Pedaling across the Missouri River in Omaha

View of downtown Omaha

On our return trip from New Mexico and Colorado we spent a morning pedaling back and forth across “The Bob” (a.k.a. the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge) over the Missouri River between downtown Omaha, Nebraska and Council Bluffs, Iowa. The bridge is very popular with commuters, fitness/recreation fans, and tourists. Here a some photos from our delightful experience of riding across this beautiful “S” shaped, 3,000 foot long structure that first opened in 2008.

View from Omaha side
Approaching “The Bob” from Iowa
Crossing the border

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Strolling across the three historic swinging bridges of Pontiac, IL

1978 bridge in Humiston-Riverside Park

During our recent trip to the Southwest, we stopped in the quaint Route 66 city of Pontiac, Illinois. Here, there are three (3) impressive swinging (suspension) footbridges over the Vermillion River. Two were completed in 1898 and the third in 1978. The two from 1898 appear to be nearly twins in size, length (180 foot main spans), and design, while the youngster is quite a bit taller, though a tad shorter with a 170 foot main span.

The three swinging bridges are shown in this aerial photo – one is on the far left and the other two are to the right bracketing the 90 degree bend in the river – Source: maps.google.com

All three (3) of the them have been lovingly cared for over the years and use is restricted to just foot traffic so they are preserved and not damaged. Here are a series of photos of these wonderful structures.

Approaching the 1978 bridge with overlooking deck
Westernmost 1898 bridge connecting to Play Park
Approaching the westernmost 1898 bridge
Bridge builder’s plaque
Easternmost 1898 bridge connecting Play Park and Chautauqua Park
Easternmost 1898 bridge
Approaching the easternmost 1898 bridge
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Compass Trax: A new name to reflect our expanded themes

Welcome to Compass Trax (formerly Bicycle Trax).

The name change is meant to represent the wider range of stories that the blog has been incorporating. Instead of being solely about bicycling topics, it has morphed to include stories about many kinds of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. As the new tagline notes, the many pathways this blog may explore are nearly unlimited, just like the points of the compass.

We hope your like the new and expanded offerings. Enjoy!

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Favorite historic/heritage trails to hike and/or bike

Source: mineralbelttrail.com

Presented below are my favorite historic/heritage hiking and biking trails that have been visited thus far in the United States. Until late June 2021, the Iron Ore Heritage Trail in Marquette County, Michigan was my personal favorite, but a recent ride on the Mineral Belt Trail in Leadville, Colorado has catapulted this magnificent trail into first place. Regardless of the rankings, each of these trails is interesting in the their own right. A website link for each trail is provided.

View at Mile Marker 11 on the Mineral Belt Trail

The Appalachian and North Country National Trails are not included because they are identified as “scenic” or “recreation” trails instead of “heritage” or “historic” trails. Nevertheless, you are bound to find ample history and scenery along either. As other historic hiking/biking trails are visited, they will be added to the list. Enjoy!

  1. Mineral Belt Trail – Leadville, Colorado = 11.7 miles

2. Iron Ore Heritage Trail – Marquette County, Michigan = 47 miles

3. San Antonio Mission National Historical Park Trail – San Antonio, Texas = 15.1 miles

4. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath Trail – Maryland and District of Columbia = 184.5 miles

5. Ohio & Erie Canalway Towpath Trail – Northeast Ohio = 110 miles upon full completion

6. Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor – across Upstate New York from Buffalo to Albany = 365 miles

7. Juan Bautista Anza National Historic Trail  – Arizona and California = 1,210 miles

8. The Freedom Trail – Boston, Massachusetts = 2.5 miles

9. Sleeping Bear Dunes Heritage Trail – Leelanau County, Michigan = 27 miles upon full completion

10. Central Canal Towpath – Indianapolis, Indiana = 10.5 miles

11. Illinois & Michigan Canal Towpath – across portions of Northern Illinois = 79.5 miles

12. Wabash Heritage Trail – Tippecanoe County, Indiana = 13 miles

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A bicycling oriented motel in Colorado

Looking for bicycle-friendly overnight accommodations that is also reasonably priced? If you’re ever pedaling through Colorado, you might want to check out the Circle R Motel in beautiful Salida.

Loaner bikes and hot tub for guests

This quaint family owned motel provides it’s patrons with bike parking, bikes to borrow for a pedal about town, and an outdoor hot tub to soothe those weary muscles after a day of riding. It even offers discounts to the local aquatic center whose waters are warmed from area hot springs!

Cycling is serious business here in the Rockies, as we saw three hardy riders slowly pedaling there way up the arduous 9,010 foot high Poncha Pass while approaching this mountain respite.

