points. This version of the Kentucky MRT should be final.]

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File Type: gpx RouteMRTKentucky.gpx (61.5 KB, 436 views)
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:05 AM   #4
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Very cool, I've been doing something similar though by motorcycle in that I am planning on eventually riding the entire length of the Miss. River waterway and all rivers that flow into it that are part of the Lock and Dam system that allow barge traffic to travel from WV and few other states all the way to the Miss. Delta. I've done parts of WV, up to and along Ohio. Didn't know about the bike route, definitely a worthy endeavor. If I discover any sections as I get in rides along different sections that haven't been covered yet, I'' be sure to post them.

Good Luck!

RM
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Old 05-22-2009, 01:34 AM   #5
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MRT mapping

I have just printed and downloaded the map for Illinois. I'm not sure how much I can contribute, but I'll be happy to pass along what I gather. Sounds like fun!
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Old 05-22-2009, 02:15 AM   #6
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There seems to be a ton of info for the Illinois portion. I hope the other states are as plentiful. Here is a great link with optional scenic detours.

http://www.bikelib.org/mrt/booklet.pdf
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Old 04-15-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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After much gnashing of teeth, I think I've fixed up the Tennessee data and infrastructure. Turns out one sign was posted backwards so I went up there with some tools and straightened it out. In another case, the Vertices maps were incorrect, and the signage on the route was inconsistent, so it took riding multiple roads to figure out where it was intended to go. I'm almost positive I've got it all worked out. I've uploaded it to the Tennessee Page as Version 2.

Jamie
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Old 04-15-2012, 01:58 PM   #8
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Just looked back in and saw this. PM me and tell me when you want to ride.
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Old 07-21-2012, 01:09 PM   #9
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I'll be riding the northern MN section today and tomorrow. Planning to arrive at Itasca at about 3pm. Start the MRT maybe around 4pm and get as far as I can. Continue tomorrow. Go as far as the Twin Cities.

If you're in the area and want to join me, call or text, 901-237-1007.

Jamie
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:23 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamie Z View Post
I'll be riding the northern MN section today and tomorrow. Planning to arrive at Itasca at about 3pm. Start the MRT maybe around 4pm and get as far as I can. Continue tomorrow. Go as far as the Twin Cities.

If you're in the area and want to join me, call or text, 901-237-1007.

Jamie
How did the ride go? I was supposed to ride the MN side from Iowa to the TC this weekend but got hung up.

Are you collecting all of this data in one place to share? I was thinking of taking all the data posted here so far and creating a public google map with all segments documented, but I don't want to replicate someone elses work.

Thanks!
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:11 PM   #11
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Well this has been a Great read for the Noob! Between Dothan Al and Tupelo MS. I figured out that I was pretty green and thought the MRT was only for bicycle dudes! Yes I'm a dirt track Guy moving to the other side! I am curious how you load that data down and put it out to usable form in GPS and paper maps? Yes I'm green and stupid in this area but i'm not afraid to look dumb! I do it often!

Big Dog your last day of work and your trip you took was a outstanding read! Still scratching my head on how you take your klr everywhere and you Inspired me to make my first small trip on my 450.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:32 PM   #12
Jamie Z OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charliesdaemon View Post
How did the ride go? I was supposed to ride the MN side from Iowa to the TC this weekend but got hung up.

Are you collecting all of this data in one place to share? I was thinking of taking all the data posted here so far and creating a public google map with all segments documented, but I don't want to replicate someone elses work.
Oops! Completely missed this post.

I was able to ride most of the northern MN portion down to about St. Cloud. I learned that MN doesn't have an MRT signs at all. None that I saw, at least. What I confirmed is that the MRT maps were all good. I didn't get a chance to ride through the Twin Cities where the MRT follows bicycle paths for a distance. My plan had been to route around the bicycle paths, but I never got the chance.

Am I collecting this data in one place to share? Um, sure. This thread. Look at the first post.

Jamie
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:52 PM   #13
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Mississippi Alternate Route

Between Memphis TN and Helena, AR, the MRT jogs over to the west side of the Mississippi River and goes down through Arkansas, and then back on the east side:

It's possible to completely skip Arkansas and stay on the east side of the river. See below:



The Arkansas MRT is shown in red. The Mississippi Alternate MRT is shown in green.

Both routes are roughly the same as far as scenery They're both very rural and agricultural. The Mississippi side is closer to the river both geographically and culturally. The Arkansas side has a few more curves. And by a few I mean it takes two hands to count the curves instead of one. Both routes are very flat and straight most of the way.

In Mississippi, you'll go through a few very tiny towns and one larger town, Tunica. In Arkansas you'll pass through some small communities, plus West Memphis, Marianna, and Helena, the latter two historic communities of interest.

The Mississippi side tends to be a little impoverished. The Arkansas side goes through a couple of resort areas with boats and nicer homes. The Mississippi side is the Delta. Home of the Blues.

If you like casinos, the Mississippi side with take you through Tunica County, home to nine large casinos. If you go through Arkansas, you'll go by Southland Park which is a dog track/casino kinda place. And then down by Helena you'll go past the Isle of Capri as you cross back into Mississippi.

It's about 35 miles longer to go through Arkansas.

So, flip a coin.

Jamie
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Old 06-20-2013, 02:48 PM   #14
Jamie Z OP
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I've added a map to each state page so you can see where the route goes. As usual, the GPX is available for download on each state page too.

Gregg and I are still planning to ride the Louisiana section sometime, hopefully soon before it gets too hot.

Jamie
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Old 07-09-2013, 07:24 AM   #15
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Yay Jamie! Glad to see this project is progressing very well.

Update on that section of Missouri Hwy 79 closed for repairs when you and I rode it for the MRT: It is open again. I drove back in the car from the North last May, and I saw the new stretch of pavement the highway department installed. No more detour in the area.

Phat fingered on my smarty pants fone, now using the new Tapatalk Beta 4.
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