How many take trips to distant destinations for the sole purpose of riding new and different trails? Many of us ride on a regular basis near our homes, but then, it is a diferent and great experience to travel to a destination specifically to ride trails in other areas of the country. My wife and I have made several “destination” trips and have enjoyed the experiences immeasurably. Each such trip has also been a learning experience from which we then become better prepared for future trips. This an envitation to any and all that would share your experiences, good or bad, for the interest of us all.
Some of the lessons we’ve learned:
1 ) Research the normal temperature ranges of your planned destination. Last summer we traveled to Iowa, combining an eagle watching excursion along with riding the Trout Run Trail that encircles Decorah, Iowa. After nearly doing myself in from heat stroke, riding in 90 degree temps and 90 percent humidity, :-( , I now am more careful in my awareness of the temperature norms for the time of year at the given destination.
2 ) Research the condition of the trails you expect to ride. We’ve learned to avoid trails that allow ATVs, dirt bikes, and even horses. The Hancock to Calumet Trail in the upper peninsula of Michigan is a good example. While a small portion near Hancock is paved, the remainder is nearly impassable gravel because it is ripped terribly by ATVs and dirt bikes. In the lower peninsula, the portion of the Pere Marquette Trail between Reed City and Baldwin is a crushed stone surface but allows horses making for a very “pitted” bumpy ride. Understand that I am not complaining about ATVs, dirt bikes, or horses. They need their places to ride also. I just avoid those areas.
3 ) We’ve learned to also research the elevations of the different towns on any given trail we will be riding. Our preference to to begin our outbound portion of any ride on an incline with the return to the vehicle to be on the decline. :-)
Some of our great experiences:
1 ) Silver Comet Trial in Georgia connecting with The Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama. This trail is ninety eight miles of concrete winding through the southern reaches of the Appalachian Mountain Range. This trail has be come a favorite of ours with two trips last winter first at Thanksgiving and then again the week between Christmas and New Years. We have another planned this Christmas to New Years.
2 ) Iron Ore Heritage Trail running from Marquette Michigan west to the town of Republic. This trail features a several mile 3% incline climbing west from Marquette with several historical information murals and iron ore mining artifacts along the route. It is hard work on the westbound ride, but, sheer delight on the return run. :-) If you have the opportunity to explore this trail don’t miss collecting a handful of taconite pellets that fall from the iron ore trains as they pass over the trail about nine miles west of Marquette. We have made two trips to Marquette in August each of the two past summers.
It would be enjoyable to hear some of the experiences of others regarding destination trails and/or groups of trail in a given area.
Secondly, we are beginning the research on several trails in the southeast portion of Minnesota for a trip next April. Our initial research on Traillink.com looks like there are at least a dozen different trails of interest within an hour and a half of Rochester Minnesota. Have any of you had any experience in that area that you would care to pass along.
As an alternative, we have also considered a trip to Pennsylvania to ride the Great Allegheny Passage. Any pertinent informational experience regarding that trail would be appreciated.