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First Family Tour Routes: Northeast US

Old 04-25-21, 09:37 AM
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jdvil
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First Family Tour Routes: Northeast US

I'm planning my first family bike tour. I did quite a bit of loaded touring when I was younger. I'm looking for suggestions for routes. Below is what I'm hoping to find. Perhaps I'm being too picky but I'd be happy to have your suggestions of routes that would best fit us. It will be me and my 3 kids (ages 7-13.)

- 3 days of biking

- About 10 miles per day (give or take a few miles) as flat as possible

- As much of the route on a bike path as possible

- Within a 6 hour drive from New York City

- Stay in hotels

- If possible, things other than biking to do or see along the way

- The Great Allegheny Trail (DC to Pittsburgh) is one option that looks good to me so far.

Any other ideas?


Thanks so much!!
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Old 04-25-21, 10:03 AM
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How about head to Bar Harbor, Maine and ride the Acadia carriage trails ?. 10 miles per day doesn't allow many options on the GAP as your going to need a shuttle. Or maybe ride the Cape Cod Canal railtrail, use a town like Orleans or Brewster as a base, Or Erie Canal Trail, upstate NY.
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Old 04-25-21, 01:44 PM
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Agree the GAP and C&O would seem out with those parameters.

Only thing I can think of is the D&L Canal Path from Yardley, PA. You could ride to New Hope, PA (12 miles), walk across the bridge to Lambertville, NJ and stay at the Lambertville Station hotel. (Mucho dinero.) Day 2 you could do a day ride out and back on the NJ side on the D&R path. Bulls Island Recreation Are is about 8 miles up river from Lambertville, so 16 round trip. Then back to Yardley on Day 3.

Maybe there are some options on the Erie Canal Path, but donít know enough about it.
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Old 04-25-21, 01:50 PM
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You might like to check out the Empire State Trail. It has most of its segments off road and numerous parking areas. You can download maps and cue sheets for individual segments. It runs from The Battery to the Canadian border, and from Albany to Buffalo.
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Old 04-25-21, 07:19 PM
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Lehigh Gorge Bike trail might fit the bill. Lots of small towns along the route. I am not certain how apart they are nor do I know if they have hotels but worth a look. There is a shuttle service that can take you back to your car.

https://poconobikerental.com/lehigh-gorge-trail/
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Old 04-25-21, 08:10 PM
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Bump it to 20-30 miles per day. I don't think my kids are all that exceptional though they do like to ride a lot, but at 6 and 8 my two oldest rode 30-45mi days over flattish terrain. We plan to ride the full length of the Erie Canal this year and my kids are currently 6, 8 and 10. We won't ride any of the paved areas so we'll be skipping chunks but it will still be about 250-275 miles over 7 days. Current plan is for an adult and the 2 oldest to leave from where we camp while the other adult and the youngest take the car to the next sleep site or long paved section and ride towards the 1st group then ride together back to the car. Days where the trip is 30-35 the youngest will also ride with the group while one adult moves the car and rides to meet them.

For that short a distance I'd just do some rides slightly upstate from you enjoy the trails running from the Bronx to the pedestrian bridge over the Hudson. In Feb we did 2 sections on 2 different days for 20 miles each day. Kids that age can ride at about 7mph so pack a lunch, ride for an hour and a half, eat lunch, ride an hour and stop for a snack, finish the last half hour. You'll have done 18-21 miles depending on wind, minor hills, and heat or cold. Won't overwork the kids and they'll have fun.
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Old 04-26-21, 05:03 AM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
Lehigh Gorge Bike trail might fit the bill. Lots of small towns along the route. I am not certain how apart they are nor do I know if they have hotels but worth a look. There is a shuttle service that can take you back to your car.

https://poconobikerental.com/lehigh-gorge-trail/
Iíve ridden the Gorge more times than I can remember. White Haven south to Jim Thorpe is about 25 miles with nothing in between except one water stop and the smelliest pit toilets I have ever encountered. I donít even like to ride by them on a hot day.

The desire for only about 30 mostly flat trail miles over three days and the desire for rooms limits options.
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Old 04-26-21, 05:39 AM
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Erie Canal Towpath trail.

Also, if you are willing to consider the C&O Canal towpath, then definitely look at the D&L Trail someone else mentioned. My wife and I a supported 4 day ride there a few years ago - my writeup on Cycleblaze is here.

You could easily do it self-supported and Pocono Biking and others offer shuttle services. I think you could pick a route to do 20 mile days that would be easily doable for kids.
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Old 04-26-21, 06:14 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Iíve ridden the Gorge more times than I can remember. White Haven south to Jim Thorpe is about 25 miles with nothing in between except one water stop and the smelliest pit toilets I have ever encountered. I donít even like to ride by them on a hot day.

