Longest Routes for Smaller Areas

On November 3, 2013 · 13 Comments

Knowing how much the Twelve Mile Circle audience loves little puzzles, I thought I might try to fold a couple of related ideas that have fascinated lately into a single entry. I looked back to one of the more popular 12MC concepts, the Longest Google Maps Routes from about eighteen months ago. It continues to be a popular page with various social media and aggregator sites "rediscovering" it from time-to-time, giving it new life. It’s quieted down a bit since the comments period closed after a year, a duration I’ve had to specify reluctantly for all articles to try to tame a never-ending torrent of comment spam.

The second related page focused on my journey to Kentucky last summer, specifically the tremendous amount of time and distance I covered before I ever left the Commonwealth of Virginia. The drive was a bit exaggerated because I took a small detour to capture the independent city of Norton which counted as a county-equivalent for county counting purposes, although the journey was impressive even discounting the jog. I knew about all of that ahead of time of course, however understanding something and experiencing it in person were two different concepts entirely as far as I was concerned.

With all that in mind, I’d begun to wonder about the longest Google Maps default drives in layers of geography that mattered to me, specifically my home county, state and nation. I made the rules simple. It had to be the primary default point-to-point route suggested by Google and it could not cross the borders of the home jurisdiction. I couldn’t add intermediate points manually and I had to remain within the lines. Bridges were fine. Ferries were not. I couldn’t use the Alaska Marine Highway System to link Alaska to the Lower 48, as an example. Those were completely arbitrary rules designed to create some focus and structure.

County – Arlington



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One shouldn’t expect remarkably long distances in the smallest self-governing county in the United States (25.98 sq miles or 67.3 square kilometres) and that was the obvious result. I managed to eke out an 11.5 mile (18.5 km) route entirely within Arlington. Google offered 12.4 miles (20 km) as a second option which I discarded because it wasn’t the initial suggestion. Flipping the route didn’t help either; it produced a longer result although it also detoured the path into neighboring Alexandria and thus violated one of my arbitrary rules. The odd thing I’ve learned from Google Maps over the years is that some other person submitting the same endpoints might get the second option as the first one, or that the recommended route could change over time. I can say only that the solution I found this morning worked, and it could be completely different for you either today or if you came back in six months.

These county estimates were difficult to determine because county lines in Google Maps disappear at a critical point as one drills-down. One has to have a pretty good mastery of the boundaries before starting and then go through a bit of trial and error.


State – Virginia



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It turned out that my lengthy drive completely within Virginia’s borders was impressive, although nowhere near as long as theoretically possible. For that, one would need to start from the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (my visit) on the Atlantic Ocean, on Virginia’s eastern shore, to some random point west of Big Stone Gap near the Kentucky border, or vice versa. The distance going either direction came to 576 miles (927 km).


Nation – United States



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I felt considerably less confident in my result for the United States. I found a decent distance and I think 12MC readers should be able to improve upon it, perhaps considerably. The route from Key West, Florida to a very westerly point on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula near Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge stretched to 3,661 miles (5,892 km), a smidgen longer than the reverse of those same directions. One should be able to finish that journey by automobile with 55 hours of continuous driving. I wouldn’t recommend it.

This exercise could be expanded to other geographic territories, perhaps ones meaningful to individual 12MC readers. I played around with Canada a bit. The biggest challenge was Google’s bias towards U.S. highways to route Canadians around various Great Lakes. I also took things to a somewhat ridiculous extreme by examining Luxembourg, where I uncovered a 119 km (74 mi) route. I even went Down Under to New South Wales, Australia where my best find stretched to 1,797 km (1,117 mi).

Have fun!

On November 3, 2013 · 13 Comments

13 Responses to “Longest Routes for Smaller Areas”

  1. Henry says:

    Fun game! Longest I could find in Rhode Island: 67.5 miles, from Lighthouse Rd, Westerly to Beach Dr, Little Compton (http://goo.gl/svj6fs).

  2. City (well, village) – Nakusp: 8.7 km (5.1 mi) from Highway 23 to 300 block of Alexander Road

    County (well, regional district) – Central Kootenay: 409 km (254 mi) from Inonoaklin Mountain to Ryan Provincial Park

    State (well, province) – British Columbia: 2,416 km (1,502 mi) from Wady Road near Port Alice to easternmost BC/Yukon border crossing of the Alaska Highway (with ferry); 2,207 km (1,372 mi) from Waneta, BC border crossing to BC/Yukon border crossing, HIghway 37 (without ferry)

    Country – Canada: 9,418 km (5,853 mi) from Navy Road, Inuvik, NWT to Mistaken Point Park Reserve, NL (using maps.google.ca); 7,486 km (4,653 mi) from Navy Road, Inuvik, NWT to Caniapiscau Aerodrome, QC

  3. Brian says:

    I got a few extra miles for a US country route. From the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center in Washington (47.86063, -123.9348) to the Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park at the tip of Key West (24.5491, -81.8097) shows 3,664 miles.

  4. Brian says:

    California – 1,043 miles — http://goo.gl/maps/Lb3uJ

  5. Calgully says:

    OK, I can’t resist an Australian Challenge!

    I was able to find a route of 1861Km within New South Wales. http://goo.gl/maps/8rXOk

    But that’s nothing. How about Queensland? – 2605Km http://goo.gl/maps/3KkgN

    Or the granddaddy of second-level political entities – Western Australia 4074Km http://goo.gl/maps/Y5qwK

  6. January First-of-May says:

    City and “state” is the same entity in my case: the Federal City of Moscow. Google Maps hadn’t quite caught up with the July 2012 border changes, and the village of Kuzovlevo is in a particularly funny position as it’s assigned to Kaluga Oblast even though it’s actually within Moscow; that said, using Google routing but borders based on essentially every other map, the longest route appears to be 124 km: http://goo.gl/maps/4rCR9 (for the record, the actual border in this particular segment aeems to be defined by the river [Chernichka? Desenka? sources differ] just south of Kuzovlevo).
    When we’re talking about “county”, in my particular case, the relevant second-level subdivision is the Eastern Administrative Okrug (of Moscow); it’s the largest of the nine pre-2012 first-level districts of Moscow – or at least pretty darn close – but it’s dwarfed by the newly added parts. Nevertheless, thanks to random dangling panhandles, the longest route is a fairly decent 33.9 km: http://goo.gl/maps/hWUiL (I included a shaded map of the relevant district, so that the way the path fits is more visible).
    As for the entire country (Russia)… unfortunately, there’s a ferry (near Khandyga) on the only road connecting extreme eastern Siberia to the main road network (and for that matter, there’s not as many locations available in extreme eastern Siberia, so I’m not sure it it even would’ve helped). The longest route I could find that doesn’t involve any ferries goes, roughly, from the North Korean border in Khasan to the Finnish border just south of the tripoint with Norway, and takes an incredible 10,778 km (slightly less in reverse): http://goo.gl/maps/gl5NS 🙂

  7. Philip Newton says:

    For Germany, I propose http://goo.gl/maps/PzYyp — 1202 km, 11:45.

    For Hamburg, http://goo.gl/maps/wBbhL — 58.3 km, 1:21. (The obvious routes from the NE to the SW unfortunately cut through a tiny corner of Schleswig-Holstein, either at the motorway junction A1/A24 or at the northern end of the airport.)

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