Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail

January 14, 2016

Carefree Jenna Lyons

Montana offers a palette of travel opportunities for the adventurous among us, and, while the mountainous regions of the western part of the Treasure State hog most of the limelight (and there are myriad reasons why it should), if you just scratch the surface of the fourth largest state in the Union, countless other less prominent opportunities abound. Yes, Glacier National Park in the northwest is without a doubt spectacular, Yellowstone to the southwest exhalted, and the wilderness areas in between, including the renowned Bob Marshall, invitingly untamed, but the central portion of the state seems to be without a main attraction. But, as stated on the region's Tourism website (centralmontana.com): "Central Montana bridges the gap between mountains and rolling prairies — with orb-stretching big sky in-between." And it's what's in between that we who visit this place so often find sublime.

The first time I rode a portion of the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail, I napped undisturbed for 45 minutes by the side of Highway 80 under the watchful gaze of Square Butte and within striking distance of the Highwood Mountains (By the side of the highway — undisturbed! Can you imagine?) The Highwoods are in island range, one of several in central Montana, including the Crazy and Big Snowy mountains. These mountain ranges are entirely surrounded by a "sea" of prairie and, because of their isolation from other ranges and sub-ranges, harbor species and sub-species of flora and fauna found nowhere else.

It’s in the midst of this hybrid environment that Adventure Cycling Association's Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail meanders. For this two-day tour, I took along Jenna Lyons, an extremely strong rider and mountain bike racer. She was excited to begin her first tour and I couldn't think of a better place to introduce her to traveling by bicycle, so we headed to our starting point of Winnett, Montana, a small town that teeters between the true prairie of the eastern part of the state and the bread basket where spring wheat and cattle reign supreme.

We hit the road bright and early, not my favorite thing to do when traveling by bike, but a must stop at the Square Butte Bar and Country Club for lunch was a must and Geraldine, a stop on the old Milwaukee Road railroad line named after William Rockefeller's wife Almira Geraldine, would also require a visit, particularly to the old Geraldine Depot. By the time we reached Fort Benton, it was dusk and the skies were ablaze, casting shadows that made even the ever-present monolithic haystacks seem interesting.

Scenes from the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail 

The Lewis and Clark Corps of Discovery paused their canoes here and an impressive statue of the two intrepid captains along with Sacagawea and her infant son is perched overlooking the Missouri River. The place is dense with history of the American West and placards that line the mighty river's public walk lead the reader through that mythic period of time that many of us still think we long for. 

The geography of this part of America hasn't changed all that much since the Corps of Discovery passed through. If you haven't visited a place such as this before, you should consider seeing it from the saddle of your bicycle. Unlike Lewis and Clark, you'll have the benefit of using Adventure Cycling's maps, so there’s no excuse not to load up and hit the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail.

We hope you enjoy this latest video from our Adventure Cycling Montana Film Series. Follow this link to find inspiring videos featuring two other routes in the Adventure Cycling Route Network: the TransAmerica Trail and the Northern Tier.

 

 

We'll be giving away two complete Lewis & Clark Trail map sets this week. For a chance to win a mapset, simply comment on this blog post and tell us why you are excited about the Lewis and Clark Trail or share with us any adventures you've already had on this historic path.  We'll draw two winners at random on Friday, January 29. The winners will be contacted via email. 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos by Mick Faherty

This post was written by Michael Deme, Producer of the Adventure Cycling Montana series.

 

Comments

Dave Howell January 23, 2017, 12:53 PM

I rode the Northern Tier two summers ago and enjoyed the journey over the North Cascades and Rockies in preparation for the Great Planes. I hope to ride the Lewis and Clark Trail route this upcoming summer to have a similar, yet different, experience.

Richard Radcliffe July 8, 2016, 10:09 AM

My number one hero as a kid was Thor Heyerdahl. Number two and three (or three and two): Lewis and Clark. To cycle their route would be outrageous!

Delinda Hood January 29, 2016, 10:11 AM

Looks like such an amazing route. The open roads and charm of the small towns look oh so welcoming.

