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Author Topic: Straight through the Appalachians?  (Read 2550 times)

hbelkins

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Straight through the Appalachians?
« on: July 06, 2022, 12:30:21 PM »

I've long wondered what would be the ideal road trip from west to east (or vice versa) across the Appalachians.

Ideally, the route would stay as true E-W as possible without any significant northward or southward deviations.

Even more ideally, you would stay on the same numbered route the whole way.

I always default to US 50, starting in Cincinnati and working east all the way to the DC area.

I think I-80 from Youngstown to the NYC metro is also a good candidate.

Using various route numbers, KY 100 east from Franklin to Burkesville, then KY 90 to Monticello, KY 92 to Pineville, a short jog south on US 25E, then US 58 all the way across Virginia to at least South Boston.

The idea would be to get a good experience with the geography of the trip. You wouldn't get as much of a feel for the social aspects of the towns you pass through on I-80, but you'd get a better idea on a route like US 50 because the road passes through so many smaller towns.

Anyone else got any ideas or opinions to offer?
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Dirt Roads

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2022, 01:19:47 PM »

I've long wondered what would be the ideal road trip from west to east (or vice versa) across the Appalachians.

Ideally, the route would stay as true E-W as possible without any significant northward or southward deviations.

Even more ideally, you would stay on the same numbered route the whole way.

I always default to US 50, starting in Cincinnati and working east all the way to the DC area.

I think I-80 from Youngstown to the NYC metro is also a good candidate.

Using various route numbers, KY 100 east from Franklin to Burkesville, then KY 90 to Monticello, KY 92 to Pineville, a short jog south on US 25E, then US 58 all the way across Virginia to at least South Boston.

The idea would be to get a good experience with the geography of the trip. You wouldn't get as much of a feel for the social aspects of the towns you pass through on I-80, but you'd get a better idea on a route like US 50 because the road passes through so many smaller towns.

Anyone else got any ideas or opinions to offer?

Considering that the poorest part of Appalachia is actually in southeastern Ohio, my recommendation is following OH-7 along the Ohio River until it becomes US-33 at Rock Springs and following US-33 across all of West Virginia.  You get a smattering of all sorts of interesting terrain that you won't experience on any of the other routes.  Sadly, this route now has you hop onto I-77 for a short spell (you could stray over onto the old US-33 route from Mason to Ripley if you want to stick to the smaller roads).  If you haven't done US-33 between Elkins and Harrisonburg, the scenery is more than worth the price of gasoline.
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Rothman

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2022, 01:29:46 PM »

I agree with US 50.  I know PA is in the Appalachians, but thinking about going across the Appalachians, I think more WV than PA.
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skluth

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2022, 01:52:26 PM »

I took a fair number of trips between St Louis and Norfolk during my four years in Tidewater. I-64 got boring very quickly. My favorite drive across the Appalachians started west on US 48 from I-81. I took I-79 and I-64 the rest of the way but I've also driven OH 32 from Cincy to Serpent Mound and would recommend that (connecting via US 50) if convenient. Another decent route is west on US 58 to Cumberland Gap, north on US 23 and I-75 to KY 80, then west on KY 80 and US 68 to the Kentucky Lakes region. I also took the Mountain Parkway in KY once, then zigzagged to US 460 to Blacksburg VA. For more northern trips, I-86/88 is a relaxing trip through NY State.

I-80 is fast and convenient but you really don't experience the land you're driving through.
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hbelkins

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2022, 12:07:47 PM »

Obviously, I've done most of these drives in bits and pieces (including the OH 7/US 33 route) but I was thinking more along the lines of a continuous trip and getting the full range of the geography (and to a lesser extent, the sociology) one would encounter on such a trip.

I drove US 50 from the Loogootee, Ind. area straight through Cincinnati to Chillicothe as part of a clinching effort several years ago; I had already been on the two-lane portion of US 50 between Chillicothe and where it joins Corridor D. I've also done Corridor D in its entirety, but not all at once.

I-64's north-south concurrencies with I-77 and I-81 take it off my list for consideration.
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SP Cook

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2022, 12:35:04 PM »

- US 50, the current version of the Northwestern Turnpike, would be the classic E-W route.  Although I would think a good southern alternative is KY 80 and US 460 (the final parts of which are finally being built)

- The poorest parts of Appalachia are certainly not SE Ohio.  The ARC classifies only 5 Ohio counties as “distressed” .  The poorest counties are those in the region where WV, VA, KY and TN come together. 
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froggie

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2022, 11:17:10 PM »

I like the idea of US 64...with or without some "side routing" along US 74 (to minimize N-S deviation).  I think this meets the spirit of what HB was looking for.  It certainly has the geography, complete with gorge/ravine travel.
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wriddle082

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2022, 11:53:30 PM »