As the photo above depicts, the Circle R Motel is the only lodging I’ve ever seen that includes a bicycle (tandem) included as part of its roadside signage. Kudos to them for that and for being a welcoming friend to bicyclists who are visiting the Salida, Colorado area.

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Trekking Albuquerque’s Paseo del Bosque Trail

View of Sandia Mountains from the trail

We had the opportunity to ride a portion of Albuquerque’s Paseo del Bosque Trail through lovely Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. The paved multi-use trail parallels the Rio Grande River and an irrigation canal along the top of a levee. Off-road biking areas are also available along the corridor. Best of all, the trail offers miles of trail without any street intersections which is great for safe hiking and biking for all ages and abilities, as well as for commuters. If you are ever in Albuquerque and have some extra time, be sure to check out this excellent multi-use trail.

Trail tunnel under the Paseo Del Norte Freeway
Bridge over the irrigation canal
Trailhead signage

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Biking across the Mississippi River on Historic Route 66

View of the bend in the Cabin of Rocks Bridge

This morning my wife and I drove to Choteau Island near Granite City, Illinois. There, we biked along Historic Route 66 over the Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge (1949) and then rode a mile or so along the famed roadway (now the Route 66 Bikeway) to the immense Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (1929) over the mighty Mississippi River and into the State of Missouri. This bridge is unique in that it has has a bend in the middle that angles the structure 22 degrees – something seldom seen in bridges.

Approaching the bend in the bridge and Missouri

The 2,368 foot long Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge currently carries one lane of vehicular traffic that is regulated by signals. The other lane is occupied by a bike lane. Meanwhile the 5,363 foot long Old Chain of Rocks Bridge over the Mississippi River has been closed to motor vehicles since 1968, but was reopened to cyclists and pedestrians in 1998.

Approaching Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge from the east

All told, for the roundtrip we bicycled six (6) miles in 86 degree temps and million percent humidity even at 10:00 a.m. Throughout this post photos are included from this awesome ride that filled with history and folklore. We highly recommend getting off the freeway and pedaling through American History. Enjoy!

View of the Chain of Rocks Canal Bridge from Choteau Island
Illinois Approach to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
Riding the main bridge towards the Mississippi River
Up and over the Mississippi!
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Strolling across Michigan’s longest suspension footbridge

Completed in 2017, the Grand Ravines Bridge is located in Grand Ravines Park South, just outside of Grand Rapids in Jenison, Michigan. This impressive footbridge also allows bicycles, but they must be walked across the structure.

The bridge includes a 240 foot main suspension bridge span between the two towers, as well as two smaller spans for an overall length of 275 feet. One of the special aspects of the bridge is that those crossing the structure are treated to lovely views of the 75 foot deep ravine, which also gives one the impression that they are nearly walking amongst the tree canopy.

The bridge is approximately 1/3 mile to the northeast of the parking lot.

Paved and unpaved trails are located throughout the park and Grand Ravines Park North. In addition there is a large dog park, lots of natural/environmental features, and a restored barn and windmill.

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Strolling across Fort Wayne’s 100-year young footbridge

Foster Park/Lovelock Footbridge looking west

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we ventured to Fort Wayne, Indiana, in part, to stroll across the Foster Park (or Lovelock) Footbridge on the city’s southwest side. The bridge is circa 1920 and has been carrying residents across the St. Marys River to Foster Park for a little over a century. It has a 156 foot main span across the river.

Looking east towards Foster Park

Here are some of our photos, though getting a clear shot was not easy with all the surrounding vegetation. According to Historic Bridges, the suspension bridge is a rare remaining example of a riveted stiffening truss superstructure (they rate it as an 8 out of 10 in significance).

Looking west towards the stairway to Bluffton Road
Closeup of the riveting and cable

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Strolling across a 98-year young pedestrian swinging bridge

During our two weeks in Northern Indiana we visited a number of interesting places. Among them was the lovely Winamac Town Park and its 98-year young suspension/swinging bridge for pedestrians across the Tippecanoe River. Memorial Bridge was completed in 1923 and dedicated on July 4th of that same year. The bridge continues to grace the city’s impressive park and fairgrounds site.

Source: memorialswingingbridge.com

A scale model of the bridge (see photo above) was created by the local Kiwanis Club and is used for parades and other celebratory events. In honor of the bridge’s upcoming 100th birthday, a group known as the Memorial Swing Bridge Project is raising fund to light the bridge in patriotic colors. If you are interested in donating to this fun and worthy effort, here is a weblink to the “Light Up Our Legacy” page.

Source: http://memorialswingingbridge.com/2020/08/13/hello-world/

If you are ever wandering the backroads and non-Interstates of Indiana, be sure to “swing” by the Town of Winamac in Pulaski County and take a leisurely stroll across this handsome bridge in a lovely park. Below are a few more photos from our visit. Peace!

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