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Epic Appalachians

Ride Details

Dates: Aug 16- Sep 10, 2020

Distance: Approx 1300 miles total

Cost: $8200

Rider Level: Intermediate- Advanced

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An exclusive challenge offered only by Cycle of Life Adventures!

In 2020, we are reintroducing our Epic Appalachian cycling tour. We have brought back our former version of the Appalachian Trail and combined it with our Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive. The entire route is reversed, giving you the ideal end of Summer Epic Holiday. The tour starts in rustic and rural western corner of Maine and parallels the Appalachian Trail on low volume surface streets to our termination point in Pisgah National Forest, just south of Asheville, NC. This is an original route designed by Cycle of Life Adventures. This is a 25 day cycling experience that can be done entirely or in halves. The full experience congratulates you with 1,297 miles of riding and 92,225 feet of elevation gain.

The northern segment will include the wilderness of central Maine, the Green and White Mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire. Mt. Washington, the Berkshires of Massachusetts, the Red Mountains of Connecticut Mountains of eastern and central PA and New Jersey, The Delaware Gap, The Pocono Mountains, Harper's Ferry National Park.

After our mid-way break near Harpers Ferry, WV, we then have the hills to contend with. Big hills!   But they are beautiful, lush green and at altitude, so the temperatures will be nice for riding.  Many miles of the southern segment will include the full length 105 miles of Skyline Drive National Park and 460 miles of Blue Ridge Parkway National Parkway.

Right out of the starting gate, you get to experience our favorite ride of this trip, The Kancamagus Highway. The  VT and NH roads will be quiet, because we are ahead the “Leaf Peeper” season.  We visit the Robert Frost Museum and Norman Rockwell Museum. Fruit stands will be busy and apple cider will fill the air in Vermont and the rolling countryside orchards of western Pennsylvania and Maryland. In most minds, one thinks of New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts as being nothing but city. Just 50 miles north of NY city we find some charming, small towns with rolling hills, rivers and great scenery and one of the Vanderbilt mansions. Then you have the thrill of riding your bike across the Hudson River on the walkway bridge. Don't blink your eyes or you will miss our tiny crossing through the state of New Jersey. Through most of Pennsylvania, we hug the valleys between Appalachian range, The Poconos and some parts of the Delaware Water Gap. The beautiful capital city of Harrisburg lends to some comfortable scenic bike trails along the Susquehanna River. And with a break day coming up, we have few days take us into some of our country's most well preserved and educational Civil War Battlefields and the historic town of Harper's Ferry.

While here in the West VA triad, take in the views and relax on your off day. We will now take on Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway where we will be picking up a few additional guests cycling just the southern portion of our tour. Don’t get too self-confident. These folks know what they are getting into and will work seamlessly into your peleton.

The southern portion of this epic journey takes us into a couple of wonderful National Park Inns like The Peaks of Otter, and Big Meadows in VA  and Pisgah Inn in NC.  There are beautiful long-range views from nearly 300 hundred overlooks on Skyline and the Parkway.  The road surfaces are perfectly paved, but you will need bright head lamp and flashing tail lamps to find your way through the 27 tunnels that have been carved into the mountainsides along these roadways. Throw in some water shoes, we ride past cool mountain streams, waterfalls and swimming holes.

Small mountain towns of Meadows of Dan, Fancy Gap, Blowing Rock, and Linville to name a few, will be our resting spots nightly before we wrap up our tour near the vibrant small city of Asheville, NC. Think about meeting family and friends after the tour, stay a few extra days to enjoy local beer scene, the River Arts District and The Biltmore Estate.

Visit these sites for more information about the local areas: Bethel Maine  •  Norman Rockwell • Manchester VT •  Jim Thorpe PA • Gettysburg   • Harper's Ferry WV •  Skyine Drive •  Blue Ridge Pkwy


Price:   $8200   Northern Half $4900 / Southern Half $3900 

Dates: Aug16- Sep 10, 2020  (25 days/ 25 nights, Sun- Thurs) 

Single Room Supplement: $1750  

Bike Rental: Road bike $525  Ebike $750

Travel: If flying in, make your reservations to Portland, Maine International Airport. Pick up will be at baggage claim by 1PM. When flying out, drop off will be by 5PM at Asheville,NC. Do not make reservations before 7PM. If you are driving to our starting hotel location, please arrive by 4PM in time for our bike fitting, social hour and orientation dinner.

