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The Great Loop is a circumnavigation of the eastern U.S., and part of Canada. The route includes the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, the New York State Canals, the Canadian Canals, the Great Lakes, the inland rivers, and the Gulf of Mexico. "Loopers" take on this adventure of a lifetime aboard their own boat.
The Great Loop is a minimum of 5,250, but depending on which route choice and which side trips you do, it can be extended to include thousands more miles. Most Loopers report their Great Loop trip to be in the 6,000 mile range.
The Great Loop has been done in as little as two months and in as much as 12 years. Traditionally, Loopers have spent about a year on the route. After all, it is a seasonal trip. You’ll want to be on the northern part of the Loop during the warm summer months, the inland rivers in the fall, spend the winter in Florida, and the spring following the warm weather up the eastern portion of the route.
The U.S. and Canada are usually part of the Great Loop, although one route option keeps you within the U.S. borders. Some Loopers do a side trip to the Bahamas as well.
Depending on route choices, you will go through at least 15 U.S. states and Canadian provinces, which may include:
Although the Great Loop has been done in both directions, it’s usually done counter-clockwise so that you are going with the current, not against it, on the inland rivers.
We plan to leave Wabasha, MN on about Sept. 6, traveling down the Mississippi, Ohio and Tennessee-Tombigbee rivers, reaching Mobile, Alabama about November 1. We are opting to take a side-trip to Nashville via the Cumberland and Joe Wheeler State Park via the Tennessee. From Mobile, Alabama we start the ICW around the Gold Coast before crossing the gulf at Carrabelle to Tarpon Springs. We’ll spend a month in Fort Myers before working our way down to Marathon, Keys for another month. In spring we will follow the warm weather north to New York City, arriving in June. Taking the Hudson River through NYC brings us to the Champlain Canal where we’ll take the alternate route north through Lake Champlain to Montreal and Ottawa. The Trent-Severn waterway through Ontario, Canada brings us to Georgian Bay where we’ll take the North Channel and cut through Lake Huron to the Straits of Mackinac and Lake Michigan. We’ll cross Lake Michigan and sail south to Chicago, then down the Illinois River until we connect again with the Mississippi River. We’ll turn our boat north and go back up the Mississippi to our home Port of Wabasha, MN, arriving in the Fall of 2019.
Tom & Sue Slightam
Read along as we circumnavigate the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada on the Great Loop on our boat BELLA, a Cruiser 460 Express.