How do you find new places to go bikepacking?
I did a search for this, but either I'm looking for the wrong keywords or people rarely ask this question. Usually when I travel to a new area, I look to local cycling clubs or randonneuring maps to find places to ride or things to see. This has worked pretty well in the past for road routes, but not so much when it comes to bike camping.
I live in the city of Seattle but work near Redmond, WA, so someone suggested the Evergreen Mountain Biking alliance to find trails. However, most of these don't have camping options, or suggest trails that explicitly forbid camping there. I'm all for not souring the hard work others have put in to create an alliance between the MTBers and Forestry service, so I'd like to do thing right so that people after me can enjoy camping as much as I did.
The places I bride forbid camping however there are a lot of nearby to camp. Maybe look and see if this is an option
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National Forest are a good place to look into.
Local mtn bike shops can be helpful.
Do you like riding dirt/gravel back roads or fire breaks, single track, game trails.
Rails to Trails is a good place to start your search.
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As others suggested, national forests are worth checking out. See if any are close enough, and then wade through the website for info on camping and mountain biking, in the recreation section. In addition to established campgrounds, many areas allow "dispersed camping", where you just have to pick a spot so many feet from trails, water, etc., and follow some rules. Here's where to find the WA list: USDA Forest Service - Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness The state may also have state forests, state parks, wildlife mgmt areas, etc. that allow camping.
If you haven't been to bikepacking.net, check there for trip reports, routes, etc.
In one word: Maps.
National Geo/Trails Illustrated are prevalent in the west. Many others exist that focus on local hiking/mtb/atv/jeep trails. Unlike USGS straight-up topos these recreationally based maps will have lots of info helping you to plan a trip.
Yes, US Forest Service land allows primitive camping so they are always a good bet. Also, try looking at BACKPACKING sites. There is far more information on backpacking trails and camping than bikepacking and unless bikes are restricted, are often fine for biking as well. And anyway, once you have identified a place to explore, you can do more focused bikepacking searches and see what you find.
I have found backpacking/trail alliances in a few regions that even have GPS files available for download. The Seattle region abounds with opportunities! Search some backpacking options on USFS land and see what you find.
Great suggestions here.
Also, Benchmark map books and Google maps. Many areas have specific hiking/biking maps. Bike shops, REI, hiking/adventure stores, outfitters, guide services. BLM/NF offices often have a great selection of maps and knowledgeable staff. Get creative and put something together that suits your wants that's not on the radar. So many roads, dirt roads and trails everywhere...the problem IMO is too many options.
Check respective land management agencies for camping regs. Some NF areas prohibit camping. That said, I have no problem with a quick, stealthy LNT bivy anywhere if it comes to that on the odd night.
Yes, Maps are the key although I like to look on really old maps...
...where state parks are now today, then when I get to a place besides the ride and set up I have exploring to look into. Seeing what is there today as compared to way back then. Have found old mines, and lumbering artifacts right where they were on the old maps just covered up by years of growth. I don't go into mines or disturb anything just take pics.
I like to read about the history of the greater region where I live, particularly about the early explorer's routes and about the Overlander cyclists from the early 1900s that went cross-country before roads formed. I live in SE Australia on the Great Dividing Range.
I have a liking for the unformed roads on the Travelling Stock Routes. Particularly the routes closer to home that have seen relatively little change since the 1830's. The Bicentennial National Trail along the length of the Great Dividing is based on the Travelling Stock Routes.
Reconnoitring to ask farmers and graziers for permission to use their farm roads takes time but works well. Over the years this has given me good access to rarely visited mountains. Even approaching National Parks here, for access has yielded some surprising good results, but don't request access from NP counter staff, they say things aren't possible. Talk to Senior Rangers.
The fire trails that are closed to private vehicles, some have been surprisingly good routes. Slowly over years, I've been trying to get through many of them, that are closer to home.
Copies of old paintings and photos of the region I seek out because where the majority of riders go nowadays, tend to be to fashionable places to ride. The old pics show me the places that were once popular with the Overlanders. These tend to be in a class above the current places off-road riders go.
The back country tracks on SW Slopes of New South Wales, are a prime example of where few go riding nowadays, the back country is stunning.
I study the topographic maps on the State Government land sites when I'm riding further from home. Topos here are expensive. I have a large topographic map collection of my region and a collection of New South Wales Forestry Maps and Travelling Stock Route maps. This has taken decades to collect, mostly because of the expense.
The main thing that works for me is, I like to explore ... the riding will happen anyway.
Last edited by Wild Wassa; 11-10-2012 at 02:54 PM.
I live on the other side of the mountains from ya in Kittitas co. There is a TON of routes you can bikepack out here, too many to possibly list really. We will never have enough time to chase them all down.
If that's of any interest, probably the best maps to start with are the Cle Elum ranger district ORV maps. Another bit to look at would be the Evergreen Roslyn Ridge/Teanaway stuff. Feel free to contact me if you are after additional local bits and pieces.... it's possible to start out of Roslyn/Cle Elum, hump over the ridge, then if you're willing to take some road to connect it together you're out onto remote ORV trails until you run out of food and gotta come back to town.
There's also all the Joe Watt/Taneum/Manastash/Naches south of I90. In this forum you can see the pics of where we did an overnighter (only ~3 or 4 miles in) to Manastash lake with our daughter this year on the dirt bike trails.
Sadly Table mountain all burned and the damaged trees are likely to be an issue for a few seasons. Naneum on east however is SERIOUSLY empty country... pick your adventure, just try to hit it before it gets too hot and watch the rattlesnakes, ticks, and water sources... ward posted up some pictures somewhere around here of his spring trip. We might try to hit that next year.
Camping spots are a non-issue since this is logging land/DNR/F&W/FS. Find a place you like and throw 'er down. If you're a few miles in, humans bothering you shouldn't be an issue... although elk stomping around is always a possibility...
"...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."