Included: All Lodging, transfers to and from the airport, all breakfasts, dinners and picnic lunches on riding days, cocktail social hours on the 1st evening of each tour, van support, maps, GPS mapping, mechanic, 2 or more experienced guides

Special Note* This tour has different starting and finishing cities. Please book flights into Portland, ME and returning flights from Asheville, NC 

Please send a ride profile 


Day 1 - Bethel, ME - Conway, NH  (49 miles) 1939 elevation gain

Highlights:  Today's ride takes us out of Bethel with nice rural routes along the Androscoggin and Saco Rivers. There is one climb today before we ride across the Maine- New Hampshire border a few times. Enjoy the White Mountain National Forest scenery near Gorham, NH. Tonight’s accommodations are right in Conway and walking distance to several restaurants and a 5 minute drive from outlet shopping.

Accommodations: Starting hotel Rostay Inn, Bethel ME   Scenic Inn, Conway NH- Casual Inn

Day 2 - Conway - Woodville, NH  (60 miles) 4027 elevation gain

Highlights: Our ride today is challenging. First 18 miles is a steady uphill of 1 -3%, then 5 mile finale to the top of Kankamangus Highway. All downhill following the rocky riverbed to a riverside picnic lunch near Loon Resort. Weather permitting, views of Mt. Washington, Mt LaFayette. Enjoy a short walk about in Lost River Gorge before heading into Woodville.

Accommodations: Nookta Lodge Casual

Day 3 -  Woodville, NH - Woodstock, VT  (57 miles) 2868 elevation gain

Highlights: Today we hug the Vermont/New Hampshire state line along the very scenic Connecticut River. Great lunch stop on the Green in Hanover, home to Dartmouth University. We cross the river into Vermont and now follow the White River before sneaking in the back way to Woodstock, VT.  Quechee Gorge and Simon Pierce Glass blowing are wonderful stops. Today's ride is rolling hills and a few small climbs.

Accommodations: Shire Inn  Casual, riverside, intown

Day 4 - Woodstock, VT - Manchester, VT (56 miles)  3989 elevation gain

Highlights: Before leaving town, try to visit the Billings Farm Museum and walk the downtown streets. Today’s ride in another challenging day with 2 big climbs near Okemo and Bromley Ski Resorts. But, nice downhill riding as well. Our home for the night is in Manchester Center with upscale outlet stores, the Orvis flagship store, fly fishing clinics, and fine dining possibilities.

Accommodations: Palmer House Resort Casual

Day 5 - Manchester Center, VT - Pittsfield, MA (69 miles) 3500 in elevation gain

Highlights: Riding today with lots of rolling hills in both VT and MA. We travel along the Housatonic River and through small western Massachusetts towns of Adams and North Adams. We are crossing the Appalachian trail several times today and following the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail before coming into Pittsfield for our rest day.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn and Suites Downtown  Business Class

Day 6 - Day off the bikes

Highlights: Activities could include, tour of Oliver Wendell Holmes home, Hancock Shaker Village, Norman Rockwell Museum, local hikes and mountain bike tours in the Berkshires.

Day 7 - Pittsfield, MA - Sharon, CT (57 miles) 2189 elevation gain

Highlight: The long scenic riverside ride along the Housatonic River and the lowest points on the Appalachian Trail are just steps away from our route at various points today. The ride is relatively easy as we follow the valley through the beautiful Massachusetts and Connecticut towns of Lenox, Stockbridge, Great Barrington, North Canaan and a lunch break at the charming Historical Society Park in Sheffield.

