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Family friendly, mostly paved trail suggestions?

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Family friendly, mostly paved trail suggestions?

Old 07-29-19, 08:47 AM
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riverdrifter
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Family friendly, mostly paved trail suggestions?

Hi everyone! I'm looking for a family friendly, mostly paved trail for a first tour with my wife and kids. Our 8 year old will be riding his own bike, and the 3 year old will be in a trailer. I'm not concerned with it being a loop or not, we can work out those logistics. The main concerns are mostly all paved, no cars, safe, low crime, and nice views of nature. Passing through a small town or two would be nice. I'm thinking maybe 200 miles or so. We are all experienced lightweight campers and hikers, but no cycle touring experience. We've tried some short trips on wide, rural highways, but the vehicle traffic really unsettled my wife. Otherwise she is totally on board with this.

We have about a month we can take to do this, and are open to anywhere in the US. We would prefer the midwest though, as that would make the logistics a lot easier for us.

Does something like this exist here in the US? Thanks!
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Old 07-29-19, 08:56 AM
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The area in and around Xenia Ohio has miles and miles of trails extending from a hub; they are scenic and safe. The communities the trails run thru are accepting of cyclists and people are friendly. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best paved trail systems I've ever seen.
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Old 07-29-19, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
The area in and around Xenia Ohio has miles and miles of trails extending from a hub; they are scenic and safe. The communities the trails run thru are accepting of cyclists and people are friendly. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best paved trail systems I've ever seen.
Thanks! I'll check that area out.
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Old 07-29-19, 09:47 AM
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Midwest is a pretty broad area. I think some of the Minnesota trails are paved, but I have not ridden any of them. That is something you could research, or perhaps someone on this forum will comment on them?
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Old 07-29-19, 09:54 AM
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Katy Trail in Missouri is nice. Not paved, but pretty smooth.


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Old 07-29-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Hi everyone! I'm looking for a family friendly, mostly paved trail for a first tour with my wife and kids. Our 8 year old will be riding his own bike, and the 3 year old will be in a trailer. I'm not concerned with it being a loop or not, we can work out those logistics. The main concerns are mostly all paved, no cars, safe, low crime, and nice views of nature. Passing through a small town or two would be nice. I'm thinking maybe 200 miles or so. We are all experienced lightweight campers and hikers, but no cycle touring experience. We've tried some short trips on wide, rural highways, but the vehicle traffic really unsettled my wife. Otherwise she is totally on board with this.

We have about a month we can take to do this, and are open to anywhere in the US. We would prefer the midwest though, as that would make the logistics a lot easier for us.

Does something like this exist here in the US? Thanks!
Since you're in Nebraska I've heard amazing things about the Cowboy Trail. No personal experience though.
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Old 07-29-19, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Since you're in Nebraska I've heard amazing things about the Cowboy Trail. No personal experience though.
Thanks! I'm interested in the Cowboy Trail, but it's all crushed limestone. I'd be on a road bike with 32s, my wife's hybrid has 35s, and we are pulling a Burley trailer. I've read the wider the better for that trail, so I'm not sure if it would be good for us. Also we bike Nebraska every day, so a change of scenery would be nice.
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Old 07-29-19, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Thanks! I'm interested in the Cowboy Trail, but it's all crushed limestone. I'd be on a road bike with 32s, my wife's hybrid has 35s, and we are pulling a Burley trailer. I've read the wider the better for that trail, so I'm not sure if it would be good for us. Also we bike Nebraska every day, so a change of scenery would be nice.
Fair enough as far as wanting to travel a bit. Cowboy trail might be a good option for a weekend shakedown ride.

I'd like to visit it someday. There's some gigantic bridge on it that looks amazing.

FWIW the crushed limestone you'll find on most rail-trails, including the Katy, is perfectly fine for even narrow-ish road bike tires. 32s and a Burley trailer will be fine on it.
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Old 07-29-19, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Fair enough as far as wanting to travel a bit. Cowboy trail might be a good option for a weekend shakedown ride.

I'd like to visit it someday. There's some gigantic bridge on it that looks amazing.

FWIW the crushed limestone you'll find on most rail-trails, including the Katy, is perfectly fine for even narrow-ish road bike tires. 32s and a Burley trailer will be fine on it.
Yeah that bridge looks awesome!
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Old 07-29-19, 10:57 AM
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I've read some not-so-good things about the Cowboy Trail. Poorly maintained in parts. Lots of goat heads in places.

This is paved, but only 74 miles and in ID:

https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov...coeur-d-alenes

Paul Bunyan in MN is paved for 120 miles:

https://www.paulbunyantrail.com/

There is also at least one paved connecting trail. The Heartland Trail of 47 miles.
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Old 07-29-19, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ksryder View Post
Fair enough as far as wanting to travel a bit. Cowboy trail might be a good option for a weekend shakedown ride.

I'd like to visit it someday. There's some gigantic bridge on it that looks amazing.

