The latest trend for adventure seekers is bikepacking. Like backpacking, bikepackers carry everything they need with them for their journey including camping equipment, food and water. There are a variety of bikepacking trails all over the world that cater to everyone from beginners to veterans. There are single track mountain bike trails, smooth highway trails and everything in between. Bikepackers enjoy seeing the world's beauty as they enjoy their favorite hobby. As long as you pack bike friendly gear, plan your route and train for the intensity of all day biking, you can have a great adventure.
Great Divide Mountain Biking Route
Experienced bikepackers from around the world come to ride the Great Divide Mountain Biking Route. The route was mapped by Adventure Cycling Association in 1997 is thought to have sparked the bikepacking craze. The route runs more than 2,100 miles from Banff National Park in Canada to Antelope Wells in New Mexico at the United States border with Mexico. Bikepackers will travel the longest off pavement route in the world with 90% of the trail featuring dirt and gravel roads and unmaintained trails. Bikers should be experienced because the route features 200,000 feet of elevation gain and loss. Much of the route is not near towns or cities. However, along the way, bikepackers will enjoy historic mountain towns, river valleys, desert and wilderness. Sites include Alberta's Flathead Valley, Grand Teton National Park, Colorado's Indian Pass and Boreas Pass, Wyoming's Great Divide Basin, and the Polvadua Mesa and Gula Wilderness in New Mexico.
The North Sea Cycle Route
Also called the EuroVelo 12, The North Sea Cycle Route is the longest bikepaking route in the world. It opened in 2001 and features more than 3,700 miles running along the coast of the North Sea. Bikers of any experience level can enjoy the North Sea Cycle Route in segments. The paths are paved. Experienced bikers wishing to tackle the route in one trip will know it will takes weeks to do so. The route provides beautiful scenery of the North Sea's coast. It begins in the portside town of Harwhich, England. From there, the route goes to Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium to its border with France. Some outstanding views include Scotland's Shetland Islands and the Norwegian coast.
The Arizona National Scenic Trail
Whether you're a beginner or experienced bikepacker, The Arizona National Scenic Trail is a diverse route that can be enjoyed by any bikepacker. The route was mapped in 2011 and runs 800 miles from north to south of the entire state of Arizona. More experienced bikepackers may wish to ride the entire trail which includes a short section through the Grand Canyon where the bikes need to be pushed. There's a 50 mile stretch of trail perfect for bikers of any experience level. The stretch runs from Flagstaff to Sedona and features breathtaking scenery. Along the entire 800 mile trail, bikers will enjoy grasslands, Saguara National Park, Sky Island Mountain Range, Mongollon Rim, Kybewr Platough and the Grand Canyon.
The Old Ghost Road
New Zealand's Old Ghost Road is an exciting adventure for bikepackers. The route runs 52 miles through New Zealand's South Island and takes about 3 days to complete. Experienced bikers will enjoy the twisty unpaved single track trail. The route is based on a map from gold miners in the 1800's. Along the way riders will see four ghost towns and many water falls as the trail climbs 8,900 feet to an alpine range.
The Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail travels 539 miles from Littleton to Durango. The route has 55% single track trails and takes between 10 to 15 days to complete. Experienced riders will be prepared for the 70,000 feet of elevation gain and loss throughout the route and an altitude of 13,270 feet at its highest elevation. The route takes bikepakers through the Rocky Mountains. Travelers will see 8 mountain ranges, 5 major river systems, 6 national forests, glacial lakes and creeks. Due to federal regulations, The Colorado Trail detours around 6 wilderness regions.
The Dolomiti Trail
The Dolomiti Trail in Italy has been a haven for hikers and climbers for decades, but bikepackers are now enjoying the trail through the mountain range. The trail is 160 miles and takes about 5 or 6 days for a biker to complete. More than 55% of the trail is unpaved, and there are some stretches of single track trail. The entire route runs along the Dolomiti Mountain range and valleys with their jagged peaks rising above more gentle slopes. The trail runs where the front line of the Italian and Hungarian forces once did during the First World War. Some of the trail includes old military trails and relics can still be found from The Great War.
The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail was created in 2011 by cyclists and members of Shenandoah Mountain Touring to connect eight major trail systems in between the Alleghany and Blue Ridge Mountains. The result is 480 miles of scenic backcountry trails. This includes 75% unpaved trails and 40% single track trails. The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail begins in northern Virginia in Strasburg and ends in Damascus in southern Virginia. Although this trail does take some experience there are cabins set up throughout the trail so you won't have to worry about packing a tent. The route is especially beautiful in the falls with the leaves changing colors.
The Adriatic Crest Trail
The Adriatic Crest Trail stretches 380 miles along Croatia's dramatic coastline. Along the way bikepackers will enjoy Croatia's backcountry including dense forests, steel mountain ridges, rolling hills and, of course, the Adriatic Sea. The route is set up for intermediate and seasoned bike riders. It is a total of a 35,000 foot climb. It includes 70% unpaved trails and 5% single track trails with some double track trails as well. You'll need to pack plenty of water for your ride which could take a total of 8 days.
The Kokopelli Trail begins in Loma, Colorado, passes through Fruita and ends in Moab, Utah. The trail is nearly 140 miles long and takes about 3 to 5 days for a biker to travel. The route was created by the Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association in 1989 and provides challenges for bikers including single track, double track, sand and tarmac trails. It has challenging technical climbs, rugged descents and graded terrain. The trail offers great southwestern scenery, but the dry and dusty trail doesn't offer many options for water. There are, however, eight campsites along the trail where bikepackers can rest and stock up on some much needed water for their journey.
Pan American Highway
The Pan American Highway can be hiked or cycled. Bikepackers often travel segments of the trail that extends 19,000 miles from Prudhoe Bay in Northern Alaska to Ushuaia in southern Argentina. The trail is not difficult to bike but it includes some of the most amazing scenery including deserts, forests, mountains and jungles and includes 14 countries. Recently, cyclist Dean Scott completed the route in 99 days setting a world record.
Written by Benjamin Smith
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