Accommodations: Sharon Country Inn Casual

Day 8 - Sharon, CT - New Platz, NY (52 miles) 3353 elevation gain

Highlights: We pick up our sixth state in just eight days. Early today we cross into NY. We ride some nicely paved roads near Clinton Corners and have 2 miles of packed gravel to avoid the highways. There are long stretches of beautiful farms. Our lunch stop today is the FDR Historic home site.  Nearby is The Vanderbilt Mansion and the Culinary Institute of America, Rhinebeck, Hyde Park and West Point Academy can be seen as you ride across the Hudson River on the walkway bridge. This once railway bridge is open as a pedestrian crossing of the Hudson. We now use part of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to make our way to our nightly hotel.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn  Business Class

Day 9 - New Platz, NY - Milford, PA (64 miles) 2882 elevation gain

Highlights: We will rack up two more states today, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Today’s ride takes us along the Neversink, WallKill and Shawangunk Kill Rivers. We have several portions on NY rail trail systems in Walden and Goshen NY. There are fine examples of older rail bridges along the route. The route is rolling and follows the valley again today with one climb over the Appalachian ridge and into the small town of Milford, PA

Accommodations: Laurel Vill Country Inn Casual

Day 10 Milford, PA – Jim Thorpe, PA (72 miles) 4039 elevation gain

Highlights:  Again today, we will parallel the Appalachian Trail for most of the route. If you look over your left should the AT will follow the ridge on the opposite side of the Delaware River. We have a beautiful ride all morning along the Delaware River with a lunch stop at the Minisink Archaeological Site by the Delaware Rive Gap. As we pull away from the river, the afternoon takes us through fertile farmlands and the lush green Pocono Mountains. Our stop for the evening is the town of Jim Thorpe. Named for the Olympic athlete, the town once known as Maulk Chunk was the site of coal mining along the Appalachians and brought out by steam engines along the Lehigh River.

Accommodations:  Jim Thorpe Inn Historic Casual

Day 11 – Jim Thorpe, PA - North Harrisburg, PA (81 miles) 3792 elevation gain

Highlights: Today is just more beautiful rolling farmlands and barns in the PA Dutch Country. We parallel the mountain range and skirt in and out of once thriving mining town of Schuykill Haven. Much of the local industry now lends itself to farming and small service towns, as well as popular tourist attractions as Hershey Park. We follow part of the Swatara Rail Trail to our stopping point of Grantville

Accommodations:  Comfort Suites  Casual

Day 12 – North Harrisburg, PA - Gettysburg, PA (52 miles) 1935 elevation gain

Highlights: The Capital City bike trail follows the beautiful water font of the Susquehanna River. There you will see an abundance of retired and operational train bridges, tunnels and newly renovated recreational paths. Riding for the day is a small gradual uphill from the river valley, then rural farmland and small Pennsylvania farming towns to our destination of historic Gettysburg. There we will stay downtown and take in some of the Battlefield today and tomorrow before we leave for Harper’s Ferry WV

Accommodations:  Inn at Cemetery Hill  Casual

Day 13- Gettysburg, PA - Harper's Ferry, WV (56 miles) 2220 elevation gain

Highlights: Today we gain two more states, Maryland and West Virginia. We travel more back roads through farm land and around battlefield of Boonsboro and Gettysburg. We avoild the busy city of Frederick, Md by staying in more residential and farming communities which parallel the new interstate and highway systems. We use part of the C&O Towpath to make our way into downtown Harper’s Ferry for two nights off.

Accommodations:  Quality Inn  Casual

Total Miles for this first segment: 735.5 Total Elevation gain: 32,637 ft

Day 14 - off Bike day

Highlights:  Short day-trip into the historic area of Harper’s Ferry, Appalachian Trail and C&O Tow Path and Museums. Transportation can be arranged to see more of the battle fields and other area attractions.

Day 15 – Harper’s Ferry, WV – Front Royal, VA (49 miles) 2504 elevation gain

Highlights: Scenic riding in the valley along the river in Shenandoah National Park.

Accommodations: Hampton Inn Downtown Casual

Day 16 – Front Royal, VA – Big Meadows, Skyline Dr (52 miles) 7151 elevation gain

Highlights: This is the first of the “Big" riding days. Here we start the Skyline National Parkway with spectacular scenery at numerous overlooks and a wonderful dinner at the National Park Lodge.

