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  1. #1

    Default Self Shuttle question

    I day hiked the Florida Trail by self shuttling using an electric bicycle. Park my car, e-bike along roads, hike the trail back to my car, find a motel for the evening. I did this over 5 years and completed the FT.

    I am thinking of something similar for portions of the AT, especially in summer when I don't care to camp. Some sections of the AT will be more traditional backpacking trips (HMW, etc.), some sections I would like to do as day hikes. I have already day hiked the AT through the Shenandoah National Park using paid shuttles and have another section planned soon. This is fine except sometimes finding a shuttle is difficult. The terrain (hills) have me thinking even an electric bike would be quite a challenge. So I'm contemplating a scooter or small motorcycle. In particular, the Honda Metropolitan (49cc) or the Honda Super Cub (125cc). Max weight would be me and a day pack so less than 220 pounds. I am aware neither motorbike is suited for interstate travel. It's been years since I owned a motorcycle however I am still licensed. I have no experience with scooters beyond renting one on a Greek island years ago.

    So my question requires knowledge of the AT, nearby roads and small motorcycles/scooters.

    My question is, does this sound like a do-able plan for significant portions of the AT? Are the hills too much for either option? Are the distances greater than I anticipate? How much of the AT could be handled by a small scooter? Are there any places where they would be illegal?

    I suspect either option would have handled the SNP but it might have been slow going, especially for the 49cc. But again, I have little experience with scooters.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    I day hiked the Florida Trail by self shuttling using an electric bicycle. Park my car, e-bike along roads, hike the trail back to my car, find a motel for the evening. I did this over 5 years and completed the FT.

    I am thinking of something similar for portions of the AT, especially in summer when I don't care to camp. Some sections of the AT will be more traditional backpacking trips (HMW, etc.), some sections I would like to do as day hikes. I have already day hiked the AT through the Shenandoah National Park using paid shuttles and have another section planned soon. This is fine except sometimes finding a shuttle is difficult. The terrain (hills) have me thinking even an electric bike would be quite a challenge. So I'm contemplating a scooter or small motorcycle. In particular, the Honda Metropolitan (49cc) or the Honda Super Cub (125cc). Max weight would be me and a day pack so less than 220 pounds. I am aware neither motorbike is suited for interstate travel. It's been years since I owned a motorcycle however I am still licensed. I have no experience with scooters beyond renting one on a Greek island years ago.

    So my question requires knowledge of the AT, nearby roads and small motorcycles/scooters.

    My question is, does this sound like a do-able plan for significant portions of the AT? Are the hills too much for either option? Are the distances greater than I anticipate? How much of the AT could be handled by a small scooter? Are there any places where they would be illegal?

    I suspect either option would have handled the SNP but it might have been slow going, especially for the 49cc. But again, I have little experience with scooters.

    Thank you.
    I have no experience with scooters, but you'll have to deal with a wide variance of road distance, and you may not always want to park a scooter or a car at some of the road crossings.

    For example, in GSMNP, you have to hike about 40 miles from road crossing to road crossing, and its a very long road trip (more than 40 miles) between points up and down many hills.

    Whether it's doable or not I can't say. But you'll probably tire of the method and find yourself reverting to traditional shuttles.

  3. #3

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    Yes, I anticipate the GSMNP would be a regular backpack trip reserved for cooler fall weather.

    Iím thinking of much of MA, CT, NY, NJ, PA, etc

  4. #4

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    It depends on your tolerance. its not a good fit for the AT in Maine as many of the shuttles that cover 4 or 5 days or trail hiking can be 50 to 100 miles on roads without wide shoulders, it can be perilous riding with logging trucks flying by with near zero clearance. The road network tends to follow rivers and they typically head north to south while the AT runs east to west and good east to west roads with bridges over rivers are hard to find. There are on occasion gravel logging roads going east to west so whatever you are riding would need to be good on gravel or switch to longer roads on pavement but no matter what at least part of your rides will be on gravel. Runs to town and resupply points are also long.

