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Old 11-15-2012, 03:50 PM   #1
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Northern Cross Country Dirt Route - Planning phase - need volunteers

Here is the idea:

A "new" cross country (east-west/west-east) dirt route across the more northern part of the U.S. (or possibly southern Canada).

Here is a possible way to get it done:

Volunteers - anyone interested who lives in (or is very familair with) the more northern tier states of the country (see map)



For example I mapped out a (90% dirt) route this summer that connects southeastern MI (Detroit/Windsor area) with the Expedition Michigan route (Great Lakes Dual Sport MC ) that leads North into the UP and then pickup another exsisting route that heads West into Wisconsin.

The goal would be to connect it going East (OH/PA/NY/etc) (or VIA Canada) to the coast and West thru (WI/MN/ND/SD/MT/WA) to the coast.

Before anyone gets upset - this would not be meant to compete with Sam and the TAT, but if completed it would simply be another route. I am not looking to profit from this and looking for others who also would be interested doing it just for the challenge.

The route would connect dirt roads, two-track, fire roads, trails, anything that is legally traveled by motorized vehicle. It may prove to be impossible/impractical to completely avoid pavement entirely... but the less, the better.

I fully realize this is a massive undertaking and will require the combined efforts of several people over an extended period of time.... but if you are one of those that would be interested in joining forces to make it happen now is the time.


thanks,
-Brian
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Old 11-15-2012, 06:53 PM   #2
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I think trans routes can be interesting, but too often they take in a lot of less entertaining miles simply to have a trans route. Terrain and off highway opportunities vary widely and trying to force a long linear route doesn't always produce a consistently good product.

Personally, I like to see more loop routes of a thousand miles or so that allow people to stay consistently engaged and entertained. This also makes for convenient travel as you can start and end in the same place.

That being said, here are three long routes I put together that a northern trans route could traverse. In other words, the northern tier route could connect to some separate and distinct existing routes. One reason it is important for segments to be separate and distinct is that the custodians/authors of these separate and distinct rides are responsible to keep them up to date and make changes as access issues (MVUM, property changes) change. That is why I keep a single version of the current GPX files in a single location available for download (as does GLDS with Expedition Michigan). It prevents old or bad info from being distributed which can cause problems for the rider or our user group as a whole.

Keep in mind that the three routes I show are intended for smaller dual sports (although I have big bike go-arounds on the UPAT). Smaller dual sports might not be the bike of choice for a long trans route that ends up with long sections of road miles. Something other than road routes will be scarce in many areas. Maybe it is better to develop some large regional routes where there are opportunities to do so and skip the long dead stretches where there are not just to have a "trans trail".

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Northern Wisconsin Adventure Trail

Wisconsin-Michigan Adventure Trail



The Expedition Michigan stuff that GLDS puts out is great and between all of this stuff most of Michigan and Wisconsin are covered.

This is a connection between the NWAT and the Trans-MN AT. It runs on some decent ATV trails for a bit and then takes to a linear railroad grade trail that runs along a US highway. Kind of boring but it is gravel and off-road. Lots of stop signs along the trail as well. Runs into Superior and Duluth where it connects to the TMAT.


So this is what the paths are from the Mackinac Bridge to the TMAT at Duluth.


I sorted through my track files and put together this 700 mile segment that runs from the Mack Bridge to the Trans MN Trail in Duluth. I only show the track here but I have the waypoints to compliment it (gas, camping, POIs, etc). Aligning with the intent of the Backcountry Discovery Routes I only included segments that could be reasonably traversed by a loaded adventure bike. Felt bad to gut some nice segments intended for smaller bikes from some of the existing adventure trails, but it serves the trans trail concept. This first cut track is a scenic and entertaining ride that someone might enjoy on a big bike (650 and up). The existing Expedition Michigan tracks in the lower peninsula of Michigan would require a careful look to get a suitable path for adventure bikes as well. As it stands they are best for small-medium dual sports and have lots of challenges with sand. 2TrakR from GLDS would be a good source to develop a suitable path from that library of tracks.


Trans-Wisconsin/Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail (TWUPAT)


Download tracks here.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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I also prefer long loop routes. I have done the TAT and some of the CDR. I just don't like the idea of having to slab it home or making a 3000 - 5000 mile dirt loop.

