May 18, 2017 - Jennifer Milyko is Adventure Cycling's Routes & Mapping Assistant Director.
This week Adventure Cycling cartographers happily announce the release of the latest route in the Adventure Cycling Route Network: Chicago to New York City Bicycle Route (CNYC). With this new addition, our Route Network now measures 46,846 miles and provides a fourth way to cross the United States when combined with Bicycle Route 66 from Santa Monica to Chicago.
When we began researching this route in 2014, we considered our options. It seemed a given we’d want to include big cities like Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, as well as Columbus, the hometown of our founders. But questions arose when we looked to build the route eastward from Pittsburgh.
Do we go directly across Pennsylvania using BicyclePA Route V? Or what about utilizing the unpaved Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O Canal trails to the south? Which one would be more popular with cyclists? Is there any reason we shouldn’t do both?
BicyclePA Route V feels like a more direct route, without many turns or diversions for the cyclist on a schedule to reach New York City. But the challenge of that routing lies in getting across the Allegheny Mountains with many short, steep hills.
On the other hand, the GAP and C&O rail trails have a maximum, train-friendly grade of only 1.5% over 235 miles. These trails are unpaved, however, and can get messy or slick in rainy conditions, keeping top speeds and daily average miles lower and more suited to the cyclist with some time on their hands.
Honestly, we wanted to please both the speedy and the meandering cyclist, so in the end, we opted to do both options. The Main Route follows a more northerly course across Pennsylvania, entering New York City from the north, while the Chicago to New York City Philadelphia Alternate follows the aforementioned popular off-road trails for nearly half its distance and approaches the city via the Jersey Shore and a short ferry ride.
Cyclists in a hurry and looking for the “shortest route” may see the main route as only a measly 12.6 miles less than the alternate route. But once you factor in the fact that the main route is entirely paved, it will clearly be the faster, “shortest” choice.
Overall, this is a trail-rich route using 30 trails over six states. In addition, some of the routing is shared with U.S. Bicycle Routes 35 and 50 in Indiana and Ohio. We also took advantage of the long-established BicyclePA Routes V, S, and J, as well as New York State Bicycle Route 9.
This route, in conjunction with Bicycle Route 66, provides a way to bicycle from Los Angeles to New York City via Chicago, a route cyclists have requested.
Alternatively, by combining CNYC Sections 3 and 4 with both sections of the CNYC Philadelphia Alternate, an interesting 1,025-mile loop is formed.
In general, Amtrak service is abundant on much of the entire route including connections in Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and New York City. Think of those options!
The Adventure Cycling cartographers and everyone on staff at Adventure Cycling are pleased to share this exciting new route. If you are a Twitter user and want to share or learn from others via tweet, please include the hashtag #acaChi2NYC.
Photo 1 Saara Snow | Photo 2 courtesy of Camp Chase Trail | Photo 3 Michele Hedrick
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer ‘Jenn’ Hamelman, Routes & Mapping Assistant Director, and appears once a month, 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.