short bike touring routes
(Photo/Christian Horz via Shutterstock)

Everyday Epics: Adventure Cycling Association Unveils Mini Routes

Are you psyched on bike touring but not psyched on mega mileage? These new quick routes could be just what you’re looking for.

The Adventure Cycling Association has spent years adding thousands of miles of bike routes to multiple networks throughout the United States.

Usually, the additions it announces come in bunches. Snaking corridors thousands of miles long are the norm. But the Missoula, Mont., organization takes a different tack with its latest bundle of 12 new trails: the aptly named Short Routes.

Connecting several urban centers from coast to coast, the routes facilitate rides from 100+ miles long to less than 20. The Association makes digital and printable maps of the new routes free to all and said it designed them for new riders or “those with less time.”

Since releasing the TransAmerica Trail in 1976, the organization has mapped more than 50,000 miles of bike routes across the U.S. and into Canada. “[B]ut recognizing that they aren’t for everyone, we’ve produced these new Short Routes,” said Nathan Taylor, Cartographer for Adventure Cycling. “While many of our epic routes can take weeks to ride in full, Short Routes are two- to five-day itineraries.”

The routes range between loops, out-and-back options, and segments you can combine with public transportation like buses, trains, and ferries.

‘Short Routes’: Details and Concept

  • Los Angeles: Carpinteria to Refugio (37.28 miles)
  • Los Angeles: L.A. to Catalina Island (42.66 miles)
  • Los Angeles: Santa Monica Overnight (34.94 miles)
  • Seattle: Seattle to Fort Flagler (58.73 miles)
  • Seattle: Seattle to Kanasket-Palmer (77.89 miles)
  • Seattle: Seattle to Lopez Island (121.62 miles)
  • Minneapolis: Willow River Overnight (39.39 miles)
  • Austin, Texas: Central Texas Parks Loop (120.02 miles)
  • Atlanta: Panola Outing (19.47 miles)
  • Washington, D.C.: C&O and W&OD Loop (84.75 miles)
  • Philadelphia: Schuylkill and Wissahickon Trails (62.6 miles)
  • Boston: Cape Cod Weekend (140.66 miles)

You can find the maps in multiple formats at the Adventure Cycling website. They work with the RideWithGPS app for iPhone and Android and are exportable to other apps and GPS devices. You can also save maps and cue sheets as PDF files, or — if you want to get away from it all — get a paper copy.

You’ll get more than just a line on a map and turn-by-turn instructions along with your download. Waypoints along each route include information on accommodations, grocery stores and restaurants, water sources, scenic stops and recreation sites, bike shops, public transit, and more.

Katie Harris, Adventure Cycling’s Director of Community Impact, said the organization sourced locals to help develop the Short Routes.

“The new Short Routes were developed in a slightly different way than our long-distance routes are — each was community-submitted, and we worked in partnership with BIPOC, LGBTQ, women, and intersex bicyclists to gain a new perspective on these areas,” Harris said. “We are grateful to them for sharing so that others can experience the joy of bike travel.”

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Sam Anderson

Sam has roamed the American continent to follow adventures, explore natural wonders, and find good stories. After going to college to be a writer, he got distracted (or saved) by rock climbing and spent most of the next decade on the road, supporting himself with trade work. He's had addresses in the Adirondack Mountains, Las Vegas, and somehow Kansas, but his heart belongs in the Texas hill country.