Julie Olson January 27, 2016, 11:58 AM

I am just getting into adventure cycling and have my first trip in just two weeks. I've been planning where to go next. I would love to ride part of the lewis and Clark trail this year as I am also celebrating my own 40th birthday. I'd love to win the maps (early bday gift?)

scot m. carlile January 26, 2016, 7:14 PM

I will be 50 soon and I am wanting to attempt to peddle all 50 states to celebrate my life and love of cycling. I would love to peddle every inch of the Lewis and Clark Trail!! I hope I win so my journey starts off on a high note!! Thank you..

Anne Quinlan January 25, 2016, 7:58 AM

After seeing this scenery Montana & Lewis & Clark are on my bucket list!

Gary Chaney January 24, 2016, 4:43 PM

I was fortunate enough to have hopped onto a part of the Lewis and Clark Bicycle Trail Route when I joined my two daughters on a portion of their ride from Texas to Canada in 2014. I think I'd have to consider a new bike if I were to tackle the entire route -- I'm not really set up for gravel roads. But from what I've seen of Montana, I think it would be worth it.

Carol Fleck January 24, 2016, 4:42 PM

I've ridden the eastern section of the Lewis and Clark Trail from Missoula to Seaside OR, but it looks like the eastern part is worthy of a ride also! Thanks for the video and all that you do.

Fred Stanton January 24, 2016, 10:30 AM

The weather and the scenery in the video was good. I am looking forward to riding across Montana in the near future.

matthew H January 23, 2016, 7:50 PM

I appreciated the video and have added Montana to my ride list. I hope to win the maps. Thanks Adventure cycling for a great video and maps.

Susan Fridsma January 22, 2016, 6:13 PM

I enjoyed the video. I have ridden in other parts of Montana and did the western portion of the Northern Tier, ending in Whitefish. Besides trying to complete the Northern Tier to the eastern terminus, this Lewis and Clark route looks like a great ride as well. Of course there are so many bike routes that I want to ride!

Dave January 22, 2016, 11:34 AM

I have 4 kids. When each was in 4th grade, their class did a musical production of the historic Lewis & Clark expedition. I would love to ride with them along this historic route.

ron January 22, 2016, 9:33 AM

love to ride that route nice vid need new route to ride

Bill Reinke January 22, 2016, 9:13 AM

The Lewis & Clark chapter of American history has captured my imagination ever since I read Undaunted Courage. Three years ago, my father and his wife went on an elderhostel bus trip along the route. Unfortunately, after 85 years and 103 countries (many on bicycle), that was to be his last trip. He was hospitalized in South Dakota with what was initially diagnosed as pneumonia, but was eventually identified as lymphoma. After a 14 month battle with the caner, he finally passed away. Given all that history, experiencing the Lewis & Clark Trail by bicycle with my family is right at the top of my bucket list.

Erik Browne January 21, 2016, 4:15 PM

What a great way to some of our beautiful back roads in this great state. I look forward to watching the film with my family.

Elle Steele January 21, 2016, 3:45 PM

My goal is to take my kids on a year long adventure when they're 11 and 9. "Road Schooling" around the country (maybe farther), the Underground Railroad and Lewis & Clark trails are two of the routes we plan to explore.

Cynthia Alvarez January 21, 2016, 3:25 PM

Last summer was my first bicycle tour. 3 weeks from Bend Oregon to Bozeman MT after retiring. The sections of the Lewis & Clark Trail only made me want for more. Having grown up in Oregon, I was highly aware of it's importance. My grade school was named Meriwether Lewis. My father was born in N. Dakota. I have never traveled east of Bozeman. It is my destiny to follow the whole trail, and catch up with my roots.

Roger Gattis January 21, 2016, 3:06 PM

Since visiting Norton Hill I have a new admiration for this age of discovery. Riding the Katy Trail has nurtured this enthusiasm, and to be a part of the history on the Lewis & Clark Trail will be an American dream come true.

