Eastern Divide Trail
Photo courtesy: Bikepacking.com

Canada to Key West: ‘Eastern Divide Trail’ Will Be America’s Longest Dirt Bikepacking Route

The first segments of the Eastern Divide Trail — the 5,000+ mile, predominantly off-pavement bikepacking route — will publish this summer.

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) lures serious bikepackers from around the globe, not just because of the sheer physical challenge it poses, but also because of the breathtaking vistas and seemingly endless stretch of rumbling bikeable paths it provides.

And those qualities — the scenery and natural infrastructure — will serve as the backbone of the soon-to-be-completed Eastern Divide Trail (EDT). Today, Bikepacking.com, the engine behind the planning, coordination, and development of the monumental effort, announced that the very first segments of the 5,500-mile trail will publish this summer for riders to read — and pedal themselves.

“What this region lacks in oxygen-deprived, high-altitude passes, it makes up for with boundless folded mountain vistas, bristling clear streams, lush forested vegetation, ever-changing ecosystems, and layers of history,” organizers said in a press release. “Indeed, traversing these landscapes can provide an experience that rivals the one many bikepackers seek out on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.”

In all, the EDT will comprise eight segments that link a meandering network of gravel, dirt roads, bike paths, quiet backroads, and singletrack, stretching from Newfoundland, Canada, to Key West, Florida.

And while the first guides for some of the segments will publish this year, route planners still need volunteers and donations to bring the EDT fully to life.

Eastern Divide Trail: Longest US Bikepacking Route on Dirt

 

Eastern Divide Trail bikepacking route
Photo credit: Logan Watts

The concept for the EDT first arose in 2015 with a rough sketch to be for bikepackers what the Appalachian Trail is for hikers. What took shape is now poised to become the “longest contiguous off-road-centric bikepacking route in the USA,” according to its creators.

The termini will sit at the easternmost point in North America, Cape Spear, Newfoundland; and the southernmost point in the contiguous U.S, Key West. Its eight constituent segments will span between 500 and 1,000 miles each.

Eastern Divide Trail

  • Lupine: Cape Spear to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland (550 mi.)
  • Tamarack: Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Maine (750 mi.)
  • Boreal: Maine to Poultney, VT (500 mi.)
  • Spoonwood: Poultney to State College, PA (575 mi.)
  • Hellbender: State College to Damascus, VA (625 mi.)
  • Blue Ghost: Damascus to Mulberry Gap, GA (550 mi.)
  • Trillium: Mulberry Gap to Tallahassee, FL (900 mi.)
  • Cypress: Tallahassee to Key West (1,000 mi.)

Each of the segments can be ridden sequentially or independently. And all segments start and stop at a “significant town or city” with lodging, transport, and other amenities.

Timeline to Completion

Trail organizers say the planning stage for the EDT is about 85% complete. But to really bring it to life, it still requires further documentation, photography, and videography. This will help bring each of the route’s trail guides to completion.

The current timeline to roll out full trail guides begins this summer but will stretch into 2022/23, pending how many donations and how much volunteer help Bikepacking organizers receive.

EDT stickers bandana

  • Spring/Summer 2021: Engage local Route Scouts and finalize Route Stewards
  • Summer/Fall 2021: Publish guides for segments 4-6
  • Winter/Spring 2021/22: Publish guides for segments 7 and 8
  • Spring 2022: Finalize segments 1-3
  • Summer 2022: Publish guides for segments 1-3
  • Fall 2022-Summer 2023: Modifications, advocacy, and route refinement
  • July 2023: Possible group grand depart

Still, the project requires more groundswell support to complete the effort on schedule. To sweeten the deal, organizers have a limited run of EDT bandanas and stickers for anyone who donates.

“The Eastern Divide Trail team is looking for financial support from cyclists and the industry, as well as scouting efforts and local knowledge from the bikepacking community up and down the Eastern Seaboard,” organizers said.

“Additionally, the team is looking for potential Route Scouts to help provide feedback, waypoints, photography, and valuable insight on several segments of the Eastern Divide Trail.”

To help pitch in and learn more, visit the official EDT page here.


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Adam Ruggiero
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Adam Ruggiero is an all-sport activity junkie - from biking, running, and (not enough) surfing, to ball sports, camping, and cattle farming. If it's outside, it's worth doing. Adam graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism. Likes: unique beer, dogs, stories. Like nots: neckties, escalators, manicured lawns.