The Top Bicycle Routes in the United States to Explore This Summer

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Bicycling enthusiasts rejoice! The United States offers some of the most scenic and exhilarating bike routes in the world. Whether you're looking for a challenging mountainous trail or a leisurely ride through picturesque countryside, there's something for every cyclist.

1. Pacific Coast Highway, California

The Pacific Coast Highway is a dream come true for cyclists who love stunning ocean views and challenging terrain. Stretching from San Francisco to Los Angeles, this route offers over 600 miles of breathtaking scenery, making it ideal for experienced cyclists.

The route features numerous climbs and descents, including the challenging Big Sur section, which requires strong endurance and excellent riding skills. Cyclists can enjoy the majestic cliffs, serene beaches, and quaint coastal towns along the way.

Key stops include the iconic Bixby Creek Bridge and the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The Pacific Coast Highway is best tackled in sections due to its difficulty, and riders should be prepared for varying weather conditions.

The route's grades can reach up to 8-10% in some sections, adding to the route's strenuous nature but offering rewarding views of the Pacific Ocean.

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2. Great Allegheny Passage, Maryland to Pennsylvania

For those who prefer a more relaxed ride with a historical twist, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) is perfect. Spanning 150 miles from Cumberland, Maryland to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, this trail takes you through the scenic Allegheny Mountains and along historic railways.

The route is relatively flat with gentle inclines, making it suitable for cyclists of all skill levels, including families. Highlights include crossing the impressive Eastern Continental Divide and passing through the stunning Youghiogheny River Valley.

The well-maintained trail is mostly off-road, providing a safe and enjoyable cycling experience with plenty of scenic spots for picnics and rest breaks. The GAP's maximum grade is around 2%, offering a smooth ride with scenic views of rivers, forests, and small towns.

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3. Katy Trail, Missouri

The Katy Trail is the longest rail-trail in the United States, offering 240 miles of flat, scenic riding from Clinton to Machens, Missouri. This route follows the path of the Missouri River, passing through lush forests, charming small towns, and expansive farmlands.

The trail is predominantly flat, making it accessible to cyclists of all ages and fitness levels. Key attractions include the historic towns of Hermann and St. Charles, known for their wineries and cultural heritage. The trail is well-maintained and offers numerous amenities for cyclists, making it ideal for a multi-day adventure.

Cyclists can enjoy a leisurely pace while taking in the beautiful natural surroundings and stopping at various points of interest along the way. With a maximum grade of around 1%, the Katy Trail is an easy ride, perfect for those looking to enjoy the scenic Missouri landscape without strenuous effort.

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4. Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia to North Carolina

For cyclists who crave mountain scenery and challenging climbs, the Blue Ridge Parkway is a must-ride. This 469-mile route runs from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina.

Known for its sweeping vistas, the Parkway offers a continuous ride through the Appalachian Mountains. The route features numerous steep climbs and descents, requiring strong physical fitness and advanced cycling skills.

Key highlights include Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi River, and the picturesque Peaks of Otter. Cyclists should be prepared for varying weather conditions and limited services along the route, making it essential to plan and pack accordingly.

The climbs can have grades exceeding 7-8%, making the Blue Ridge Parkway a rigorous but highly rewarding ride with panoramic views at every turn.

SEE ALSO : Are Smart Helmets a Smart Choice? Professionals Explain Why

5. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is a cyclist's paradise, offering some of the most spectacular scenery in the United States. The highlight of this park is the Going-to-the-Sun Road, a 50-mile route that traverses the Continental Divide.

This route is known for its challenging climbs and thrilling descents, making it suitable for experienced cyclists with excellent climbing and endurance skills. Cyclists can experience jaw-dropping views of glaciers, alpine meadows, and pristine lakes. Due to snow, this road is typically only open from late June to early October, making it a perfect summer ride.

Riders should be prepared for changing weather conditions and potential wildlife encounters along the way. The road's grades can reach up to 6-8%, demanding significant effort but rewarding cyclists with unparalleled vistas of Montana's rugged landscapes.

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6. Natchez Trace Parkway, Mississippi to Tennessee

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a historic route that spans 444 miles from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville, Tennessee. This route offers a smooth, traffic-free ride through the lush, rolling hills of the Southeast. The gentle inclines and well-paved surfaces make it accessible to cyclists of all skill levels.

Cyclists can enjoy a leisurely ride while exploring historic sites such as the Emerald Mound and the Meriwether Lewis Monument. The parkway is well-shaded and offers numerous campgrounds and rest areas, providing a comfortable and enjoyable cycling experience.