Rick Germain January 21, 2016, 3:05 PM

I'm interested as I married a Clark descendant. My wife informs me that her eighth grade project she did a trace of her ancestors that led directly back to Wm. Clark.

Steven Richards January 21, 2016, 2:30 PM

Nice film. I think the production quality has improved with each one. Only one question... Hey Mike, how come you ended up riding fully loaded and your riding partner got to breeze along on her go-fast bike??

Jordan Bradley January 21, 2016, 10:08 AM

We drove part of the trail this Summer, visited Fort Clatsup, and got to see some of the area by Kayak. I would love to take a Summer off and do this ride and experience the country at a much slower pace.

John Vogler January 21, 2016, 9:59 AM

One can ride across the country in segments, beginning again where you left off. I did the Southern Tier this way over a three year period and it worked out great! The Lewis & Clark ride looks fantastic.

Denise Carrera January 21, 2016, 9:51 AM

My ancestor is John Clark! I hope to get up to Montana and ride part of the trail with my sons this summer.

Tom Swanson January 21, 2016, 9:45 AM

Great Video. I rode Port Angeles, WA to Havre, MT last summer and skipped ahead via Amtrak to Fargo - The Northern Tire route on US Hwy 2 is a death trap and not recommended due to narrow shoulders, high speed traffic and rumble strips. The L&C route looks safer and more scenic. nice work!

Marilyn Courrier January 20, 2016, 10:08 PM

My retirement gift last May was a touring bike that I would love to put a few miles on. Even if I ride the Lewis and Clark Trail in sections, I will love discovering what I can accomplish on this bike. I also appreciate the hardships and discoveries that Lewis and Clark experienced.

Louis Melini January 20, 2016, 6:20 PM

The film depicted the beauty of the Lewis and Clark Trail reinforcing why that trail is on the bucket list.

Randy Bard January 20, 2016, 3:57 PM

Bought the book for this ride several years ago; hope to connect it to the Mississippi river ride sometime soon!

ernie January 20, 2016, 2:11 PM

Big Sky, Wonderful people, stunning scenery.

It's no wonder people vacation, live and wish they could live here. Adventure Cycling is an apt description for the travel and the organization. These are not just bike rides. You will be sleeping on the same ground Lewis and Clark did (the bronze markers are there for you to see). Do it while you still

can.

Richard Long January 20, 2016, 1:48 PM

There's something magical about the Missouri River that's the Mississippi is missing.

John Wegner January 20, 2016, 12:29 PM

My longest ride on a section of The Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail was Cpt. Clark's return journey on the Yellowstone River. This has been one of my favorite places to bike tour.

Bob Carlson January 20, 2016, 11:52 AM

We ran into the group while they were filming at the Kozy Korner in Winnett. We were on a cross country ride from the Oregon to the Maine coast. Here's our CGOAB entry: https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=10P&page_id=423496&v=e8.

Lisa McKinney January 19, 2016, 3:21 PM

You might also enjoy:

Daunted Courage. A Family's Bicycle Adventure on the Lewis & Clark Trail http://familyadventureguy.blogspot.com/2015/10/new-book-daunted-courage-familys_28.html

Alan Wechsler January 19, 2016, 9:59 AM

What a great video. Very inspiring. I've been thinking of what my next bicycle adventure might be, and this is now high on the list. I've heard from others who have ridden or driven in this area, and it sounds spectacular -- remote, scenic, friendly and adventurous. Nice job.

Richard Burfiend January 18, 2016, 4:32 PM

I'll be using a portion of this route on my way north to the GDMBR. The Montana portion will redoubtably whet my appetite for more adventures on the Lewis & Clark Trail.

Allan Metts January 18, 2016, 2:42 PM

I've spent time in Missouri and Oregon -- so I've seen what's on either end of this trail. But I'd love to experience what's in between! I really like the unique combination of history and nature that this route has to offer.

Donavon Garner January 17, 2016, 10:29 PM

When I was a kid my family took some of our vacations at Lolo Hot Springs. I remember seeing people touring though there on bicycles even then and it inspired me. Riding the Lewis Clark Trail is on my bucket list of tours I want to take.