Virtually all of my planning and riding has been in the southwest so is not of much use.

You should check out the Mobius Loop info. They seem to do a lot of nearly all dirt loop riding in the northwest. And tracks are available somewhere in the Laying Down Tracks threads.
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Old 11-16-2012, 04:53 PM   #4
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If you like long loops then help get a northern route. Take the TAT west and a north route back.

Are you looking for difficult roads/trails or forest road/two track? It is fairly easy to get from south Yellowstone or the Yellowstone West Gate to the western side of Idaho via two track/forest roads/BLM roads.

Idaho has a lot of long dual sport routes. East/west or north/south You could exit Idaho thru the Owyhee into Oregon or thru north Idaho around Lewiston into WA or north OR.

West gate to Dillon, Darby, Elk City, Lewiston. Lots of rugged forest and wilderness on this route. Tiny towns, gas is far apart.

South gate to Ashton and on to Arco (Craters of the Moon) into the Pahsimeroi Valley, Sun Valley area then south into the Owyhee or north to Riggins and Lewiston. CoM is definetly different and awsome scenery around Mt Borah.

Or head south out of Ashton toward Pocatello and pick up some of the Tour of Idaho route west. Some of TID is very rugged. Lots of desert and very remote.

Forest roads are available from Glacier into Idaho, also.
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cannonshot View Post
I think trans routes can be interesting, but too often they take in a lot of less entertaining miles simply to have a trans route. Terrain and off highway opportunities vary widely and trying to force a long linear route doesn't always produce a consistently good product.

Personally, I like to see more loop routes of a thousand miles or so that allow people to stay consistently engaged and entertained. This also makes for convenient travel as you can start and end in the same place.

That being said, here are three long routes I put together that a northern trans route could traverse. In other words, the northern tier route could connect to some separate and distinct existing routes. One reason it is important for segments to be separate and distinct is that the custodians/authors of these separate and distinct rides are responsible to keep them up to date and make changes as access issues (MVUM, property changes) change. That is why I keep a single version of the current GPX files in a single location available for download (as does GLDS with Expedition Michigan). It prevents old or bad info from being distributed which can cause problems for the rider or our user group as a whole.

Keep in mind that the three routes I show are intended for smaller dual sports (although I have big bike go-arounds on the UPAT). Smaller dual sports might not be the bike of choice for a long trans route that ends up with long sections of road miles. Something other than road routes will be scarce in many areas. Maybe it is better to develop some large regional routes where there are opportunities to do so and skip the long dead stretches where there are not just to have a "trans trail".

Upper Peninsula Adventure Trail

Northern Wisconsin Adventure Trail

Wisconsin-Michigan Adventure Trail


The Expedition Michigan stuff that GLDS puts out is great and between all of this stuff most of Michigan and Wisconsin are covered.

This is a connection between the NWAT and the Trans-MN AT. It runs on some decent ATV trails for a bit and then takes to a linear railroad grade trail that runs along a US highway. Kind of boring but it is gravel and off-road. Lots of stop signs along the trail as well. Runs into Superior and Duluth where it connects to the TMAT.

I sorted through my track files and put together this 700 mile segment that runs from the Mack Bridge to the Trans MN Trail in Duluth. I only show the track here but I have the waypoints to compliment it (gas, camping, POIs, etc). Aligning with the intent of the Backcountry Discovery Routes I only included segments that could be reasonably traversed by a loaded adventure bike. Felt bad to gut some nice segments intended for smaller bikes from some of the existing adventure trails, but it serves the trans trail concept. This first cut track is a scenic and entertaining ride that someone might enjoy on a big bike (650 and up). The existing Expedition Michigan tracks in the lower peninsula of Michigan would require a careful look to get a suitable path for adventure bikes as well. As it stands they are best for small-medium dual sports and have lots of challenges with sand. 2TrakR from GLDS would be a good source to develop a suitable path from that library of tracks.

Bryan - Many thanks for the input and all the info.

I agree that a "trans" route is generally less entertaining than a well thought out loop. For me the cross-country route would serve a different purpose than just "great" riding. The idea of traversing the entire country by connecting dirt roads/trails/etc would be an "event". Just riding from point A to point B via pavement gets old quickly.