FWIW the crushed limestone you'll find on most rail-trails, including the Katy, is perfectly fine for even narrow-ish road bike tires. 32s and a Burley trailer will be fine on it.
That is no where near "narrow-ish:. The Great Allegheny Passage is limestone but you will have no issues at all with that size of tire. You could probably go narrower.

The GAP would be the closet trail for you of any distance. You could probably even take the train to get here. Easy.
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Old 07-29-19, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
That is no where near "narrow-ish:. The Great Allegheny Passage is limestone but you will have no issues at all with that size of tire. You could probably go narrower.

The GAP would be the closet trail for you of any distance. You could probably even take the train to get here. Easy.
I didn't say it was. I said crushed limestone is suitable for narrow-ish tires. Then there was a period, indicating the end of that thought. The next separate thought was that 32s will be fine.

We are saying the same thing.
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Old 07-29-19, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
The area in and around Xenia Ohio has miles and miles of trails extending from a hub; they are scenic and safe. The communities the trails run thru are accepting of cyclists and people are friendly. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the best paved trail systems I've ever seen.
Ohio has an amazing bike path network which is nicely paved for the most part. You can basically ride on dedicated bike paths from Cincinatti to Cleveland.
My favorite area is Columbus and northwest. Lots of family friendly things to do, including zoo. The area around Newark/Granville in Licking County is very nice. Easy bike trips to Buckeye Lake, Blackhand Gorge, Alexandria, Columbus, etc.
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Old 07-29-19, 11:21 AM
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Basically low grade trail on old rail line through the Allegheny mountains of Pa and Md. Easy, beautiful riding with tons of scenic and historic stops along the way. I would suggest home basing in Frostburg, Md and taking day trips or bed and breakfast type stops along the trail. You can also explore scenic Maryland on the C&O canal path. Have fun wherever you choose.


The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage soars over valleys, snakes around mountains, and skirts alongside three rivers (the Casselman, Youghiogheny, and Monongaleha) on its nearly level path. Cyclists pass through the Cumberland Narrows, cross the Mason-Dixon Line, top the Eastern Continental Divide at 2,392’, weave through the breathtaking Laurel Highlands, wind their way through 19,052-acre Ohiopyle State Park, journey through the region’s coke, coal, mining, and steel-making corridor, and end at Pittsburgh’s majestic Point State Park.



184.5 Miles of Adventure

Preserving America's early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural, and recreational treasures.

C&O Canal Trail
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Old 07-29-19, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by AusTexMurf View Post
Basically low grade trail on old rail line through the Allegheny mountains of Pa and Md. Easy, beautiful riding with tons of scenic and historic stops along the way. I would suggest home basing in Frostburg, Md and taking day trips or bed and breakfast type stops along the trail. You can also explore scenic Maryland on the C&O canal path. Have fun wherever you choose.
Besides the fact that the OP is especially seeking paved trails preferably in the Midwest and that some in Minnesota & Ohio have been suggested, even if the OP were to choose the GAP, Frostburg would be a terrible location to be based. There is a very steep hill to return to Frostburg from the GAP. They would have to do that each time they returned to Frostburg. Remember, they'll have a 3 year old in a trailer, and an 8 year old riding his own bike. And if they head to Cumberland, they'd have a long, gradual uphill the entire way to return to Frostburg, then the steep hill back to the town. And if they head in the other direct toward Pennsylvania, they have a long gradual uphill to the eastern continental divide. Although it's a reasonably gentle railroad grade, there are much better base locations for them, even if they were to choose the GAP.
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Old 07-29-19, 11:57 AM
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Echoing what others have said, the longest, paved trial(s) I can think of is the Ohio to Erie: https://www.ohiotoerietrail.org/
But it's not 100% paved, and it's not 100% trail. Biggest on-road gap is between the end of the Holmes County Trail in Frederiksburg and the Ohio and Erie Canal Trail near Massilon. Also, to me, that section is a bit hilly. Then when you get to the Canal Trail, it has lots of unpaved portions until you get into Cleveland proper. But it's also 300+ miles. You might get a 200 mile trip by going between Cincinnati and Frederiksburg, which would minimize the on-road sections and the unpaved sections, although I think you'll still see some of both between Columbus and Millersburg.
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Old 07-29-19, 12:03 PM
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. The Paul Bunyan Trail looks like it might be close to what we are looking for. Has anyone here ridden that, or have suggestions for extending it a bit longer?
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Old 07-29-19, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I've read some not-so-good things about the Cowboy Trail. Poorly maintained in parts. Lots of goat heads in places.

