How To Create Your Own Route

June 27, 2013

Photo by Seth W.

Though our 48,629-mile route network covers a lot of ground, there will be times when you want to ride somewhere in the U.S. we haven't mapped. Outside of doing an internet search on your proposed route, there are a few other tips I can offer that I hope will make your route creation process easier.

Of course, I heartily suggest you begin your process by perusing our route network. It is available as a pdf download or to view online interactively and though you may not use an entire route, mixing and matching a section here and there can speed up your research.

Every state Department of Transportation has a bicycle/pedestrian coordinator — even if they are not full time in this position, they will know the resources in their state better than anyone else. Nearly every state publishes a bicycle map of some sort they will send out for free. The coordinators or their state website often have more information available right there online or in print. And while the maps often aren't as detailed as ours, they generally offer suggested roads for cycling through their state. The Federal Highway Administration maintains a webpage of contact information for each state.

If there are urban areas you want to ride through, crowdsourced-type mapping solutions might be helpful in your planning. Two of the most popular are MapMyRide.com and RideWithGPS.com (free account required). You simply input your location or destination and you can see where local cyclists are riding to begin planning your route through the city.

Google maps is a resource worth looking into. Generally the feedback I've heard is it does better over short distances rather than one long route. When you arrive at the Get Directions page, enter your location and destination, click on the bicycle icon, then Get Directions to see their recommended routing.

These routes are based on data from the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, local and state bicycling organizations and agencies, as well as feedback from cyclists. Routes are generated by an algorithm that doesn't necessarily take all factors important to a touring cyclist into account so you will want to closely review their suggestions to ensure their routes are viable for you.

And finally, once you have a route pieced together, or you've found a sticky spot you just can't quite figure out, tap into the resources of our forums. Cyclists from all over the world who have cycled all over the world participate in these discussions and are quite willing to help you fine tune your route.

Photo from Seth Werkheiser's photostream on Flickr

GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from the Adventure Cycling Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.

 

Comments

Alexihycle26 May 26, 2019, 9:44 AM

Hey..

Anybody home???

Can't find any URL.

Tnx

alexey6955.Ceshy@163.com

Jennifer Hamelman May 28, 2019, 6:31 AM

Hi Alexihycle26,

I'm sorry you didn't find what you were looking for. All the links worked except the Google Maps one and I have now corrected it. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to ask.

John Nettles May 26, 2019, 2:14 PM

Alexihycle26,

First what URL are you speaking of and second this article is 5 years old so there very well may be a likelihood of a broken link. Maybe just me but you come off as quite a bit rude.

john September 14, 2017, 4:08 AM

The article neglected to mention Strava. the route planner has a tool called Heatmaps that show where areas are more frequently used by local cyclist.

Jennifer H Milyko September 14, 2017, 6:30 AM

John,

Thanks for the suggestion of Strava. In 2013 when this post was written, Strava wasn't as well known as it is today. It should be included in any updated post we create on the topic.

John Nettles July 24, 2017, 5:14 AM

Is there some master source of campgrounds, convenience stores, grocery stores, etc. or do you just google/search for them like I do when looking for a service? I know a LOT of websites exist about CGs but they tend to be very automated (not accurate) or have a lot of incomplete info, i.e. do they have showers, accept tents, etc.

Jennifer H Milyko September 7, 2017, 8:49 AM

Hi John,

I've been off on a summer cycling adventure and am just now getting back into the swing of things. I apologize for the delay in a response.

We don't know of any "master source" of this type of information. We get a first run of this info when a route is researched and then rely a lot on the internet and reports from cyclists or locals to confirm these things exist when doing updates.

Jennifer

StL John February 9, 2016, 8:26 AM

New member/new rider planning a trip from St. Louis to Lacrosse, WI. Would particularly like to take a NE route going through Iowa, and crossing the Mississippi at Prairie du Chien. Following the river on the Missouri-Iowa side might also be an option. Plan to do this fall '16 or '17 depending upon my conditioning. Route suggestions and or map resources?

Jennifer H Milyko February 9, 2016, 12:04 PM

Congrats on planning a trip! It's half the fun, right?

I highly recommend digging into the resources mentioned in the blog post above. Our interactive network map shows where we have mapped routes, the state Bike Pedestrian Coordinators have a wealth of information on their websites and checking in with cyclists via our forums is also very helpful.

Good luck and have a great trip!

Lisa Edwards October 2, 2013, 5:13 PM

Does anyone know how to load Google Bicycle routes to a Garmin? If so can you share how to do it. Thanks!

Jennifer Milyko October 3, 2013, 7:27 AM

Hi Lisa,

I don't know the answer to your question. However you might want to ask it on our Forums in the GPS Discussion: http://forums.adventurecycling.org/

Good luck!

Jennifer Milyko August 16, 2013, 1:46 PM

Thanks for chiming in, David. Those sound like good tips to try.

David Winyard August 9, 2013, 6:04 PM

First-cut bike routes can be generated using Topo USA or an old version of MS Streets and Trips. Invert the speeds for different roads (e.g. Interstates at 5 mph, streets at 15 mph) and calculate your route. Works well!

William(BillBilly) Boes August 6, 2013, 8:48 PM

I am a street stider enthusiast and I need flat sidewalks,not banked road shouldered/bike routes.I am planning(hopefully) a trip from Stuart,Florida to NYC.As I said I need a sidewalk route.Any suggestions?I was hoping that U.S. Federal highway #1(Maine-Florida) would have "some" of its length accompanied by sidewalk(s).But I can't really plan a trip with incomplete,critical information.Please anyone who reads this comment and has a decent suggestion please let me know.You can inform me of anything that might be relevant to achieving what I have just described.I know I can do this and this new HPV certainly needs to show its stuff to an as Yet unknowing populace.Thank you for your assistance.I can't wait to do this.

Jennifer Milyko August 16, 2013, 1:46 PM

Hi William,

Unfortunately, we don't track information like sidewalks for our routes. You might check with the individual states you want to ride in and see if they have that information. Contact information can be found here:

http://www.walkinginfo.org/assistance/contacts.cfm

Jim Brunette June 28, 2013, 5:44 PM

Interested in your newsletter.

Jennifer Milyko July 10, 2013, 2:34 PM

Jim,

I'm not sure what newsletter you are referring to. Bike Bits perhaps? You can sign up for that on our website: http://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/bike-bits/

Best,

.Jennifer.

David June 28, 2013, 12:05 AM

Hey just noticed that a few nice long bike routes in B.C. are missing from your pdf. I am thinking of the KVR/Transcan trail that goes across the entire province.

Jennifer Milyko July 10, 2013, 2:30 PM

Hi David,

Thanks for noticing! Unfortunately, you are correct, we haven't mapped those trails across B.C. Feel free to send me more information about your suggestion.

Best,

.Jennifer.

Kevin June 27, 2013, 12:51 PM

Google Maps are especially helpful in urban areas with lots of intersections. It's easy to get off-route, and Google Maps will figure out where you are and how to get where you are going.

Think of it as a tactical weapon, not a strategic one.

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