If someone told you that they had just ridden over 5,000 miles across a country on a route that was mostly remote dirt tracks and roads, you would likely think that their adventure had taken them through the remote deserts of Australia, or maybe one of the desert countries in Africa. In reality, you can find this kind of rugged, remote and challenging adventure right here in the US. It’s the Trans-America Trail, otherwise known as TAT.
So, what about the trail?
The TAT is a genuine success thanks to the original work done by Sam Correro and his fellow group of riders after nearly 12 years of riding in order to assemble the key to the route. All of the trails and roads were already in existence, but they took on the hard job of piecing them all together. This is NOT a tight, single-track through woods ride. It is a route using dirt roads, gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads and farm roads. And you’ll find everything from dried-up creek beds, abandoned railroad grades, and sections of mud, sand, snow and rocks… A dual sport bike is a requirement!
While Correro is credited with piecing the TAT together into a continuous route, another group of passionate riders, led by Sam Scout, have stepped up to help maintain it and provide updates on any bypasses and closures.
Challenging but epic.
The TAT starts in eastern Tennessee, dips into Mississippi, then shifts towards the north through Arkansas City and into Oklahoma. After Oklahoma, it becomes more challenging with major elevation changes as you get closer to the Continental Divide. The most beautiful area along this stretch is the Colorado segment which has epic mountain passes such as Ophir, Hancock, and Tin Cup.
When you get to Utah, the TAT is just as challenging, and spectacular. The rough stretch through Moab all the way to the San Rafael Swell is remote and scenic. The Black Dragon section probably best captures the essence of what the TAT is all about. It offers beautiful scenery, ancient petroglyphs, big rocks, washouts, and deep sand. For true adventure riders, this stretch will make you forget how tired you are at the end of the day.
Then there’s Nevada – rugged, remote, and intense weather with severe thunderstorms a definite possibility. Fuel availability can also prove to be a major challenge, so remember to carry some extra fuel cans with you.
The trail enters California from Nevada, but only for a stretch of about 30 miles. It then turns into Oregon, which is perhaps the least technical riding of all of the states in the western part of the TAT. Navigation is probably the most intense here, though, since fallen trees can block the road, or some areas closed may be closed for logging. Be sure to have maps with you to find bypasses. Your know you’re near the end of the trail when you begin to smell the salt air of the Pacific Ocean. This stretch rewards you with an amazing ride along a rideline with occasional glimpses of the ocean.
What to Consider
The varied terrain of the TAT places several distinct demands on the type of motorcycle you choose. It starts out fairly easy, but becomes more difficult the further west you go. You need to ride with a group, and consider using a lighter dual sport like the Yamaha WR250 so it’s easier to maneuver the more challenging segments. You’ll also want good skid plates, a GPS, bags and cases for your gear and maps, and some extra cans filled with fuel. And don’t forget to carry quality and durable gear — you will be hitting weather and you will be on the road for a couple of weeks.
The Trans-America Trail is epic, magnificent, and adventurous — every ingredient of an exceptional, adventurous ride. And for those in the U.S., this adventure comes without jet lag and a passport.
About The Author