Accommodations  Big Meadows Lodge National Park Casual

Day 17 – Big Meadows, VA – Waynesboro, VA (55 miles) 4232 elevation gain

Highlights: This is day two of Skyline Drive. We have numerous crossings of the Appalachian Trail, quiet, and low volume traffic on very nicely paved roads. There is no commercial traffic and no billboards on Skyline Drive. We take Skyline to it’s terminus, where the next morning we start our venture southbound on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Accommodations: Best Western Plus Casual

Day 18 – Blue Ridge Parkway entrance – Buena Vista (45 miles) 4921 elevation gain

Highlights: The Blue Ridge Parkway was a Civilian Conservation Corp project started on September 11, 1935 for the purpose of connecting Shenandoah National Park to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There are 26 tunnels on the Blue Ridge Pkwy, one in Virginia and the remaining 25 in North Carolina. Today, you will take on the first 45 miles of this 469 miles of beautiful scenic roadway. “ America’s Favorite Drive”.

Accommodations:  Country Inns & Suites Lexington  Casual

Day 19 – Day off bikes

Highlights: The historic town of Lexington, VA. Horse capital of VA, Natural Bridge Park, Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute. Do get lots of rest. The next two days are strenuous.

Day 20 – Buena Vista , VA– US 460 Peaks of Otter National Park Lodge (61 miles) 5810 elevation gain

Highlights: Falling Waters Cascade, 15 overlooks, spectacular lodge setting at The Peaks of Otter National Parks Lodge. On today’s route you will be at the lowest and highest elevations of the Virginia portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. That means some hill climbing.

Accommodations:  Peaks of Otter Lodge National Park Service Casual upscale

Day 21 – Peaks of Otter, VA – Meadows of Dan, VA (72 miles) 7828 elevation gain

Highlights: Big climbs out of the Roanoke area of the Blue Ridge Pkwy. Due to heavy rains in Spring of 2020, we will have a detour from mile post 112 to 136 to reroute us around a road-wash and land slide. Specific Stopping points are Mabry Mill and Rocky Knob Visitors Center and overlook.

Accommodations  Woodbury Inn  Rustic Casual

Day 22 – Meadows of Dan, VA – Glendale Springs, NC (82 miles) 7047 elevation gain

Highlights: Great quiet riding of the VA section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, 18 overlooks.  Some of the quietest and most rural parts of the Blueridge Parkway. Cross into NC. If you ever get the opportunity, come back one summer evening to enjoy an outdoor music presentation at the Blue Ridge Music Center located at the state line.

Accommodations:  New River Inns and Cabins

Day 23 – Glendale Springs, NC – Linville Falls, NC (61 miles) 6376 elevation gain

Highlights:  Great riding of the Blue Ridge Pkwy. Linville Falls, the most viewed water falls along the parkway. Moses Cone Manor Museum, Arts and craft center housed inside of the manor home for Moses Cone, the Levi Straus of the east coast. Famous Linn Cove Viaduct was the last 7.5 mile section on the Parkway completed in 1987. This is 52 years after the start of the BRP. Grandfather Mountain was private property and the owner would not give the National Park Service permission to dig on his mountain. Thus, the suspended Linn Viaduct.

Accommodations:   Linville Falls Lodge  Rustic

Day 24 – Linville Falls, NC – Asheville, NC (68 miles) 7709 elevation gain

Highlights: Blue Ridge cycling, Little Switzerland, multiple tunnels, Crab Tree Falls, Mt Mitchell if you choose. Enjoy a nice evening out in downtown Asheville. My favorite small city in America. This vibrant downtown is packed with art, culture and dining opportunities ranging from upscale Tapas Bars to gourmet tacos. America’s largest private home, Biltmore is located in Asheville.

Accommodations   Sheraton Downtown  Business Casual

Day 25 – Asheville, NC – Pisgah National Forest, Pisgah Inn (24.8 miles) 4394 elevation gain and an additional 62 mile, 6000 ft of elevation ride into Cherokee, NC  to the terminus of the Blue Ridge Pkwy for those interested.

Highlights: Blue Ridge Parkway riding, 10 tunnels, beautiful spot atop Pisgah Mountain for lunch at the lodge. We then continue on for those who want “EFI” of the Epic Appalachians before we lodge at the Pisgah Lodge for our final evening together.

Accommodations:   Pisgah Lodge  National Park Lodge

Pat yourself on the back! You have just completed 657 miles and 67,778 ft of elevation gain on this southern segment.

Total for The Epic Appalachian is 1,393 miles and 100,415 ft of elevation gain.

Average daily riding mileage is 72. Average elevation gain daily is 4,016.