I’m a fan of US 60 from Winchester, KY to Richmond, VA.  Since much of it is forgotten between Winchester and the outskirts of Ashland, its pretty peaceful.  Mostly urban and suburban chaos from Ashland to Charleston, but a smattering of rust belt industry here and there, especially along the Kanawha River up to about Belle, WV.  Then pretty peaceful the rest of the way until the outskirts of Richmond.  I recently drove it from Richmond to Lexington, VA on a late weekday afternoon to avoid I-64 and as much of I-81 as possible trying to get to Roanoke, and I enjoyed the peacefulness.  It may have a couple of short sections multiplexed with I-64 in Charleston and from Covington to Clifton Forge, but they’re relatively short and don’t detract much from the overall experience.
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hbelkins

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2022, 12:04:26 PM »

I’m a fan of US 60 from Winchester, KY to Richmond, VA.  Since much of it is forgotten between Winchester and the outskirts of Ashland, its pretty peaceful.  Mostly urban and suburban chaos from Ashland to Charleston, but a smattering of rust belt industry here and there, especially along the Kanawha River up to about Belle, WV.  Then pretty peaceful the rest of the way until the outskirts of Richmond.  I recently drove it from Richmond to Lexington, VA on a late weekday afternoon to avoid I-64 and as much of I-81 as possible trying to get to Roanoke, and I enjoyed the peacefulness.  It may have a couple of short sections multiplexed with I-64 in Charleston and from Covington to Clifton Forge, but they’re relatively short and don’t detract much from the overall experience.

I think US 60 is a pleasant drive between the Richmond area and US 29, but it's agonizingly slow at 55 mph without the availabilith of radar detectors. I last drove it between US 522 and US 29 a few years ago.

My biggest issue with US 60 as a through route is its northeastern glide from Winchester to Charleston, then the southeastern angle down to Lewisburg. A more east-west route to me would be to veer off US 60 at Gauley Bridge and take WV/VA 39 to Lexington to rejoin US 60.

I like the idea of US 64...with or without some "side routing" along US 74 (to minimize N-S deviation).  I think this meets the spirit of what HB was looking for.  It certainly has the geography, complete with gorge/ravine travel.


Interesting suggestion. Start on US 64 somewhere around I-65 and go east to Henderson, N.C., then drop down I-26 and US 74 to Charlotte or beyond.

I've driven a few pieces of US 64 west of I-24, and all of it from the US 72 intersection at Jasper to US 23 at Franklin. I've also been on US 74 from I-26 to the Charlotte area, although I know there's some new construction toward the eastern end.

An idea using different routes would be I-40, US 11E, US 321 and US 421 from about Nashville to Winston-Salem.
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US 89

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2022, 12:18:26 PM »

I like the idea of US 64...with or without some "side routing" along US 74 (to minimize N-S deviation).  I think this meets the spirit of what HB was looking for.  It certainly has the geography, complete with gorge/ravine travel.

US 74 has a lot of freeway or high grade expressway that’s part of Corridor K/A, so you might be missing out on some of the culture there. 64 has less of that. It certainly isn’t a straight shot by any means but I think on the large scale it’s a pretty good approximation of one.

Though I will say 74 through the Nantahala Gorge where it hasn’t been widened is one of the most scenic drives I’ve done in the east.
« Last Edit: July 08, 2022, 12:20:35 PM by US 89 »
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skluth

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #10 on: July 30, 2022, 05:59:02 PM »

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned I-68 yet. It's more useful as a shunpike (avoiding the PA Turnpike) for those going east on I-70 to DC but it's not far from US 50 and easier between I-79 and I-81 than US 50. I-270 sucks east of Frederick, but most highways into DC suck. It's quite pretty and not very busy, though driving through Cumberland can be annoying with its 40 mph speed limit.

US 35 is now four lanes between US 50 and I-64 if you want to try US 35/ I-64/ I-79/ US 48/ I-81/ I-66. I've been on all this except the US 35 part and enjoyed it. But the US 48 segment may be too meandering for your purposes.
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hbelkins

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Re: Straight through the Appalachians?
« Reply #11 on: July 30, 2022, 11:39:26 PM »

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned I-68 yet. It's more useful as a shunpike (avoiding the PA Turnpike) for those going east on I-70 to DC but it's not far from US 50 and easier between I-79 and I-81 than US 50. I-270 sucks east of Frederick, but most highways into DC suck. It's quite pretty and not very busy, though driving through Cumberland can be annoying with its 40 mph speed limit.

US 35 is now four lanes between US 50 and I-64 if you want to try US 35/ I-64/ I-79/ US 48/ I-81/ I-66. I've been on all this except the US 35 part and enjoyed it. But the US 48 segment may be too meandering for your purposes.

I-68 doesn't go from the foothills to the foothills/piedmont/coast. There's plenty of Appalachia left west of Morgantown and east of Hancock.

The longer route you mention dips too far south and then north to be a straight-through route.

If one started in the DC suburban area and went west, a route of VA 55/US 48/US 33 would work pretty well until you get to the point where 33 turns north along I-77.

What I'm wanting to do is put a ruler down on a map. draw a straight line, and then follow a road that doesn't veer too far away from that straight line.
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