UGRR: North to Niagara
Explore America’s legendary route to freedom on our incredible Underground Railroad tour. We’ll be immersed in history as we ride from the Deep South to Niagara Falls through the landscapes and communities that provided shelter and aid to freedom seekers.
The route begins in Mobile, winding north through Alabama’s Tombigbee River valley with its massive black gum forests, bald cypress swamps, and wildlife refuges. We’ll ride through the Tennessee River valley, pass many Civil War sites, traverse the scenic Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, and cross the Ohio River. In Cincinnati, we’ll visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, which highlights some of the personal stories of freedom seekers. Finally we’ll head to Buffalo and finish the tour with an unloaded ride to the Canadian border to end this tremendous tour at thundering Niagara Falls.
“The most fun I’ve had in my adult life!”
Week 1. Mobile, Alabama, to Columbus, Mississippi
After dipping our wheels in Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, we begin our 40-day journey north toward Niagara Falls, New York. We have an easy ride through 300 years of history as we cycle past the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park and Fort Blakely, the site of the last major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Blakely, in which nine regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops fought.
Week 2. Columbus to Waverly, Tennessee
We continue cycling north through the Tombigbee River valley, with its massive black gum forests, bald cypress swamps, and wildlife refuges teeming with bird and animal life. As we pedal through the Deep South, we can envision the environmental conditions endured by freedom seekers on their treks north and appreciate the various acts of kindness that “conductors” on the Underground Railroad provided freedom seekers, including food, clothing, housing, and safe passage to the next station. We’ll also visit the Shiloh National Military Park and learn about the Battle of Shiloh, a very important turning point in the Civil War.
Week 3. Waverly to Corydon, Illinois
Continuing north, the route follows the Tennessee River valley, where you can visit Civil War sites such as Fort Donelson National Battlefield. This unit of the National Park System memorializes the first major Civil War battle won by the Union Army. A number of escaped slaves gained asylum at the fort during the war, and some of them stayed on to work as laborers for the U.S. Army. From Fort Donelson, you’ll ride north through the scenic Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, comprising Kentucky Lake (the dammed Tennessee River) and Lake Barkley (the Cumberland River).
Week 4. Corydon to Cincinnati, Ohio
After joining up with the Ohio River valley, we’ll meander between Kentucky and Indiana, where you’ll find a growing number of historic sites and museum exhibits honoring those associated with the Underground Railroad.
Week 5. Cincinnati to Oberlin, Ohio
In Cincinnati we’ll visit the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House during our rest day. Later, after enjoying a portion of the Little Miami Scenic Rail Trail, we’ll take in the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center at Wilberforce. Along the way, we’ll also visit cemeteries where notable abolitionists and freedom seekers are interred. We will then spin through Amish country, where some 40,000 Amish live amid the rolling hills of five Ohio counties. The countryside is hilly, pastoral, and embellished with an abundance of rivers, creeks, and lakes.
Week 6. Oberlin to Buffalo, New York
We begin the week with a rest day in Oberlin. Oberlin is a pleasant town with much history and a beautiful college campus. We’ll want to spend some time exploring its Heritage Center, numerous safe houses, and Oberlin College, the first college in the U.S. to admit African American students. As we leave Oberlin, we begin the last leg of our North Star journey, riding through northern Ohio and the town of Ashtabula, home to the Hubbard House Underground Railroad Museum. We’ll touch Pennsylvania as we skirt along the shore of Lake Erie into New York, then head northeast to Buffalo. On our final day together, we’ll leave our gear in Buffalo to ride the final miles unloaded. We’ll end at the thundering Niagara Falls before catching a shuttle back to Buffalo.