Anticipated USBR Designations: Coast to Coast

May 27, 2014

On Wednesday the 28th in Louisville, Kentucky, a meeting will take place that will draw new lines on the map, expand the frontier of cycling destinations, and move mountains. Well, maybe not that last part, but still, it's big.

This is the spring meeting for U.S. Bicycle Route designations, when the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) looks at applications that have been sent in from state transportation agencies and marks their stamp of approval. For our posts this week, we will be exploring the U.S. Bicycle Routes that have been submitted for approval in four states, including Washington, Illinois, Ohio, and Massachusetts, as well as the District of Columbia.

Today we'll be focusing on the coastal states — Washington State, DC, and our surprise state, Massachusetts — and learning more about the exciting attractions on the USBRs coming soon to their backyards. 

Washington Bikes volunteer John Pope on USBR 10 in Anacortes, WA

U.S. Bicycle Route 10 in Washington State

U.S. Bicycle Route 10 will be Washington State’s first designated route in the U.S. Bicycle Route System. The route follows Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier bicycle route along the North Cross-State Highway corridor, SR20, from Newport, Washington, at the Idaho border, to Anacortes, Washington’s international ferry terminal. USBR 10 will eventually connect all of the Northern Tier states, and will link Washington State to Maine.

USBR 10 is one of the most mountainous and scenic interstate bicycle routes in Washington. The cycling tourist will be inspired and challenged by the scenic alpine climb over Rainy and Washington Passes in North Cascade National Park (considered America’s Alps). USBR 10 also summits Loup Loup Pass near Twisp, scales the Okanogan Highlands at Wauconda and crests the Kettle range at 5,575’ Sherman Pass. It follows the Skagit, Methow and Okanogan Rivers, crosses the Columbia River at Kettle Falls and winds along the beautiful Pend Oreille River from Lone to Newport. 

The USBRS effort in Washington State is being coordinated by Washington Bikes (formerly known as the Bicycle Alliance of Washington) in partnership with Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). WA Bikes and WSDOT will continue to support this route with travel tips and information. They will work towards future signage and are planning to start the nomination process for other significant route corridors in the state. 

Cyclists enjoy a ride along the C&O Canal that will be designated as USBR 50 in DC.

U.S. Bicycle Route 50 in Washington, DC

The District of Columbia will soon join the USBRS with the designation of U.S. Bicycle Route 50 along the Chesapeake & Ohio (C&O) Canal National Historical Park. Located on the north bank of the Potomac River, the 184.5-mile canal towpath originates in DC, then crosses Maryland to Cumberland, where it connects with the Great Allegheny Passage Trail. DC's portion of the C&O Canal will connect to the already designated portion in Maryland. It is an important link to our nation's capitol, and the route will eventually connect DC to San Francisco. 

The canal became a National Historical Park in 1971. Today, much of the canal has been drained of water and reclaimed by the forest, however the canal's towpath remains a favorite of hikers, joggers, and bicyclists. There are many opportunities to engage with early American history along the route. The DC portion of USBR 50 begins in the Georgetown area, next to the Rock Creek Parkway. There are many shops, a series of lift locks, and barge rides during the summer. 

The Canal Towns Partnership is a partnership of nine communities along the C&O Canal that work to promote  the trail and attract tourism and economic growth opportunities, while encouraging an active lifestyle for residents and visitors. “The Canal Towns Partnership would like to offer our support for the designation of U.S. Bicycle Route 50 through our communities,” said Lois Turco, chair of the Canal Towns Partnership. “We recognize that bicycle tourism is a growing industry in North America, contributing $47 billion a year to the economies of communities that provide facilities for such tourists. The Canal Towns Partnership stands to benefit from this opportunity both economically and in terms of the health and environmental benefits related to encouraging bicycle travel in our region.”

Cyclists cross the Saugus River on the Northern Strand Commmunity Trail in MA, soon to be USBR 1.

U.S. Bicycle Route 1 in Massachusetts

Our Travel Initiatives team was surprised and excited to hear that the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) applied for designation of a segment of U.S. Bicycle Route 1, along the Atlantic coast. The Massachusetts segment of USBR 1 includes some of the most scenic urban and natural scenery in the state and traverses riverfront paths and rail trails in eastern Massachusetts, connecting major cities and recreational attractions. The route currently comprises the Paul Dudley White Bicycle Path along the Charles River through Boston, Cambridge, Watertown, and Newton, along with the Northern Strand Community Trail to the north of Boston. Many historical and scenic landmarks along the path offer bicyclists an opportunity to learn and explore.

“U.S. Bicycle Route 1 in Massachusetts is steeped in history, culture, and beauty, as one would expect from this Commonwealth that has played such a key role in the American story,” noted Ned Codd, Assistant Secretary for GreenDOT at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). “This designation is a great way to put Massachusetts’ path network on the national map, and connect our healthy transportation network with those of other states.”

The 2008 Massachusetts Bicycle Transportation Plan serves as the blueprint for establishing this segment of USBR 1. Massachusetts is actively pursuing further trail funding and construction for the other planned trail segments.

First photo by Michele Pope; second photo by Laurel Hamilton; third photo by MassDOT.

The 2014 BUILD IT. BIKE IT. BE A PART OF IT. campaign runs through May 31, 2014. All donations are tax deductible and support Adventure Cycling's organizing efforts and technical assistance for the U.S. Bicycle Route System. The campaign is supported by Adventure Cycling members, bicycle industry partners, bicycle clubs, and cyclists across North America.

The 2014 Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. campaign is sponsored by Planet Bike, Primal Wear, Ortlieb USA, Bike Tours Direct, Sun Bicycles, and Team Estrogen. Bicycle club sponsors are Almaden Cycle Touring Club and Cascade Bicycle Club. In-kind sponsors include Beer & Bike Tours, Bike2Power, BikeFlights, Bike Touring News, Cygolite, Detours, Growler Cage, Nutcase, Ortlieb USA, OspreyPark Tool, Primal Wear, RaleighThunder Island Brewing, and Velo Orange.

The U.S. Bicycle Route System is supported in part by grants from the the Lazar Foundation, New Belgium Brewing, Climate Ride, and the Tawani Foundation.

*No purchase necessary to enter any featured sweepstakes offered during the Build It. Bike It. Be a Part of It. campaign. To enter any USBRS campaign sweepstakes, send an email to with full name, address, phone, and email address by the cut off date (listed on the blog post featuring that day's sweepstakes) at 5pm MDT. Winners are selected by random drawing. Winners agree to release their name for public disclosure and promotion of sweepstakes on Adventure Cycling's blog and other communications outlets. 


Froggie May 28, 2014, 1:05 PM

A bit surprised that DC isn't also designating USBR 1...

Robert stowell May 28, 2014, 9:27 AM

I live in Washington State and ride all over, but i live in the lower part Walla Walla, WA. area where the Louis and Clark trail goes though. I am also a Warm showers Host. We have see so many riders coming over Lolo pass to the west coast it is to bad that hwy 12 and state route 14 were not put on that plan. I do not know the amount of riders on the north side but there are enough riders though this area to think about it.

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