Why not just do the TAT? I live in the North and the time invested in creating a route (or just super slabbing it) just to get to the "start" seems like wasted time.. to me anyway. (Not to say I wont ever "do the TAT".. Ive ridden most of it in TN and it was quite a bit of fun). Aside from the GREAT riding in the UP and what I imagine in WI.. I envision a route that leads thru the Black Hills, Badlands, up to Glacier (with any luck) across the Cascades to Seattle. Maybe dropping down from Seattle/Vancouver to pickup the TAT in reverse for a different route back??? (I know, who has that much time?). (I also have family in a few of the northern states so that helps )

As for the maintianing the route, my initial thought would be that if it was possible to find enough interested parties to put such a route together, that each contributor would be responsible for their portion.

From MI thru to Duluth is a GREAT start . I am going to hound my cousins in MN to try and scout out some options west of Duluth.

I know the idea is pie in the sky and possibly doomed to failure due... but why not try

Thanks again for the input
-Brian
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Old 11-18-2012, 05:37 PM   #6
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Quote:

If you like long loops then help get a northern route. Take the TAT west and a north route back.
Three cheers for that

Quote:
Are you looking for difficult roads/trails or forest road/two track? It is fairly easy to get from south Yellowstone or the Yellowstone West Gate to the western side of Idaho via two track/forest roads/BLM roads.

Idaho has a lot of long dual sport routes. East/west or north/south You could exit Idaho thru the Owyhee into Oregon or thru north Idaho around Lewiston into WA or north OR.

West gate to Dillon, Darby, Elk City, Lewiston. Lots of rugged forest and wilderness on this route. Tiny towns, gas is far apart.

South gate to Ashton and on to Arco (Craters of the Moon) into the Pahsimeroi Valley, Sun Valley area then south into the Owyhee or north to Riggins and Lewiston. CoM is definetly different and awsome scenery around Mt Borah.

Or head south out of Ashton toward Pocatello and pick up some of the Tour of Idaho route west. Some of TID is very rugged. Lots of desert and very remote.

Forest roads are available from Glacier into Idaho, also.
I think that a route that would be do-able by decent riders on larger bikes might be of more wide spread interest?? But then again, something that would keep the attention (often enough) of those seeking a more challanging route on Dual Sports. If it could be done, I might consider doing it on the Gear Up vs the DRZ.

Thanks for the suggestions above, I am going to take the next few months and see what I (along with a few others) can string together. With any luck, I will be out on it summer 2013 (assuming the world doesnt end in Dec).

-Brian
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Old 11-19-2012, 09:10 AM   #7
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Northern Route

I'm currently building just such a route.... it's called 'The Northern Route'.

Started about 3 years ago, released - for free - the section from western Washington state to Eureka MT (it's on GPXchange.com as 'Northern Route') in the fall of 2010. This piece connects the northern end of the Pacific Crest Quest and the northern end (in the US) of the Continental Divide Ride.

This summer I completed the section from central PA over to mid-Indiana... this connects the TPAT route to the northern end of the TWVT and continues westward. It will connect with what's coming next. It will be released for free as part of the TWVT stuff. (I work with Chip (IntoTheNew) on several different things).

This fall I've completed from Eureka MT to north central Iowa.. a little over 2000 miles. Ran out of weather and time, may be able to finish it this fall, if not then - this spring. This part may, or may not be free. Thinking about it. Really nice stuff along the way... and northern Nebraska was surprisingly nice.

This winter I'm completing 'The Southern Route' - connecting the bottom of the PCQ and CDR. Plan on working with DingWeeds on that one.

Oh, I also released for free this spring (with Sam's blessing) an extension of the TAT so you can start on the Atlantic... it's part of my TET-S.

So... with Chip's TET, my TET-s, Sam's TAT, the PCQ, my Northern Route you can do a coast to coast loop in the US.

When the Canadian guys get the Trans Canada Route done so can do the same kinda thing there too! Oh, Chip has an extension of the TET worked out to tie in with them.
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Old 11-19-2012, 05:23 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by NorthernTraveler View Post
I'm currently building just such a route.... it's called 'The Northern Route'.