This route is perfect for those looking for a relaxed, scenic ride with plenty of opportunities to explore and learn about the region's rich history. The Natchez Trace Parkway's grades rarely exceed 3%, making it an easy and pleasant ride suitable for long-distance touring.

7. Cades Cove Loop Road, Tennessee

Located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cades Cove Loop Road is a scenic 11-mile one-way loop that offers stunning views and abundant wildlife. The route is relatively flat with a few gentle inclines, making it suitable for cyclists of all ages and fitness levels.

Cyclists can enjoy a peaceful ride through lush meadows and forested areas, with frequent sightings of deer, black bears, and wild turkeys. The loop is closed to motor vehicles on certain days, providing a safe and enjoyable experience for cyclists.

This short but beautiful route is perfect for a family outing or a leisurely day trip, offering a unique opportunity to connect with nature and wildlife. The maximum grade is around 2-3%, ensuring an easy ride while taking in the breathtaking natural beauty.

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8. Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes, Idaho

The Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes is a 73-mile paved trail that runs through the scenic mountains and lakes of Northern Idaho. This route offers a diverse range of landscapes, from the tranquil shores of Lake Coeur d'Alene to the rolling hills of the Silver Valley.

The trail is mostly flat with some gentle inclines, making it suitable for cyclists of all skill levels. Cyclists can enjoy a smooth, easy ride with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore the charming towns and historic sites along the way. Key highlights include the scenic

Chatcolet Bridge and the historic Kellogg Trestle. This route is ideal for a multi-day adventure, with plenty of amenities and beautiful scenery to enjoy. With grades that do not exceed 2-3%, the trail offers a comfortable and scenic ride through Northern Idaho's picturesque landscapes.

9. Cape Cod Rail Trail, Massachusetts

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 25-mile paved path that runs from South Dennis to Wellfleet. This trail offers a scenic ride through the charming towns and beautiful beaches of Cape Cod. The route is mostly flat with a few gentle inclines, making it accessible to cyclists of all ages and fitness levels.

Cyclists can enjoy a leisurely ride with plenty of opportunities to stop for a swim, explore quaint shops, or sample fresh seafood at local eateries. Key attractions along the trail include the Cape Cod National Seashore and the historic Nauset Lighthouse.

The trail is well-maintained and offers numerous amenities, making it perfect for a day trip or a multi-day adventure. The trail's grades rarely exceed 2-3%, ensuring an easy and enjoyable ride through the scenic and historic Cape Cod region.

10. Root River State Trail, Minnesota

The Root River State Trail is a 42-mile paved trail that runs through the picturesque Root River Valley in southeastern Minnesota. This trail offers a gentle ride through scenic bluffs, lush forests, and charming small towns.

The route is predominantly flat with a few gentle inclines, making it suitable for cyclists of all ages and fitness levels. Cyclists can enjoy a peaceful ride with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore local attractions, such as the historic Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park and the charming town of Lanesboro.

The trail is well-maintained and offers numerous amenities, making it ideal for a leisurely day trip or a weekend getaway. With a maximum grade of around 2%, the Root River State Trail provides an easy and scenic ride through southeastern Minnesota's beautiful landscapes.

Important Considerations for Cyclists

Always check the weather forecast before heading out, as conditions can change rapidly, especially in mountainous and coastal areas. Ensure your bike is in good working condition, with well-maintained brakes, tires, and gears.

Carry essential gear such as a repair kit, spare tubes, a pump, and plenty of water and snacks. It's also crucial to wear appropriate clothing, including a helmet, and bring appropriate layers to adapt to changing temperatures.

Being aware of your physical limits and pace yourself, especially on routes with significant climbs. It's also wise to inform someone of your plans and expected return time, particularly when riding in remote areas.


Exploring the best bicycle routes in the United States is a fantastic way to experience the country's diverse landscapes and rich history. Whether you prefer a challenging mountain climb or a leisurely ride through scenic countryside, there's a route for every cyclist. So, pack your gear, hop on your bike, and discover the beauty of America's great outdoors this summer.


Is it safe to tour alone?
Solo touring can be safe if you take precautions. Inform someone about your route and expected check-in times. Carry a phone, first-aid kit, and personal identification. Trust your instincts and avoid risky areas.

How can I manage my budget during a bicycle tour?
Plan a budget for daily expenses like food, lodging, and incidentals. Save money by camping, cooking your meals, and seeking out free or low-cost attractions. Keep track of your spending to avoid running out of funds.

What is the best time of year for bicycle touring?
The best time depends on your destination's climate. Generally, spring and fall offer mild weather and fewer tourists. Research your route to avoid extreme temperatures and weather conditions.

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