This is paved, but only 74 miles and in ID:

https://parksandrecreation.idaho.gov...coeur-d-alenes

Paul Bunyan in MN is paved for 120 miles:

https://www.paulbunyantrail.com/

There is also at least one paved connecting trail. The Heartland Trail of 47 miles.
Maybe do an out and back on the Heartland Trail to add almost another 100 miles before continuing?
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Old 07-29-19, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
We would prefer the midwest though, as that would make the logistics a lot easier for us.
Check out this site, which lists several car-free routes in the midwest:

Top Car-Free Bike Routes In The Midwest

The Katy Trail in Missouri might be a good choice for a family just starting to tour:

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Old 07-30-19, 07:38 AM
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Silver Comet Trail in Georgia and the connected Chief Ladiga Trail in Alabama.

https://www.bikeforums.net/southeast...il-photos.html


-Tim-
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Old 07-31-19, 06:48 AM
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  • all paved
  • no cars
  • safe
  • low crime
  • nice views of nature
  • small towns
  • 200-mile route
  • 32mm tires
  • USA
Gonna have to compromise on something.

An improved surface but not technically 'paved' trail can be fine. On the crushed&packed stone Mickelson Trail in the Black Hills, I saw folks riding everything from fat bikes to road racers with 21mm tires.

Rather than a linear tour, consider 'star touring', where you establish a base camp and ride out in a different direction every day.

Also, don't overlook urban trail systems. From my house here in Parts Unknown, I can ride away 100 miles and have 72 of them on paved trails. Denver has an extensive system.

Speaking of Colorado, a ride from Keystone to Glenwood Springs (paths & quiet roads) would be memorable for your family.

Last edited by tcs; 07-31-19 at 06:53 AM.
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Old 07-31-19, 11:09 PM
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Originally Posted by riverdrifter View Post
Hi everyone! I'm looking for a family friendly, mostly paved trail for a first tour with my wife and kids. Our 8 year old will be riding his own bike, and the 3 year old will be in a trailer. I'm not concerned with it being a loop or not, we can work out those logistics. The main concerns are mostly all paved, no cars, safe, low crime, and nice views of nature. Passing through a small town or two would be nice. I'm thinking maybe 200 miles or so. We are all experienced lightweight campers and hikers, but no cycle touring experience. We've tried some short trips on wide, rural highways, but the vehicle traffic really unsettled my wife. Otherwise she is totally on board with this.

We have about a month we can take to do this, and are open to anywhere in the US. We would prefer the midwest though, as that would make the logistics a lot easier for us.

Does something like this exist here in the US? Thanks!
Head east a few hours, park the car in the Des Moines metro, and start riding.

The paved raccoon river valley trail is 88mi and has camping(and small cabins) along it at multiple spots. That connects to hundreds of more miles of paved trail all thru the metro.
You can then camp around Saylorville lake and ride the paved High Trestle Trail(50mi out and back) where there is camping too.
Connected to the High Trestle is the paved Chichaqua Valley trail(50ish mi out and back) with camping a few miles off the rural trail at a county park.
And if you went South, the paved Great Western trail(50ish mi out and back) has camping a couple miles off trail at a state park.

There are small towns every 5-10mi on all these trails and hotels too, if needed.

I do trips like this with my girls(12 and 8) a couple times a year on all the paved trails in my region. Most are converted rail trail so grades are moderate as worst. They are all well established and safe areas too.

...but its Iowa, so the scenery is only slightly nicer than where you are now!
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Old 08-01-19, 08:27 AM
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Check out some of the national sites for rail trails. Rails to trails. com comes to mind.
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Old 08-01-19, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
Head east a few hours, park the car in the Des Moines metro, and start riding.

The paved raccoon river valley trail is 88mi and has camping(and small cabins) along it at multiple spots. That connects to hundreds of more miles of paved trail all thru the metro.
You can then camp around Saylorville lake and ride the paved High Trestle Trail(50mi out and back) where there is camping too.
Connected to the High Trestle is the paved Chichaqua Valley trail(50ish mi out and back) with camping a few miles off the rural trail at a county park.
And if you went South, the paved Great Western trail(50ish mi out and back) has camping a couple miles off trail at a state park.

There are small towns every 5-10mi on all these trails and hotels too, if needed.

I do trips like this with my girls(12 and 8) a couple times a year on all the paved trails in my region. Most are converted rail trail so grades are moderate as worst. They are all well established and safe areas too.

...but its Iowa, so the scenery is only slightly nicer than where you are now!
Thanks! I'll look into this, it sounds great!
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Old 08-01-19, 02:20 PM
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I would HIGHLY suggest that for a "first" tour you do a simple local overnight out and back to see how it goes and work out any issues. For example, we had toured plenty before we had our son. But our first overnight tour with him at around age 2 in a Burley was challenging, to say the least.

Eight years old is doable, if the kid is motivated and you keep mileage expectations very low and stop often. Otherwise, have you considered a tandem?

My son, now 14, is joining me tomorrow to do a tour on the C&O Canal over three days this weekend (180 miles). Last year we did the GAP trail (150 miles). He's also in his third year on the local NICA youth mountain bike team. So getting them used to biking early definitely pays dividends!
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