    I also think a small motorcycle may be an attractive thing from a theft perspective. The cash market is probably good for small bikes and not a lot of questions asked. They are easy to slide in the back of pickup. I did know someone who used a small street legal trail motorcycle that he carried on the back of his pickup truck for day hiking in the whites and that was good fit for him, I plan to do the same with an E mountain bike for day hikes. I can lay it down in some brush near a trailhead and its likely it will not be disturbed, I can throw the controller in my pack and its effectively bricked.

  5. #5
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    I've been doing this for almost 20 years w/ a 49cc Honda Elite. Chain the scooter to a tree in the woods and throw a camo cover over it. No problems.

    IMG_2588.jpgIMG_2629.jpg
    Be Prepared

  6. #6

    Default

    It is doable, I have met a few people that successfully section hike the AT this way. I have spent thousands of bucks in shuttles over the years. With what I spent on shuttles and rental cars I could have bought a real nice street dirt bike and enjoyed the back roads of the east coast. I would definitely count an electric bike and scooter OUT for a lot of the trail, but a street legal dirt bike could cover 100% of it.

    Example 1: Springer Mtn Trailhead, GA to Neel Gap: 1 hr 22min drive. Going to be a $60+ shuttle and is a section that can be tough to schedule shuttle due to demand. On forrest service road for 50% of the drive. Mountainous. Dirtbike would be dandy, scooter/ bike: I think not.
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 148.0
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  7. #7
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    Buy a used one and then cover it w/ stickers. Don't get anything someone wants to steal. It goes 45mph downhill; 25mph uphill no matter how steep. If you have to go on a big road, drive on the shoulder.
    Be Prepared

  8. #8

    Default

    This is useful. Your setup is very much what I was thinking.

    Are license plates and/or insurance required for the scooter?

    How long is your average day hike shuttle?

    Also a tongue weight question. Does a 350lb tongue rating mean I can load a 50lb hitch rack and 240lb motorcycle and a few straps with a 50lb margin of safety? Or does the length of the hitch rack add torque to the equation?


    I used a cable with lock and a note on my e-bike and never had a problem along the FT. I always left it in the open, never hidden.



    Hopefully this was my last edit.
    Last edited by perrymk; 07-28-2021 at 13:28.

  9. #9

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    Most shuttles for the AT will be 30 min to 1.5 hour
    Trail Miles: 4,317.5 - AT Trips: 72
    AT Map 1: 2193.1 Complete 2013-2021
    AT Map 2: 270.2
    Sheltowee Trace Map: 148.0
    BMT Map: 52.7
    Pinhoti Trail Map: 31.5

  10. #10
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    I'd think it would be feasible for much of the MA section.

    There are fairly frequent road crossings where you could pick up/drop off, so you might even be able to do much as a series of day hikes.

    Quite a few of the intersections with roads are smaller back roads, and for a good chunk with a decent map (if you can still find a Jimapco Berkshire County one - they are locally made in NY State but unfortunately looks like they are heading for retirement so not all counties may be available) there are lots of interconnecting back roads that would be easier to ride on (smaller but lower traffic - some may have more elevation changes, though).

    CT may be harder - trail runs along US 7 much of the time and I don't now

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    know if there are the same amount of connecting roads (as 7 tends to parallel the Housatonic in many spots, which may limit side streets).

  12. #12

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    One hassle may be licensing, I dont think the license and road rules for mopeds and scooters are the same state to state. I think some states limit them to roads with posted speed limit below some certain amount which could be problem. My friends Honda Trail 70 was the smallest motor cycle that could be registered as a motor cycle in NH. He had to have a regular motorcycle license but could go on any road he dared. There are also street legal dirt bikes out there better suited for dirt roads.

  13. #13

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    Good points. I have been reviewing license and insurance requirements online. It appears both of my choices are street legal, not necessarily highway legal. I believe highway/interstate legal needs 250cc. Some states require insurance, some donít. I believe that as long as I register and insure it in my home state (Florida) I should be ok.

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by perrymk View Post
    This is useful. Your setup is very much what I was thinking.

    Are license plates and/or insurance required for the scooter?

    How long is your average day hike shuttle?

    Also a tongue weight question. Does a 350lb tongue rating mean I can load a 50lb hitch rack and 240lb motorcycle and a few straps with a 50lb margin of safety? Or does the length of the hitch rack add torque to the equation?