The desire for only about 30 mostly flat trail miles over three days and the desire for rooms limits options.
10 miles/day and hotels make it extremely limiting. Looking at the map I see a few areas that I thought 'MIGHT' have a hotel (Rockport, Glen Onoko, Leighton). Sounds like you know the area better so OP best follow your advice.

Another thought is to make Jim Thorpe your base and do day trips using the shuttle service.
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Old 04-26-21, 06:21 AM
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Here in the French part of Canada, a cycling organization called Velo Quebec, runs a family orientated 3 day supported trip, it's been cancelled last summer and this, but we did do it our kids twice (they were a bit older than yours ) but neighbours of ours did it with their younger son.
distances were very kid friendly, and being supported meant a bus and trailer option if needed.

Not what you are looking for, but as a parent who did biking with our kids, my suggestion is to do mini rides often to get them used to riding more.
Plus the usual standard parenting rule of keeping it fun, easy, lots of breaks for snacks, drinks, and really just to make a positive impression.
Bonus is you'll get a better idea of what is a conservative, fun distance that you know is doable for all.

have fun, wherever you go.
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Old 04-29-21, 05:43 PM
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Don't know if you're already familiar with the North/South County trail running through Westchester but the rail trail is relatively flat (and in great shape once north of Elmsford). It's part of the larger Empire Trail and now has completed the section from Brewster -> Pawling -> Hopewell Jcn, so you should be completely away from car traffic from Elmsford all the way to New Paltz. Sections of it can be unexpectedly serene and beautiful.

I'm guessing a hotel every 10 miles or so might be a tall order, but I would imagine an airbnb house rental could be found close enough to the trail wherever you wanted.
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Old 04-30-21, 04:54 AM
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The Northern Central Railroad Trail (The official name may be the Torrey C Brown Trail), in Maryland, could possibly be an option. I think it is something like 22 miles long but connects to another trail (York County Heritage Trail) that goes into York, Pa. Between the two trails you could possibly find a way to connect three 10 mile sections with two rooms. If not, maybe one part could be an out and back with the same room twice. It might be worth looking in to. The bottom section was super crowded on weekends when I was there, but it thinned further north with a few busy spots. Much of it is through pretty countryside and some is along a nice scenic river.

Not sure about the availability or spacing of rooms though. If all else fails maybe an airbnb could work.

Edit to add a link:
https://bikewashington.org/trails/ncr/ncr.htm
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Old 04-30-21, 05:37 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Agree the GAP and C&O would seem out with those parameters.
I wonder if places are being dismissed too quickly given the short length of the trip. There are places on the C&O that list rooms 10 miles apart and they only need two with a criteria of 10 miles per day and 3 days. They could:
  • Start out somewhere and ride 10 miles to a room, ride 10 mile to a second room, and at the end of the third day get shuttled back or do a long 3d day all the way back.
  • Or maybe they could make do with one room and ride 10 miles to a room first day, ride 5 more miles to some attraction second day and ride back to room, ride back to the car the 3rd day
I don't know if the GAP or C&O lend themselves to either of those, but it would seem like it would be possible to figure out something even if it required going off route a bit into Hancock or Cumberland somewhere.

On another note, I can't think of any off the top of my head, but are there any 30 or so mile loop trails that might fit the criteria?
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Old 04-30-21, 06:15 AM
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Two general inputs to explore:

* Cape Cod including Nantucket/Martha's Vineyard
* Potentially do a hub/spoke or stay in one spot two nights and then go 20 miles to next spot
My knowledge of Cape Cod is dated from when I cycled in college. At that time there was a nice flat rail trail and multiple hostels. Groups from suburban NYC would organize trips with kids that went between those hostels for a week or so.

Since then, I believe the hostels have largely closed - and suspect no more of those groups. However, reason to explore is if you can find places to stay (I was poor college student so it was hostels for me), it can be a fun trip. It will likely be more than 10 miles apart but not extremely so.

It looks like there is still a hostel in Nantucket and one on Martha's Vineyard. Find a spot not too far from the ferry in Wood's Hole or Hyannis and then take ferry to either island. Stay for a few nights and cycle day trips to explore an island. Take ferry back and do a day or two on main Cape not too far from accomodations there, etc.
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Old 05-02-21, 05:37 AM
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The C&O canal rents out the lockhouses. https://www.canaltrust.org/programs/canal-quarters/. Could be a fun experience in the right weather. Try to avoid the heat and humidity of the summer.
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