ergo
OK, this is the genesis of a trip idea for four of us.  We live in Tennessee, and I really want to ride the George Mickelson Trail.  My tentative plan is to drive 1,400 miles to Edgemont, take a shuttle to Deadwood and ride back in two days.  On the way back, I'd love to stop for a day in KS/NE for a day.  My impression is there are gravel roads everywhere.  Would like to spend a day riding 50-60 miles.  Any suggestions where to make this trip from?  Ideally it would be about halfway between our home and the trail, which would be somewhere North of Kansas City.  The car route would take I29 and then I80 so proximity to that corridor is a plus.  I've done the Katy trail twice and thought about doing the westernmost part I haven't done, (KC to Sedalia and Sedalia to Clinton), but a nice day loop in KS/NE would be good to.  Any suggestions or links to sites w/ good info?  Best bet where to start the ride?  Thanks!
Quote 0 0
GHC
There are literally gravel roads everywhere in central Kansas and Nebraska and South Dakota.  For a short 50-60 mile ride .... pick any relatively small town with a place to stay/amenities you like and google earth (or whatever map pref you have) on satellite view and pick your gravel route.  Easy Peasy  

Or as an alternative, go through/stay in Lincoln NE.  During the summer hotels there are cheap and the Hay Market area downtown has a lot of cold drink/food options.  About every hotel chain imaginable along the interstate.. Last years Gravel Worlds routes (150 and 75) are still online, routes start at a brew pub on the north side of town, parking not a problem....pick your poison.  Both routes represent midwestern gravel roads well = not flat.   https://gravel-worlds.com/the-courses/

Conv store in Valparaiso (and others listed in the verbaige)
Quote 0 0
GHC
Adding..... if you decide on Lincoln on your way back....for a change of scenery take the 385 south in western SD south to I80 then head east ...through Lincoln.   Pretty country out there, gets you off the Interstate treadmill for a little while. 
Quote 0 0
GHC
Lastly....another option is the Cowboy Trail.   On your return trip, take I90 east, to the 83 south....which will run you through Valentine NE (end of cowboy trail).   The trail isn't gravel roads, but it is a neat converted rail trail.    I haven't been on it for a few years (so call/check current conditions), but was a nice ride last time I was on it. 

Get back on the interstate (80) in Grand Island. 

Hope these options help. 

https://bikecowboytrail.com/
Quote 0 0
GHC
I lied with the "lastly" lol.   

Here is another one..... Wabash Trace Trail.   Trail head in Council Bluffs Iowa (east Omaha).....parking not a problem.    It's another converted rail line.....but once you get past Mineola while riding on the trail (approx 10 miles out), it crosses gravel roads every mile or two......so you can divert from the gently slopping trail and bang gravel to your hearts content and circle back to the trail to get back to your vehicle.    Or stay on the trail, it's a fun one.....circled by trees most of the way.   

Noting....on Thursday evenings there is a taco ride that starts at the Council bluffs trail head and the taco's are at a bar/grill in Mineola.   Very well attended party in the summer.  If you are there on a thursday evening....plan on a huge crowd of bikers for the first 12 miles and a tight parking lot at the trail head.   The rest of the week, you will pretty much literally have the trail to yourselves, particularly during work hours. 

The trail goes next to a few very small country towns for refreshments or water.   Toby Jacks (home of the taco ride/margaritaville) in Mineola, others listed in the stopping points link below.   There is also public water hydrant on the trail by a white gazebo in Silver city if you want to avoid restaurants for whatever reason.    

Again, there are tons of gravel roads you can divert to off this trail, particularly the further south you go. 
 
https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/iowa/wabash-trace-nature-trail
https://www.tobeyjacks.com/
https://www.wabashtrace.org/stopping-points
https://www.wabashtrace.org/trail-map
Quote 0 0
GHC
Hope these help ..... Three solid options, but if my vote counts lol, I'd do whichever Gravel World route you have the time for.
Quote 0 0
ergo
Hey GHC, thanks for the GREAT information.  Those all look like fantastic options.  I think Lincoln NE would be our best bet, as it's closest to the middle of our trip.  We could ride the GM trail and ride a day in Lincoln and be back in seven days.  Or add another day of riding in Lincoln.

The Worlds loops are probably too much for me.  We're a group of drinkers with a cycling problem, all in our mid 50s or older.  Even the 75er may be too much for me.  Those rollers look punishing, although we're coming from the hills of East Tennessee.  But it looked like we could cut the 150er down to a more reasonable ride to fit our mileage desires and it sounds like there are options galore.  

Of all of your suggestions, which is the most scenic?  And are parts of the Wabash Trace paved?  If the I80/385 and I90 routes are close in mileage, we'd probably go a different route each way.  Total mileage to Edgemont SD is a bit over 1,400 miles for us.