Robin January 17, 2016, 8:45 PM

I am so looking forward to riding all over the US on my bike, I especially love scenic trails

Tom Anderson January 17, 2016, 1:30 PM

I went to school thru 8th grade in Three Forks, MT, which is the terminus for the Missouri river portion of Lewis and Clarks route. During 7th and 8th grade history, we learned all about Montana history, but especially about Lewis and Clark. Now that I live in Iowa, I've been wanting to start this route in St Louis and head westward. Eventually, I'll be doing that....

Les Warden January 16, 2016, 10:04 PM

I just purchased my tour bike last year and haven't put nearly enough miles on it. I would love to see this beautiful countryside and rack up some additional miles!

scottmacs January 16, 2016, 1:34 PM

Bike touring in Big Sky Country sounds heavenly. I'd like to go up one of those hills and find out first hand how many miles around I could see. That pie at the Kozy Korner looks pretty good, too.

Stuart Nottingham January 16, 2016, 11:18 AM

As we plan our future cross country ride, my wife and I decided to forego the first half of the Northern Tier route in favor of the Lewis & Clark Trail. Doing this will allow us to take a break at home in Omaha at the midpoint of the journey. A shot hop across Iowa, then back to the NT to finish up in Maine.

Sam Reich January 16, 2016, 5:12 AM

I grew up in NYC, but now live in Australia. I've always been fascinated by the Lewis & Clark expedition, and the romance of the adventure seeing the amazing American continent for the first time, virtually unsupported, My wife and I recently returned from riding the Great Allegheny Passage/C&O trail, and I'd love to get back and try the entire Lewis & Clark trail.

Ralph Julian January 15, 2016, 6:16 PM

Just put my "new" membership check in the mail and look forward to visiting Montana. I am a fly fishing history buff and plan to absorb the trip, history and the adventure; the video was inspiring!

Jason Cordes January 15, 2016, 2:39 PM

My wife and I have taken short tours with our young (6 & 3) sons since they could ride in a trailer. A cross country trip is a dream we all share and hopefully in a couple of summers it will become a reality. As a high school History teacher, I can't imagine a better route through the west than than the Lewis & Clark route.

Bob Kissinger January 15, 2016, 12:22 PM

I grew up in Grangeville, ID, 70 miles from the towns of Lewiston, ID and Clarkston, WA. Two towns named after Lewis and Clark, separated by the Snake River, and at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers. I was taught the history of the Corps of Discovery since 1st grade. I would like to experience the entire route some day.

Gary Blevins January 15, 2016, 12:18 PM

A great video, I also read the Undaunted Courage book and you can definitely feel some of that spirit in the video of the Lewis and Clark route. I am working on "segment" riding the southern tier route before I retire in 4 years. I am going to add the L&C route to my bucket list.

Scott Johnson January 15, 2016, 10:59 AM

I have read the "Journals of Lewis and Clark" edited by DeVoto. And let me tell you the reading can be a bit "repetitive and dry", but also mountains of thrills. Just like a long tour bicycle trip. There are "mountains and valleys". The Lewis and Clark trail is on my "bucket list" as a cyclist.

Jeffrey Fritts January 15, 2016, 10:10 AM

A dream 40 years in the making. My 64th birthday April 30th 2016 will mark my departure for The Miss Abby Trans-America Memorial Tour. I live in Walla Walla,WA, Sec. 7, Map 99 of ACA's Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail. Riding west to dip my rear wheel at Seaside only to ride back through Walla Walla on my way east. The L&C Trail will be the centerpiece of my trans-America ride. Dipping my front wheel in the Atlantic at Kitty Hawk, NC, a fitting place for a retired Air Force guy riding a bicycle to end one adventure and begin others. (I hope I am one of the winners of the giveaway of maps - I'm a Warmshowers host and I keep giving away sections of my L&C maps to guest as they pass through Walla Walla.) Jeffrey Fritts, Walla Walla, WA USA

Tom Riley January 15, 2016, 8:44 AM

I think the Lewis and Clark Trail really shares the spirit of bicycle touring. They thought the expedition would be over once they got to the summit of the continental divide only to find some of the most difficult terrain of the journey. How many times has a bike ride to the top of the hill or mountain resulted in more climbing? I would love to do this route.