    I used a cable with lock and a note on my e-bike and never had a problem along the FT. I always left it in the open, never hidden.



    Hopefully this was my last edit.
    You'd be fine with that weight and tongue rating. Plus the manufacturers know you are putting something on the rack. The car will drive better if you can keep the weight closer to the back of the car itself and weight centered (left to right). I think you'd have more road trouble with the loaded hitch on the backroads. I drove my Dad a number of times-in FL no less-with his "scooter" on a back rack. By "scooter" I mean electric wheelchair. It could have been the specifics of the installation, components, and vehicle, but it would occasionally drag coming out of a parking lot or driveway. It road low. The rack was dealer installed.
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  15. #15
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    I ran into a guy in Rutland who was section hiking the LT using a small pickup and dirt bike. He gave me a ride into town from the LT Inn.
    More walking, less talking.

  16. #16
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    I think your plan would definitely work for Rockfish Gap in VA up through MA. Not sure about the rest of the trail... it's a little more remote and it would be hard to get between road crossings in a day on some sections. GSMNP and the 100 mile wilderness in ME would probably be the biggest challenges logistically.
    It's all good in the woods.

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    I can't speak to the tongue weight stuff. Since March 2003, I've been doing this w/ a Ford Explorer, Subaru Outback & now Toyota 4Runner.

    Licensing depends on the state. When I started, many AT states considered anything under 50cc NOT to require a license. That has changed. I do not have a motorcycle license, license plate or insurance. No one has bothered me. I stay on back, back roads and usually pull over if cars come up behind me where there is no shoulder. I only had one redneck give me the business in PA. I waive, honk the silly horn and smile. I look so ridiculous on a purple scooter covered in stickers that most reciprocate.

    I not only use this for day hikes but for week long treks. 70 miles is the furthest I've driven myself. I had to take a break b/c it is tiring to ride after awhile. Over the years I almost wrecked several times. Each time it was on a turn that was sharper than I expected. It isn't a bicycle (heavier). It isn't a motorcycle (brakes). It's its own thing.

    For day hikes I can ride wearing my daypack. For overnights the pack gets chained to the tree under the camo cover while I go for the vehicle.

    And make sure you get a model that has a locking space under the seat. When locked to a tree it houses your helmet, glasses, gloves, etc. When riding, it houses your chain, lock & camo cover.

    My last .02 is buy something made in Japan, not China. My 1999 Honda Elite 50 now has 5000+ miles on it. The Chinese scooters fall apart after a few years and 500 miles. No joke.

    Happy trails!
    Be Prepared

  18. #18
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    I’d get the 125 cc enduro on off road bike. You will need a motorcycle license though.

  19. #19

    Default

    Thanks for the information everyone. I think I'm getting a better handle on what my needs are, and what can meet those needs.

    In the short term I plan to stick with my 2014 Chevy Sonic. It runs great and still gets 38-40mpg depending on conditions. But with 130K miles I know I need to keep abreast of what else is out there. I am recently retired and am spending more time hiking and doing trail maintenance so better ground clearance and possible hauling equipment (mowers, motorbike, etc.) is becoming more important than simple transportation. Although I can fit a mower in the back if the handle folds. However, I plan to do the HMW soon using hired shuttles so the long (3 day) drive is best done with my 40mpg car. Over the winter I will attempt the other non-day-hike friendly sections with hired shuttles.

    Once the weather warms I prefer day hiking.

    In the long term I will focus on what vehicles best suit my needs. Right now it's a toss up between a Toyota Rav4 Adventure or TRD (3500lb tow rating vs 1500lb for base model) or a Subaru Outback Onyx (3500lb tow rating vs 2700lb for base model). The Toyota is 10 inches shorter overall so might still fit in my garage. I may have difficulty getting the Subaru in my garage unless I lose my workbench. Small pickups are a possibility but they won't fit inside the garage and the gas mileage suffers. I'm also considering mpg when not hauling a motorbike.

    I pretty much settled on a Honda motorbike for the reliability as mentioned by Blackcloud earlier. I believe the Super Cub is made in Thailand but its the most popular motorbike in the world, probably for a reason. There is a trail version that is tempting too. A nice comparison is here. The Metropolitan is still a consideration.

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