How I Plan a Bikepacking Route - Justin Simoni

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Road and Trail Networks

Now that I know where I’m starting and finishing, the type of bike I want to ride and the type of surface I want to ride on, I can start breaking out a map, and drawing my route.

I have a pretty good idea on the design of my route – and I think that’s maybe the most important thing to have when building a narrative for others to follow: actual experience on the route!, but sometimes it’s fun to look and see what other opinions are. Sometimes they’re fantastic, and sometimes they’re terribly, terribly misguided.

I’ve used quite a variety of online route mapping systems, but I found that Strava’s is probably one of the best. So let’s look at our options. As an experiment, let’s have Strava design the entire route by putting the starting point at the bus stop in Golden where I want to start and the ending point at the Horsethief, near Pikes Peak.

MoBikefed comment: This is an excellent runthrough of how an experienced bikepacker and route planner will go about planning a new bikepacking route.

What he finds, as soon as he lets Strava plan the route for him, is that he has to change nearly everything about the Strava-suggested route before he is satisfied.

Planning routes in the mountains of Colorado is quite different in many ways than planning a trip in the Midwest. But it is similar in many ways as well.

One of the tools Simoni uses is the CalTopo maps:

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=38.40625,-90.99976&z=7&b=t&o=f%2Cr&n=1,0...

You're not going to find those very useful if you're planning a bike trip through Kansas City, St Louis, Springfield, or Columbia.

But if you're planning an outdoor adventure through, say, the three million (!) acres of Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri, then you're going to find the CalTopo maps invaluable.

Just one example: The Moon Loop trail, about 11 miles out of Columbia:

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=38.8438,-92.1601&z=15&b=mbt