Lewis & Clark Trail Bicycle Route
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (March 2010)|
The Adventure Cycling Association Lewis & Clark Trail Bicycle Route is a US Cycle route divided into multiple route segments/side routes. The route is a total of 3,253 mi (5,235 km). This route was created to celebrate the anniversary of the Corps of Discovery's 1804-1806 historic journey and offers cyclists the opportunity to follow the path of the explorers Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Native American guides. It includes seven map sections detailing the 1804-1805 westbound trip, roughly following the Missouri River and the Columbia River, and one map section showing Clark's 1806 eastbound return along the Yellowstone River.
The main route of the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail is made up of paved roads, bike paths, and unpaved rail-trails, with occasional short sections of gravel roads. Conditions vary from rural to urban.
Lewis and Clark's expedition travelled more often by boat via rivers than by land, and this route follows the rivers as closely as possible. Occasional rough roads, narrow to non-existent shoulders, and sparse services make this a more challenging route and requires a fat-tired touring bicycle. A water filter is required, as many of the camp grounds available are primitive and do not have potable water sources. Using motels, requires planning ahead and the readiness to ride some long days, perhaps as much as 100 miles (160 km). Distances between services in some areas can be substantial, so prior planning of daily mileage is important.
Options and alternates offer the significant variety. The route covers 4,630 mapped miles (7,454 km). Travelling the most historically correct (main) westbound route over Lemhi Pass, the ride is 3,254 miles (5,237 km) to reach the Pacific Ocean. In total, there are 174 miles (280 km) of unpaved rail-trail and 214 miles (344 km) of gravel, 13 of which are unavoidable if you stay on the route. Some options allow riders to avoid gravel sections or to ride closer to the Missouri River, whereas others offer historical side trips and rarely seen vistas, like the view from Lewis and Clark Pass.
In response to all of the interest and activity in the years leading up to the Lewis & Clark expedition bicentennial celebration, the National Council of the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial was formed. Working hand in hand with federal and state agencies, Indian tribes, and other groups and individuals, the council coordinated dozens of partners, programs, and events concerned with commemorating the bicentennial. The council recognized the Lewis & Clark Bicycle Trail map series as part of the nationwide celebration.