The Trans America Trail is a Motorcycle route across the USA
Official do it yourself Ride Packet updated for 2017
About The Trans America Trail: The Trans America Trail (TAT) is a transcontinental, coast to coast route across the United States. It is designed for dual sport and adventure bike motorcycles, but it also works well for 4x4 vehicles, such as Jeeps and SUV's. It consists mostly of dirt roads, logging roads, fire roads, farm roads, unimproved roads, and back paved roads. The route attempts to avoid pavement, but it travels into towns for gasoline stops and in the eastern and western states near the oceans, the route is mostly back paved roads. The trail has evolved over the years and it now includes many options depending on conditions and the motorcycle or vehicle you are traveling in. But for sure, this is one of the great routes across America, and if at all possible, you should take all or part of the adventure.
Self Guided American Adventure: The Trans America Trail is designed to be a self guided adventure with the use of a custom GPS card. As GPS units have become both more powerful and easier to use, it has enabled anyone to be able to easily find their way along the trail. For many, this allows them to just experience the American trail without the burden of getting lost.
Do it yourself ride packet: Riders can purchase a custom GPS micro SD Card and matching custom paper maps all designed for their Garmin or BMW GPS unit
TAT Section Cards (74) TAT microSD Card TAT Big Picture Maps(18)(11"x17")
Yes it is as easy as just buying the SD Card and putting it into your Garman of BMW GPS Unit
TAT Self Guided Ride Packets: The SD Cards and maps cover the complete trail with all the new route options
The map set contains both the Section Cards and the Big Picture Maps
Notes: I suggest you plan and order early. Normally I ship within a week. But sometimes I run out and it can take me several weeks to get new cards and maps. And sometimes I am out riding and building new adventures so that can be hard too. I list the Option for 2 SD cards because many riders like to carry a backup card or a cheap backup gps in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
TransAmerica Trail Welcome Video (2 minutes)
You can view the trail up close by clicking on the map and zooming in
View Trans America Trail in a larger map
Navigation of the Trans America Trail: For sure the best way to follow the trail is by the use of a Garmin GPS unit. There are many types of Garmin units, almost all of them can work well. If you don't already have a Garmin GPS you can often get a new Garmin for under $150. Cell Phone GPS is starting to be used, but has trouble in the remote areas and doesn't take the abuse of the trail well. See our Garmin GPS recommendations.
Video, see how to navigate the Trans America Trail (made easy)
New "Official" TAT GPS microSD cards are now available
These cards fit directly into your Garmin GPS and contain the entire trail with all options and 2016 updates.
New TAT rider maps have been developed for riders to use in conjunction with their gps units. "Big Picture Maps" are 11x17 maps designed to illustrate the overall trail and "TAT Section Cards" are 5x7 quick reference maps designed to be used along with your gps as you ride. These maps fit directly into your motorcycle tank bag or map pouch and highlight the rider choices as each ride section unfolds.
Unlike a gps alone, these give the rider a great perspective of how the ride will go.
About Route Choices: The Trail has a main route that is colored in Blue. In addition there are 129 optional Green Route choices designed for riders wanting easier more scenic routes or on larger adventure bikes and 51 Red Challenging Route options including several singletrack sections for Tough Guys wanting a real challenge. But If you want to do the Original Traditional TAT route you will need to stay on the Blue Route.
Structure of the trail information: The original TAT is broken into 49 sections (from Cape Hatteras NC to Port Orford OR) At the end of each section is a gasoline station. The 2014 New York Route added 11 new sections and the Los Angeles Route added 14 sections. The sections vary in length from 66 miles to 161 miles. You will need a gas range of 161 miles. Several sections can be ridden in a day, depending on your desires.
Understanding the Route: Attitudes about studying the route vary greatly among travelers. Some prefer no study, just turn on the GPS and go and enjoy whatever the day has to offer. Others love to study the route in fine detail before starting. Most people are somewhere in between. Now riders can study and review the trail in great detail by clicking on the ride section links. This is an amazing resource to study and embrace what happens on the trail. Here you will find everything from trail conditions to trail routes to rider feedback as well as attractions, stops and weather conditions.
TAT Ride Maps: One can argue that with a gps you don't even need paper ride maps, and yes, that can be true. But there are several reasons that people like paper ride maps. First, with a gps, it is hard to see the day's ride as a whole. Tiny screens and trying to zoom out do not work well. People like looking at a map to see what the day's ride will be like and to aid in planning their options. Then, during the ride, it is great to be able to have a discussion about what choices the day might have. Paper maps and section cards are great for this. Many riders put the section cards in a pocket in their tank bag and watch the map as the day unfolds. I highly recommend both map sets below.
TAT Section Cards: These are quick reference 5x7 maps of each ride section. They are meant to be carried directly on your motorcycle in your tank bag maps pouch or simply in a ziplock bag on your handlebars. These maps show the route choices and the highlights and the mileage of each section. These are custom designed for motorcycle riders and are meant to be used in conjunction with your gps to aid your gps navigation and choices.