Karl January 15, 2016, 7:03 AM

This is a route I really want to try one day. Historic and beautiful.

Heidi Sager January 15, 2016, 4:33 AM

I have read about people driving this route but it would be awesome to do by bike. What a great way to see the US.

Danny Cardoza January 14, 2016, 10:53 PM

I'm a firm believer that North Dakota doesn't actually exist. The only way I'll be convinced is if I ride a bike through it on the Lewis and Clark trail.

Jeff Carroll January 14, 2016, 8:51 PM

It's my dream to do a cross country tour. The history and natural beauty put the Lewis and Clark high on my list.

Steven House January 14, 2016, 7:29 PM

It's a long time now since I spent 9 months cycling around the USA in 1993. Time for a re-visit and to introduce my keen cyclist nephews to the joys of cycle touring. The Clerk & Lewis route explores a part of the US I never managed to explore the first time round. I'd love to give it a go.

Tom January 14, 2016, 6:36 PM

My wife and I rode the L&C as part of our cross country tour in 2014. What a beautiful route! Would do it again!!!

Bruce Seeling January 14, 2016, 6:29 PM

The large L&C statue in St Charles, MO, should be an inspiration for anyone who has a desire to explore. I have ridden the eastern part of the trail as I live a few hundred feet from it. I driven along a the western portion. Would like to ride this route.

Patrick Caldwell January 14, 2016, 4:55 PM

While riding the TransAm in 2013, my group met up with another rider who was doing the L&C. Sounded fun, and that part of the country is great, especially according to this Midwesterner!

Jason Marshall January 14, 2016, 1:08 PM

This route looks awesome. I would love to ride it and imagine the area as it was when L, C, and team first made the journey.

Mark Carpenter January 14, 2016, 12:55 PM

I have not had the opportunity to ride this trail. However retirement is coming soon and I look forward to exploring this area.

Julie January 14, 2016, 12:52 PM

I'm looking for a fun bike adventure for my 40th this year and think the Lewis and Clark bike trail might be it! Thanks for the article.

Scott Curtis January 14, 2016, 12:26 PM

I also loved "Undaunted Courage" and will probably be re-reading it soon. I received for Christmas some recreations of William Clark's original maps and was brought back into their world. Although Columbia River Gorge, Lolo Pass, Gates of the Mountains and similar sites rightfully get top billing, I have found stops like the L&C Keelboat center and overlook in Chamberlain, SD to also give me the L&C "bug." Alas, all my historical tracings of the Corps of Discovery to date have been either by car or on foot. Perhaps an opportunity awaits?

Fred Werda January 14, 2016, 12:18 PM

Cycled Lewis and Clark route in 2003/2004. What a great ride through scenic countryside with the Columbia River Gorge a fantastic almost finish to the journey. Links to journals/pictures:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/4180

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/4182

Henrik Jappe January 22, 2016, 9:49 AM

The Lewis and Clark trail is for me a unik piece of Americas history. Further more it traverses the country in several different states and nature enviroments, making it even more interesting. Coming from Denmark and loving til US nature this trail is on top of my bucket list after doing The Colorado Trail in 2015.

Steve Bredthauer January 14, 2016, 12:17 PM

I worked with the North Pacific Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before retiring and becoming a tour leader for Adventure Cycling. We were known as the Lewis & Clark Division, because our region covered both the Missouri and the Columbia River basins, the route followed by Lewis & Clark.

Zach Bonzer January 14, 2016, 12:11 PM

I read the book "Undaunted Courage", which is about the travels of Lewis & Clark and the other men that traveled across the country in the name of exploration and science. It would be awesome to "retrace" their journey via my favorite mode of transportation, by bike.

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