Thanks again for all of your help!

 
Quote 0 0
GHC
Re Worlds cut down loops.   Yes, you can tailor either route to what you like...options galore.  For example on the 75 mile route, the two roads that parallel each other from roughly mile 20 and back to Valparaiso/mile 50 .....they run two miles apart.....so you can pretty much cut across to shorten route at will and cut out some rollers.   Little Conv store in Valparaiso for water.  

Which is most scenic?  Well idk, depends what you aren't used to I guess.  The cowboy trail starting in Valentine has a couple bridges and a river, and the views will mostly be prairie grass and some ag fields = very similar to what you will see on your trip out there. (Been a while since I have been on it up there, so my description is likely not doing it justice)    The World loops will be midwestern gravel roads surrounded by ag fields, and very small towns depending on your route.   The Wabash trail you are circled/protected by trees 75% of the time with ag fields beyond the trees, until you get to the small towns  (most of which have a bar and/or restaurant with a bar)   The Wabash is crushed limestone with a couple of miles of concrete at the little towns.   It's a nice trail!

Re Lincoln....So Lincoln is home of the University of Nebraska and the Cornhuskers , and the state capital.   As a result, the city is set up to handle a full student load plus the influx of fans on game day.   The Hay Market area downtown is where a lot of bars and eateries are.  When students are off for the summer, the area is very accessible and a much slower pace.   There is also a pretty extensive concrete bike trail system in lincoln that is attached to a couple crushed limestone converted rail trails leaving the city (The mopac trail east or west) if a more leisurely ride is in order.  https://www.gptn.org/the_trails/overview.html

Regarding trip time .... regardless of what the mileage says, the I90 route is the quickest way to deadwood.   Speed limit on I90 in South Dakota is 80 on the interstate and everyone (sans trucks and campers) drives 88.....you can make time up there!   Also I90 has every quirky tourist trap (Wall Drug / Corn Palace / etc) along the interstate.  Cutting through western nebraska will take approximately 1.5 to 2 hrs longer (but you get to see some different country).   Going one route up and one route back is a good idea imo.  Some quirky quick stops on the western nebraska route might include Carhenge (free) in Alliance, NE  or Ole's Big Game Steakhouse and Lounge in Paxton. 

IF you end up in Lincoln and have any bike needs, there are a number of good shops.  For example, Cycle Works on N27th street can fix you up, and they host Gravel Worlds Expo every year ..... so they can add addition trail/route info too....friendly bunch.   

IF you target the Wabash and you plan to overnight,  I'd either stay near the Old Market area in Omaha  (bars, old brick roads) in downtown Omaha, or if you like to gamble, at the Horseshoe casino in council bluffs.    Or stay in a chain you like on the Omaha side of the river....there is a nice Hilton in downtown omaha, and every chain you can imagine on the I80 Corridor through Omaha starting 15 miles west of downtown by a cabelas.

Id' say do the World route (partial or otherwise) if you and your group want a gravel route and bit of a challenge and are down with a little self navigating, or do the Wabash (and enjoy the locals and refreshments at at least one of the small towns) if you want a flater trail ride offering more protection from the sun/wind should that be the case when you are there.  


My unsolicited friendly vote remains..... when in Rome, do as the Romans do.  When in the midwest .... experience the gravel roads.   But you seriously can't go wrong either way, you're riding with friends.      


Hope this helps and hope you have an awesome trip!!!  
Quote 0 0
GHC
lol...not exactly sure why the bottom half hyperlinked.... ignore that lol

Also, I almost forgot the biggest tips I can give you.  First, there has been a lot of flooding this year on the Missouri river.   I29 between Kansas City and Omaha, and I29 in and just north of Council Bluffs has been closed a couple times for repair or danger.    I think they are open now, and chances are you'll be gtg, but check internet as your trip time approaches ..... they are major corridors, so the priority is to keep them open ..... just thought I would mention it. 

But to the point.... DO NOT speed on I29 in or nearing Sioux City.   People will be flying past you ..... let them go.   Two auto camera speed traps up there on I29 in Sioux City, typically on each side of the city, but they move them around ...... ticket(s) will eventually show up in in your mail box ......  so back it down around Sioux City on the 29.  😉

Lastly .... The annual Sturgis motorcycle rally is Aug 2 - Aug 11 this year.   It gets pretty .... ah, let's say interesting and really busy traffic... up there around this time frame....things start picking up steam starting a week prior to official rally through the end.
Quote 0 0
adjuster11
Not sure of your time frame.

There's this

https://gravelcyclist.com/event/robidoux-quick-and-dirty-gering-nebraska/
Quote 0 0