Mississippi River Trail Project

Discussion in 'GPS Tracks - Central, Texas & Gulf States' started by Jamie Z, May 18, 2009.

  1. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    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.

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]
    (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/showpost.php?p=11580251&postcount=23
    Iowa:
    Illinois: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=17167278&postcount=71
    Missouri: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13384864&postcount=31
    Kentucky: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=9850320&postcount=3
    Tennessee: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13384847&postcount=30
    Arkansas: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10456148&postcount=15
    Mississippi Alternate: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=21685043&postcount=94
    Mississippi: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=10461935&postcount=17
    Louisiana:http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=21811096&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
    #1
  2. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    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 <http://www.mississippirivertrail.org/index.html> 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.

    [​IMG]

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

    [​IMG]

    The signs are sometimes poorly maintained.

    [​IMG]

    And you can't even see this one.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a view from the back.

    [​IMG]

    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
    #2
  3. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    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.

    [​IMG]

    [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.]

    Jamie

    Attached Files:

    #3
  4. RocketMan

    RocketMan Out Rocketing

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Oddometer:
    840
    Location:
    Woodbridge VA
    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
    #4
  5. alma1992

    alma1992 Jaded AND Cynical!

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    Not where I wanna be!
    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!:clap
    #5
  6. alma1992

    alma1992 Jaded AND Cynical!

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    Not where I wanna be!
    #6
  7. dlh62c

    dlh62c Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,603
    #7
  8. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    Unfortunately, I think Illinois may be the best-maintained portion of the MRT.

    Illinois is a long state. I can't expect someone to route the whole thing. Whatever parts you can route are good with me.

    The easiest way, in my opinion, is to travel the route and make a GPS waypoint at any significant points. A good rule of thumb is to mark all the MRT signs. Occasionally though, you'll find corners which aren't signed. In those cases, a waypoint at that corner, even without a sign, is appropriate. Just be doubly sure that the MRT does, in fact, go that way.

    In other cases, you might find numerous MRT signs on a relatively short stretch of road. In those cases, it's not necessary to mark every sign.

    If you send me a GPX of all the marks, eventually I can put together a route of the entire state, given contributions by other people.

    Great!

    In my opinion, the only sure way to map the route is by riding it. As I mentioned in the first post, I've found a handful of discrepancies between the description of the route online and what I've found on the road.

    On the other hand, if someone has already done the legwork and posted a route online, and it looks reputable, I have no problem using that information.

    The easiest way for everyone involved, I think, is to send a GPX of the waypoints along the route. Just mark all the turns. From there it should be a simple task of putting them all together in order in a route. That makes it a easy to combine waypoints from a couple different contributors.

    Thanks for the effort, guys! I've got Tennessee nearly complete, I just have to put it all together.

    Jamie
    #8
  9. dlh62c

    dlh62c Long timer

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,603
    Jamie

    I got the Missouri MRT route in the GPS, but havn't ridden it yet. I'm not sure when it will happen.

    daryl
    #9
  10. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    Daryl,

    Great! Can you send me the file? We can post a preliminary Missouri route until the time that the route can be verified.

    Jamie
    #10
  11. lonerockz

    lonerockz Permanent n00b

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2008
    Oddometer:
    715
    Location:
    Minneapolis, MN - No more... SF Bay now.
    Here is a link for the Minnesota map. I will do some riding of up and post my tracks as I do. Wont get out of the cities much till later in the year though. Got other things on my do do list!

    Whoa! Found a much better map for the TC metro area!
    #11
  12. jallen

    jallen Noobish.

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    St Louis
    I live in SE Missouri... about a hour and half from the Mississippi.. Very interested in helping out when I can.. I'm still a newbie with my first bike, but I've already got my trusty backpacking GPS mounted.... I'm glad to find this forum section (GPS Tracks Central).. good stuff...

    *subscribed*
    #12
  13. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    This upcoming week, July 21, 22, and 23, I plan to ride and route the Arkansas and Mississippi portions of the MRT.

    Anyone in those areas up for a day ride?

    Jamie
    #13
  14. alma1992

    alma1992 Jaded AND Cynical!

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    Not where I wanna be!
    Not enough time this week to tag along. I have mapped the route from Pleasant Hill to Alton, IL. 20 miles of the route from Pere Marquette State Park to Alton is an actual bike path that parallels the Great River Rd. Once I actually ride the route on the Moto, I'll post the track to ensure accuracy. Enjoy the trip!

    Steve

    http://i628.photobucket.com/albums/uu2/alma1992advrider/013.jpg
    #14
  15. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    The Arkansas portion is complete. Goes from Memphis to Helena, where it crosses into Mississippi.

    [​IMG]

    It's possible to go skip the Arkansas section by utilizing the Mississippi Alternate route I've mapped out. See here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showpost.php?p=21685043&postcount=94

    [edit June 19, 2013: Version 3 of the route (hopefully) fixes a couple of weird issues I've had with via points disappearing.]

    Jamie

    Attached Files:

    #15
  16. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,889
    Location:
    Denver, more or less.
    Mississippi is complete. Finding the route the Vicksburg was a several-hour maze.

    [​IMG]

    Version 3 is now official. Mississippi gets an A+ from me. All the MRT signs have been replaced as of a few months ago, and the route was altered slightly, namely a little jog before Greenville, and an extra block in Vicksburg. I've added those corrections here and tried to fix the weird issue I have with disappearing via points I have with a couple of my GPS units.

    Jamie

    Attached Files:

    #16
  17. jallen

    jallen Noobish.

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    122
    Location:
    St Louis
    I just imported them into Google Earth.. Looks really cool! Thank you for your generosity! I'm not sure when I'll be able to go into Mississippi... but I still appreciate your efforts!
    #17
  18. Zecatfish

    Zecatfish XTique Rider

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    7,927
    Location:
    Arkansas USA
    I drove part of it yesterday. South Central Mississippi coming down Highway 1 south of Greenville Ms. I seen the MRT signs and thought your thread Jamie.
    #18
  19. ArkPaddler

    ArkPaddler ArkPaddler

    Joined:
    May 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Lavaca, Ar
    #19
  20. will547_us

    will547_us LostinTexas

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I'm planning a trip from St.Louis to Texas via the MRT and I found this book, Bicycling Guide to the Mississippi River Trail, just last night and I e-mailed Bob Robinson the author and got a helpful reply this AM.

    I've been a lurker turned inmate and I'm happy to say this is the best motorcycling forum I've encountered. This thread about the MRT is great, keep it coming!

    Thanks, Will
    #20