|:: The Great Loop Route ::
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|1. Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway: Starting from the St Lucie Inlet on the east coast of
Florida, your Great Loop distance on the Atlantic ICW is 987 miles to Norfolk, VA. From
Norfolk, it is another 279 miles to the Hudson River for a total of 1,266 miles. From Florida's
east coast at St. Lucie heading north, the ICW will take you through the Dismal Swamp, and
lead you on up to the Chesapeake Bay, the C& D Canal, and the Delaware River. From
there, it is across New York Harbor to the Hudson River. Your Great Loop voyage up the
historic Hudson River to the entrance of the Erie Canal is 134 miles. You will want to plan
your voyage so that you are at the entrance of the Erie Canal around mid-May.
2. The Hudson River: This leg of your voyage is 134 beautiful miles, and for some
reason, the Hudson River never gets enough praise & glory. However, the Hudson Valley is
home to many of the most most wonderful lighthouses, mansions and scenery in America.
There is lots of fun interesting things to do here. So don't stop your on shore excursions at
NYC. The entire Hudson has some amazing on shore attractions.
3. The Erie Canal: Your Great Loop distance on the Erie Canal is 338 miles. It stretches
from Waterford, NY to the Upper Niagara River between Buffalo and Niagara Falls. If you
take a left on the Niagara River, this will be your connection into Lake Erie. If you turn right
on the Niagara River, well let's just say you will have one hell of an exciting side-trip over
Niagara Falls, and all your friends will probably see you on the ten o'clock news.
4. The Great Lakes: Your distance across the Great Lakes from Buffalo, NY to Chicago is
892 statute miles. This voyage (If you go direct) will normally take between 4 and 5 days.
However, beginning at Buffalo, there is simply a boaters world of stuff to see and do on
your way to Chicago. You have plenty of time, as you really don't want to reach Chicago
and be off the Great Lakes until mid-September.
5. Illinois River: Your Great Loop distance on this river is 334 miles. This baby is the
connection between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, and the location of that 19'
1" bridge you must go under. The Illinois river's close proximity to the Chicago River and
the man-made Chicago Ship Canal is why we have a Great Loop and not a "Great U-turn".
This leg of your journey takes you to the Mississippi River at Grafton, IL.
6. The Upper Mississippi River: This leg of your journey is only 219 miles to Cairo at the
junction of the Ohio River and the Lower Mississippi. From Cairo, you may want to take the
Ohio River to the Cumberland, on your way to the Tennessee-Tombigbee route to Mobile
Bay. Or if you wish, (and you have the fuel range) you may want to continue south on the
Lower Mississippi route to New Orleans.
Alternate Route: The Lower Mississippi River: The Mississippi River is among the TOP
TEN river cruises in the world, but it's not for everyone. Least not for everyone cruising in
their own pleasure boat. This leg of your journey (if you choose to do it) is 871 miles from
Cairo to the Harvey Lock and Gulf ICW which is just south of New Orleans. Problem is,
there are only two safe, convenient, stops for fuel and provisions.
7. Ohio River: If you take the Tenn-Tom route, your Great Loop distance on this river is
only 46 miles, but it's all against the current of the mighty Ohio River. From Cairo, IL this
baby takes you to the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers at Paducah, KY., and into what
is referred to as the "Land between the Lakes", and the very "Heartland of America".
8. Cumberland River: Your Great Loop distance on the Cumberland River & Lake
Barkley to the Tennessee River is an optional 33 miles. This is also your gateway for a
side-trip to Nashville.
9. Tennessee River: Your Great Loop distance on this river is 215 miles. It is 207 miles
from the Ohio River to Pickwick Landing Lock and Dam - 8 miles further is the entrance of
the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway.
10. Tennessee-Tombigbee: Your distance on the Tennessee-Tombigbee to Mobile Bay
234 miles. The Tennessee - Tombigbee Waterway (by the way) was a bigger man made
canal project than the Panama Canal. WOW!
11. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway: Your Great Loop route across this waterway is 218
miles from Mobile, AL to Carrabelle, FL.
12. Crossing the Gulf of Mexico: Your journey across the Gulf of Mexico offers some
wonderful options. You can go directly across, or you can hop-scotch your way around.
(We cover these details later.)
13. Lake Okeechobee Waterway:
Your Great Loop route across this waterway is 154 miles. Here, a series of 5 locks helps
you through this inland waterway across the lower peninsula of Florida. The canal depth of
the waterway is approx. 8 feet, and the width of the canal varies from 80 to 100 feet. Many
cruisers access the waterway from the ICW through Ft Myers, shortening their trip to the
east coast of Florida and bypassing the Florida Keys.
America's Great Loop combined with our Nation's Inland River System plays a vital
role in linking the Gulf and Atlantic ocean to places you would never imagine possible to
reach by boat - especially, your own.
The Great Loop offers you the opportunity to explore over 29,400 miles on the Inland
Rivers of America's Heartland. Cruise it all, and In the end, you will have boated just over
the 'official qualifying' distance of sailors circumnavigating the globe. WOW!
Just 'how long is the Great Loop voyage? Well, if you include Canada your voyage will
normally be just over 6,100 miles. That beats cruising the World's Longest River - the Nile
- by more than 2,000 miles. The Nile's official length is 4,100 miles. Even the Great Loop's
short route is 1,500 miles longer than the Nile River.
How far can you go?
"While 'the short route' around America's Great Loop staying on 'the American
side only' is about 5,600 miles, the long route through Canada averages near
6,100 miles. But. . . How far in America can your really go in your own boat? The
answer is about 29,400 statute miles.
Your route around America's Great Loop
Once you have the boat, all the equipment you need, and all your provisions and clothing
are on board. You will be feeling really anxious and excited to get under way. You have
closed that gap between where you are, and where you want to be. Now, the dream is about
to become reality.
So, lets review your route.
We are going to start on the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Of course it doesn't matter
where you actually start, because after all, it is a "great loop". So you can start anywhere on
the Loop you so choose. The main thing to remember is that in-order to enjoy all the best
weather and temperature conditions, if at all possible, you want to boat by the seasons. So
|Cruising the Atlantic ICW - click NEXT
"Bring Your Own Boat"
and take the voyage of a lifetime
America's Great Loop
Why the Loop is more than just a Loop!
1. Spring Up - "Spring Up" the Atlantic
ICW in Spring.
2. Shuffle Off - "Shuffle Off" to Buffalo
(and on to Chicago) in Summer.
3. Fall Down - "Fall Down" the inland
rivers in Fall.
4. Winter Across - "Winter Across" the
|So here are the legs of your Great Loop journey:
Cruising Canada - Most Recommended!
If you plan to cruise Canada (and you should), you will either take the Hudson River to
the St. Lawrence Seaway or take the Erie Canal to Oswego and cross Lake Ontario. Either
way is a wonderful safe & scenic voyage.
There are plenty of wonderful surprises that await your arrival in Canada. For sure you
will want to take a detour to Montreal & Quebec City. Then just 60 miles up the St.
Lawrence from Quebec at the junction of the Saguenay River you will have reached the
5th most popular destination in the World for watching the Big
Blue Whales. Montreal & Quebec City themselves are a real
sight to see, but the Blue Whale experience is one you will
remember the rest of your life. Additionally, cruising Canada's
Trent Severn Canal is just the beginning of some World Class
cruising. Adding Canada to your Great Loop voyage is
Blue Whales - the largest creatures on earth
are located on Canada's Saguenay River. This
is the 5th most famous & popular destination
for Whale watching!
Cruising Canada is World Class Cruising