Started about 3 years ago, released - for free - the section from western Washington state to Eureka MT (it's on GPXchange.com as 'Northern Route') in the fall of 2010. This piece connects the northern end of the Pacific Crest Quest and the northern end (in the US) of the Continental Divide Ride.

This summer I completed the section from central PA over to mid-Indiana... this connects the TPAT route to the northern end of the TWVT and continues westward. It will connect with what's coming next. It will be released for free as part of the TWVT stuff. (I work with Chip (IntoTheNew) on several different things).

This fall I've completed from Eureka MT to north central Iowa.. a little over 2000 miles. Ran out of weather and time, may be able to finish it this fall, if not then - this spring. This part may, or may not be free. Thinking about it. Really nice stuff along the way... and northern Nebraska was surprisingly nice.

This winter I'm completing 'The Southern Route' - connecting the bottom of the PCQ and CDR. Plan on working with DingWeeds on that one.

Oh, I also released for free this spring (with Sam's blessing) an extension of the TAT so you can start on the Atlantic... it's part of my TET-S.

So... with Chip's TET, my TET-s, Sam's TAT, the PCQ, my Northern Route you can do a coast to coast loop in the US.

When the Canadian guys get the Trans Canada Route done so can do the same kinda thing there too! Oh, Chip has an extension of the TET worked out to tie in with them.
Cool. Thanks for the info and all the work.

For me connecting the UP in Michigan is a must, just too much great riding too miss. But knowing there is already a route from the CDR to (nearly) the West end is great news. Is this portion "big bike friendly" or best suited to a true Dual Sport?

thanks,
-Brian
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Old 11-20-2012, 10:29 AM   #9
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This route was laid out and ridden with a DR650SE and a 'rat' Versys.

There are, in places, alternates available that are tougher or more interesting.

So yes, it should be big bike friendly.

I originally was going to cross the UP, but after looking over everything decided against it. If you are staying in the US (crossing into Canada adds a bunch of issues) then it's a pretty big jog... if you are building a long route you need to be getting somewhere, not going in circles. Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota looked like there would be possibilities, but then you have North Dakota. Good luck with that. Or, if you jog down into South Dakota you start running into Indian Reservations... and out west just forget about going into them (as a general rule).

So, if we skip Canada, we have to cross PA - possibilities, but western PA was tough (I tested 2 routes and Chip tested one).

Then we get to Ohio, good possibilities in the south, fair in the middle, tough in the north.

If you want to swing north up through Michigan at this point, your talking a detour of the final route of probably 2-3 days with tough going farther west.

I had looked tying into Cannonshot's great Lakes loop that he had posted earlier, and I have routes and tracks to do so from central Indiana to near Grand Rapids, MI and my stuff across Iowa will have a connector to tie into it in the SW corner of Wisconsin. Taking that alt adds around 4 days of traveling.

Going westward, Indiana doesn't have county maps on the web (most of the rest do) so you are flying blind as to what the road types are until you get there. I've tried emailing and even calling the individual counties to get maps, ain't happening.

Illinois looks like it'll have some interesting stuff.... historic sites, but not necessarily challenging riding.

Iowa has LOTS of farm land, but I did find some changes in terrain in the part that I've already ridden (western half along the northern side).

Westward from there I've gotten it finished... yeah, I do the Black Hills, some bad land areas but NOT the actually Bad Lands (you'll figure out why when you get out there) northern Wyoming, south central Montana, western Montana, northern Idaho, Washington state.

Good luck on doing what you want to do... it's not as easy as it looks. Be aware that most maps have errors, and the only way to know for sure where to go is to go ride it.
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Old 11-20-2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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This route was laid out and ridden with a DR650SE and a 'rat' Versys.

There are, in places, alternates available that are tougher or more interesting.

So yes, it should be big bike friendly.

I originally was going to cross the UP, but after looking over everything decided against it. If you are staying in the US (crossing into Canada adds a bunch of issues) then it's a pretty big jog... if you are building a long route you need to be getting somewhere, not going in circles. Northern Wisconsin and Minnesota looked like there would be possibilities, but then you have North Dakota. Good luck with that. Or, if you jog down into South Dakota you start running into Indian Reservations... and out west just forget about going into them (as a general rule).

So, if we skip Canada, we have to cross PA - possibilities, but western PA was tough (I tested 2 routes and Chip tested one).

