I have completed the PCH recently, and it truly was an amazing experience. I especially loved Big Sur.This got me thinking: veteran cycle tourers/bikepackers:
What are your favorite trips overall on a bike?
Which short (a few nights) ones do you like most?
Which medium (a week or two) ones do you recommend?
Which long ones are your favorites?
For a long trip I highly recommend the TransAm route. My wife and I rode it west to east 3 years ago, It was awsome. For a week to 10 day trip I would recommend the GAP / C&O Canal, Pittsburgh to Washington DC. We just finished that one. It was a "Bucket List" trip. We will be doing the west coast of the US in September. Looking forward to it. We have done San Francisco back to Orange County but not the entire coast from Canada to Mexico
If you're looking at Alaska I highly recommed Resurrection Pass on the Kenai Pennisula. It's 40 miles total (20 miles up and then 20 miles down, basically). There are cabins for rent or ample tent camping spots along the whole route. I did it as a two day trip and again as a three day trip and I definitely recommend taking your time. There is simply too much granduer to take in!
Bikepacking is one of my new favorite outdoor activities! Last summer I rode the C&O and GAP trail from DC to Pittsburgh and it was an amazing 330 miles. You can easily split it into 2 shorter trips and just complete either the C&O(Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail) or GAP (Great Allegheny Passage). There are some awesome camping spots and water on the entire trail. Pair that with great sightseeing and many historical landmarks and you've got a bike adventure not to be forgotten.
I too have ridden the C&O Towpath from DC to Antietam. The history along the route is fantastic. Other rides of short duration are the KATY trail across Missouri and Ft Lauderdale to Key West in winter is very nice. I completed the Southern Tier a few years ago mostly solo and self supported. It was a great adventure with so many cultures to experience. So many great ride out there to enjoy.
Totally agree that bike packing is an amazing way to combine a love for camping and cycling! I try and do several one to two day trips and one big adventure each year.
My favorite overnighters are here in the Wasatch Cache outside of Salt Lake City. There are tons of MTB trails that lead to Forest Service land that is prime for overnight camping.
I have two notable long trips from the past two years.
1. Road/Dirt/Gravel tour from LAX to Las Vegas. We started in LA and rode to Palm Springs>Joshua Tree>Mojave Desert>Death Valley>Las Vegas. This was around 400 mi and took 3.5 days. We intentionally hit every National Recreation area and National Park we could find on route! Doing this tour in February rewarded us with mild temps and beautiful scenery.
2. The Smoke n Fire 400 route in Idaho was the perfect week long getaway last July. Idaho has such vast and varied scenery with an abundance of public lands. With consistent resupply options and copious amounts of fresh flowing water, this route was a treat!
A fairly short trail that I like is the Michelson Trail in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Well maintained (there is a trail use fee) camping is not permitted on the trail, but once you are 500 feet from the trail, you are on USFS land, where dispersed camping is fine.
I have also enjoyed the Paul Bunyan Trail (Minnesota), another rail to trail project. This was-very nostalgic because when I was a kid, we always took the trail from Minneapolis to Brainerd for a family vacation. That right of way is now the PB trail.
You don't need a designated trail at all for a good tour. Just pick out secondary highways that will see moderate traffic and that have interesting locations along them. On a bike, you will find interesting things you could never have predicted. One of my favorite trips was from Denver to Hot Springs, South Dakota where I had a seasonal job. Often denigrated as "flyover country," this was a wonderful trip, sometimes camping, sometimes using motels - cooking out or eating in restaurants, this was a great way to travel and connect.
I know of a route from Seattle to Portland — no, not the popular supported STP. The route I mean has unpaved roads and goes through Mt. Rainier (up to the lodge!) Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and other places: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/22600798
A long route I like is the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. I rode a part of it this past summer, and another section a couple of years ago.