The Chainlink

Where would you (should I) go on a 8-10 day tour starting and ending in Chicago?

I'm trying to plan a good route for a tour next month. We have the flexibility of doing 7-10 days.

We'll be riding fully touring bikes with 700x32c wheels with plans to camp every night. Probably don't want to do more than 60 miles a day, although it's not a hard constraint. The question is - where should I go? I found a nice route on here for going to Madison in 3 days, but then from there I wasn't sure what to do. Maybe it's not a good first part of a 7-10 day tour, so I should consider something else entirely. Maybe part of the Grand Illinois Trail? I'd really like something scenic with nice camping, but really I just want to get out there and ride. Suggestions?

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Does Amtrak allow roll-on bike service to St. Paul? There's no booking option for bikes on their site.

Kelvin Mulcky said:

You could take the Amtrack up to St. Paul and ride back using the various Wisconsin trails mentioned above. The 400 mile trip would be about seven 60mile days. Throw in a cople rest days and you've got yourself and nice trip.

 

Wisconsin state parks have a policy of never turning away bike tourists, even if the campground is sold out. So, don't worry about reservations (at state parks only).

Right, as Cameron said, you'll need to box the bike.

Thanks for starting this thread.  I'm also looking for recommendations for a 3-4 day route from Chicago with camping and nice natural areas along the way.  Trains and other modes included.  We'll be on sturdy road bikes.  These are great suggestions, keep them coming :) 

 

 

In about two weeks, I plan on riding the Hennepin Trail that goes all the way to the Quad cities (Iowa,IL), starting in Willow Springs (there's also a Metra stop there) passing through Starved Rock National Park. The trail length is under 200 miles. For the return, head south to Galesburg, IL (50 miles south of the Quad cities) and hop on the Amtrak (this line allows roll-on bike service, just make sure to book with bike option on their website).

 

Here's the tentative route.

 

 

 

I

If you want to continue from Madison here's what I would do.  Head down to New Glarus and Monroe.  Then back into Illinois, head for Le-Aqua-Na, Lowden, or White Pines State Parks.  Then pick up the Hennepin Feeder Canal path at Rock Falls.  Take it down to Mineral, then Johnson Sauk Trail Park.  Back to the main Canal path at Wyanet,  with Starved Rock, Mathiesen, and Buffalo Rock parks as options on the GIT headed home.  The route is about 360 miles from Madison to Chicago, depending on which parks you head for.    Happy to help with more details if you decide on the Madison + something route. 
Thanks for your help last month. The plan is to do this ride. Can you give me any more details? We're working out where we want to camp on the Michigan side and don't really have a clue.

JeffB said:
I did a 7 day ride in June; 460 miles (60-70 per day).  Went up to Manitowoc, took the slow ferry to Ludington, and then rode down the coast of MI and back to Chi thru IN.  I actually started riding in Kenosha;  I took the Metra there due to scheduling issues with the ferry (I had to be there by 2pm on my second day, so I rode to Pt Washington on my first day, rather than Milwaukee)
I've also responded to JeffB with this question: After more planning and riding, the plan is to do this (going north first). Can you give me any more details? We're working out where we want to camp on the Michigan side and don't really have a clue.


Alex said:
I did the same ride as JeffB in reverse two weeks ago: left my apartment in Logan Square on Friday morning, rode through NW IN and up to Ludington (stopping in New Buffalo, South Haven and Muskegon on the way), took the (yes very slow) ferry to Manitowoc, spent nights in Sheboygan and Milwaukee, and was drinking a beer at the Handlebar on my way back into town the following Thursday afternoon. It was a really, really nice ride, and I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a week loop out of Chicago. A good mix of rail trails and reasonably low-traffic roads the whole way around, though I took higher traffic options pretty frequently to make better time. I rode between 30 and 95 miles each day averaging I think 70 almost exactly.

I did the same thing in July!  Wonderful Tour with many beaches, lighthouses, breweries along the way.  Highly recommended!


JeffB said:

I did a 7 day ride in June; 460 miles (60-70 per day).  Went up to Manitowoc, took the slow ferry to Ludington, and then rode down the coast of MI and back to Chi thru IN.  I actually started riding in Kenosha;  I took the Metra there due to scheduling issues with the ferry (I had to be there by 2pm on my second day, so I rode to Pt Washington on my first day, rather than Milwaukee)

There are campsites at Silver Lake State Park, Muskegon State Park, Holland State Park, Van Buren State Park, and  Warren Dunes State Park,  listed from north to south.  All are on the lake shore.

 

If I were doing the trip, I wouldn't be without DeLorme Atlas and Gazetteer for WI and MI.  Around $20 for each state.  Quick and easy way to find interesting things along the route.

Some of my experiences:

 

[Weblog]  and [Pictures] for a second 2007 tour around Lake Michigan - this time all the way around

[Weblog] and [Pictures] from a ride from Pittsburgh to Washington DC in May of 2010

[Weblog]and [Pictures] from the Grand Illinois Trail around Illinois during the summer of 2006

[Weblog] and [Pictures] from an aborted attempt to ride to St. Louis during the midwest flooding of June 2008

[Weblog] from a ride part-way down the Katy Trail starting in St. Louis, Missouri

 

Hopefully this will give you some ideas and you can make a good trip on your own!

 

http://orion.neiu.edu/~rkastig1/bikehome.html

 

 

The Grand Illinois Trail was mentioned, the League of Illinois Bicyclists has route guides for the Grand Illinois Trail as well as the Mississippi River Trail and the Route 66 Trail online at http://www.bikelib.org/maps-and-rides/route-guides/.

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