Then we get to Ohio, good possibilities in the south, fair in the middle, tough in the north.

If you want to swing north up through Michigan at this point, your talking a detour of the final route of probably 2-3 days with tough going farther west.

I had looked tying into Cannonshot's great Lakes loop that he had posted earlier, and I have routes and tracks to do so from central Indiana to near Grand Rapids, MI and my stuff across Iowa will have a connector to tie into it in the SW corner of Wisconsin. Taking that alt adds around 4 days of traveling.

Going westward, Indiana doesn't have county maps on the web (most of the rest do) so you are flying blind as to what the road types are until you get there. I've tried emailing and even calling the individual counties to get maps, ain't happening.

Illinois looks like it'll have some interesting stuff.... historic sites, but not necessarily challenging riding.

Iowa has LOTS of farm land, but I did find some changes in terrain in the part that I've already ridden (western half along the northern side).

Westward from there I've gotten it finished... yeah, I do the Black Hills, some bad land areas but NOT the actually Bad Lands (you'll figure out why when you get out there) northern Wyoming, south central Montana, western Montana, northern Idaho, Washington state.

Good luck on doing what you want to do... it's not as easy as it looks. Be aware that most maps have errors, and the only way to know for sure where to go is to go ride it.
You make a great case illustrating the value of regional loop or linear rides that concentrate on quality riding opportunities. Even within a single state, trying to force a trans-route often ends up with some some less engaging and less entertaining segments that can make up a significant portion of the overall product.

Looks like the concept of backcountry discovery routes in the western states is working well. Appears like it will be workable to build loops out of a combination of linear trails from multiple states. Of course, there are more quality riding opportunities in some of those regions than a single state linear backcountry route can cover. Paths/sidetrips can and should vary depending on the rider's interests, preferences, and available time.

By the way, my thanks and appreciation to anyone that works hard to scout and document riding for others to consider. It truly does take a lot of effort and expense to build good products for others to enjoy. These products are good for the rider and for our recreational interest as a whole. As you say, it involves much more than people may realize or appreciate.
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:02 PM   #11
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I also prefer long loop routes. I have done the TAT and some of the CDR. I just don't like the idea of having to slab it home or making a 3000 - 5000 mile dirt loop..
That is what they make trucks and air planes for!
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:09 PM   #12
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Looks like the concept of backcountry discovery routes in the western states is working well. Appears like it will be workable to build loops out of a combination of linear trails from multiple states.
A very old concept (70s), read the history of California system on SMTS.info

Have you looked at my SMTS tracks for California and Nevada? All tracks go from gas to gas on fun 2-track jeep roads where possible. You can pick and choose segments and make as big a loop as you want.

The only high quality, point to point, border to border route that I know of is my Mex2Can.com

I am working on the Great Western Trail which is far better than CDR but not as good as M2C.
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Old 11-22-2012, 01:38 AM   #13
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A very old concept (70s), read the history of California system on SMTS.info
Most concepts related to recreation and travel are quite old Jerry, and I hope your comment is intended to be positive and complimentary of the work these folks are doing on that particular project. It is nice that they share their work for free in keeping with the spirit of sharing, mutual support, and benefit within the ADV community.

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Have you looked at my SMTS tracks for California and Nevada? All tracks go from gas to gas on fun 2-track jeep roads where possible. You can pick and choose segments and make as big a loop as you want.
No, but I'm not personally interested. I'm sure there are some great opportunities there for people to enjoy though. A club in Michigan does a great job with a similar concept. I'm sure some others do as well since it is such an elementary idea.

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The only high quality, point to point, border to border route that I know of is my Mex2Can.com
Post up a copy of the GPS file Jerry and we'll take a look at it and give you an opinion. (Always best to get a better look at a vendor's product instead of just accepting the salesman's evaluation.)

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I am working on the Great Western Trail which is far better than CDR but not as good as M2C.
The GWT looks like another great opportunity for people to enjoy using a wide variety of conveyances. Seems like a lot of folks have been very satisfied with the Great Divide Ride over the years, so the GWT will have big shoes to fill to be as good as you say it will be.
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:29 AM   #14
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That is what they make trucks and air planes for!
Planes and trucks are the problem. I try to avoid them at all costs on long DS/ADV trips.
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