74 TAT Section Cards cover the entire trail (Sample TAT Section Cards)
Big Picture Maps: These are large 11x17 maps that cover several ride sections on each map. Their scale is similar to what you would expect from a "state level" map. There are 18 maps to cover the entire trail. These are best used the night before the ride for planning the next day's activities or destinations. These maps show the towns nearby and the highway routes that the trail passes. Great for finding resources near the trail or planning side trips. (Sample Big Picture Map)
Bill from England on trail navigation after his ride last year
Evolution of the Trans America Trail: What is next for the Trail? Continued user feedback. Please send me route improvement suggestions and rider experiences. We still need camp spot waypoints! I update the gps files each year based on rider experiences and feedback. Looking for more difficult route options too!
About Sharing the TAT: I believe in an open source ride world so I give away all the info to share the ride in the hopes that others will do the same with other great rides. Let's all get together and contribute to making a rich riding world.
Help by providing feedback and ride information: On each of the ride sections there is a User Comments Form that is designed so that riders can easily view comments from others who have recently ridden the section and riders can add their own comments just after riding the section. Please help us improve the trail ride experience by adding your ride comments after you ride each section. Have some fun with your comments along the way. It is kind of fun to see who may be chasing you along the trail. (Link to the ride sections)
History of the Trans America Trail: The Trans-Am Trail was first organized by Sam some time in the early 1990's. Sam conceived and organized the partial route from Tennessee to Oregon and built roll charts and maps to enable Dual Sport motorcycle riders to navigate the route. Wow! Thanks Sam. Unfortunately, he was never able to complete the route to the east coast. However, other riders stepped in and by 2006, the desired coast to coast route was completed by starting at the Atlantic Ocean and continuing to Oregon. Finally the dream of the coast to coast Transamerica goal was achieved. Since that time, many others have contributed and expanded the route to include rich options. Now the Trans America route includes choices for likely issues that people encounter along the way such as alternate routes around mud holes, snow in the Rockies, frustrated farmers, high water river crossings and improved gas stops. In 2014, new trail sections were added to allow riders to select a route between New York and Los Angeles. These routes turned out to be equally spectacular.
Currently riders are working on Northern routes that would be better options for the heat of summer and more Southern routes for riders wanting to make the journey in the winter months. We are hoping to see this by 2017.
Let's all hope for a bright future for Trans America routes.
Q: How long does it take to complete the trail?
A: Some riders do it as fast as 2 weeks but at a comfortable pace of 7 riding hours per day, it takes about 26 days
Q: How long is the route?
A: New York to Los Angeles is 5139 miles (8270km) and Cape Hatteras NC to Port Orford OR is 5174 miles (8326km)
Q:Can I ride the trail from West to East?
A: Yes you can, however there will be a few spots where you will have to take the easier options due to one way roads. It is as simple as riding the arrows (chevrons) backwards.
Q: What must my gas range be?
A: There is one day that is 161 miles between gas stops, however, I would recommend a 120 mile range on a tank and to carry a little bit in a bottle for the longer days.
A: What bike would you recommend?
Q: I would say any bike that you are comfortable on. The nicer ones would be a WR250R or a DRZ400 if you were trying to do all the hard, single track options. The route can still be done on a big 1200cc adventure bike however, you probably would want to take the green routes. So there is a wide range of bikes that can go on the trip, but the bike you take, will determine the options you can choose.
Q:What tires do you recommend?
A:You could do the route on any good dual-sport tire however you might want more aggressive knobbies for the hard options in the West but that all depends on your vision of how you want to approach the ride.
Q: What is the recommended ride length per day?
A: I have separated it based on gas stops and would suggest 2-3 gas stops a day, however, you can veer off the trail or go at a slower pace if you want and cover 1 gas stop a day.
Q: Where should I get bike maintenance done?
A: There a a few good options and several places that are a little way off the trail that you could go to if you have an issue. Richfield, UT at Jorgensen's Honda, Beebe, AR at Sunrise Yamaha, Las Vegas, NV at Yamaha of Las Vegas all have good size motorcycle shops where you could get help. You could also go to Tulsa, OK or Colorado Springs, CO but they are a little way off the trail.
Q: What is the best GPS for the ride?
A: Almost any will work, but if you want to buy a new one see my GPS Recommendations:
Instant GPS Download:
Want to download the Complete set of Tracklogs and Waypoints. Maybe you want to edit them and download them to your gps yourself? Below you can get an instant download in either Universal (GPX) format or Garmin Basecamp and Mapsource (GDB) format. These are high resolution tracklogs for all section of the trail and its options. 229 Tracklogs and 269 Key Waypoints
Note: After you complete your payment, Select "Return to Merchant" Button to be directed to the download link.
TAT Complete GDB ($38.00)
TAT Complete GPX ($38.00)
Link to Last Years TAT webpage