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Head to the bike trails to view this summer’s eclipse

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Riding your bicycle out a bike path could be the best way to get to out-of-the-way viewing spots for this summer’s Total Solar Eclipse of 2017.

The moon passes in front of the sun on Aug. 21, creating a dazzling corona that can be seen in a 70-mile wide swath across the US from Oregon to South Carolina.

As this is the only total solar eclipse in the US between 1979 and 2024, eclipse-mania is already riding high.

Reservations for campgrounds along the path of the eclipse are already mostly sold out, and traffic is expected to be heavy throughout eclipse viewing areas.

Fortunately, some bicycle trails cross the path of the eclipse and afford a way to get away from the expected traffic.

Finding the right trails

If you’re familiar with an area, you can compare the location of your favorite bike trails with the interactive map that shows the eclipse path. I used the search function at Traillink.com to identify possible trails in the eclipse zone, then checked that against the interactive map.

Here are a few I’ve noticed, in no particular order:

Bike trails in Corvallis (Oregon)

Although not exactly a remote location, a number of short trails are available in Corvallis, home of Oregon State University. Consider the Willamette River Trail . Elsewhere in Oregon, the Dry Canyon Trail near Redmond appears to be at the edge of totality.

Weiser River National Recreation Trail (Idaho)

Another good trail could be the Weiser River National Recreation Trail that rolls for 84 miles in eastern Idaho. Although more remote than Corvallis, the town of Weiser has services and is located near the center of the eclipse zone. Traillink says the trail is asphalt, ballast or gravel, depending on your location, and ” the southern end mainly comprises rolling hills and open canyons.”

Idaho Centennial Trail (Idaho)

The rugged southern section of the mountain biking and hiking trail through the Salmon-Challis National Forest (see map).

Katy Trail (Missouri)

The Total Eclipse of the Katy bike ride is presented by Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Unfortunately, the 500 available reservations filled up quickly for this ride between Rocheport and North Jefferson.

But the trail is public and there’s no stopping you from riding out there on your own. Take a look at the parks map for Missouri, and you’ll discover that all but the extreme eastern and western reaches of the Katy Trail are within the eclipse zone.

Wyoming Heritage Trail (Wyoming)

In sparsely populated Wyoming, road traffic might not be an issue. You might want to consider the 22-mile Wyoming Heritage Trail in Riverton, anyway. The town is located close to the center of the eclipse zone, and the trail is paved to the town limits. There’s also the 3-mile Casper Rail-Trail in Casper.

Grand Island (Nebraska)

Many rail-trails are in the path of the eclipse in Nebraska. Several are located in the Grand Island area, which is expecting up to 50,000 visitors. Among them is the 4.5 mile Riverway Trail, and the 8-mile Dark Island Trail (appropriately named for eclipse viewing) in Central City. The 23-mile Chief Standing Bear Trail in Beatrice is close to the center of the eclipse zone.

Southern Illinois

The eclipse’s longest duration is in southern Illinois near Carbondale. The 55-mile Tunnel Hill State Trail from Eldorado to White Hill is entirely within in the eclipse zone. Carbondale, home of Southern Illinois University, also is on the Transamerica Bicycle Route, although those small country roads might be jammed with traffic during the eclipse.

Nashville, Tennessee

Hotels in Nashville were offering eclipse packages for visitors, but I don’t know if they include the many trails in the area. The 10-mile Stones River Greenway is west of Nashville and the 6-mile Cumberland River Bicentennial Trail is in Ashland City, east of Nashville.

Greenville, South Carolina

Among the trails in the eclipse path in South Carolina are the 20-mile Greenville Health System Swamp Rabbit Trail. West of Columbia, the Peak to Prosperity Passage segment of the Palmetto Trail passes through the eclipse zone.

Screenshot from zoomable eclipse map


Protect your eyes

We know not to look directly at the sun, not even during an eclipse, and not even with standard sunglasses. Check out products at Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, or Eclipse2017.org.


Tomorrow: Bike tours that cross paths with the 2017 solar eclipse

Permanent link to this article: http://www.bikingbis.com/2017/05/03/head-to-the-bike-trails-to-view-this-summers-eclipse/

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