Canada to Key West: Eastern Divide Trail will be America’s longest dirt bikepacking route

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The first sections of the Eastern Divide Trail – the 5,000-mile-long, mostly off-road bikepacking route – will be released this summer.

The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) attracts serious bikepackers from all over the world, not just because of the sheer physical challenge. but also because of the breathtaking views and the seemingly endless stretch of rumbling bike paths that it offers.

And these properties – the landscape and the natural infrastructure – will form the backbone of the imminent completion Eastern Divide Trail (SUMMERTIME). Today, Bikepacking.com, the engine behind the planning, coordination and development of the monumental effort, announced that the first sections of the 5,500-mile trail will be released this summer for riders to read and pedal by themselves.

“What this region lacks in high-altitude, low-oxygen passes is made up for by boundless folded mountain views, clear streams, lush forested vegetation, ever-changing ecosystems and historical layers,” the organizers said in a press release. “Indeed, traversing these landscapes can offer an experience comparable to what many bike packers seek on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.”

In total, the EDT will comprise eight segments connecting a meandering network of gravel, dirt roads, bike paths, quiet back roads and single trails that stretch from Newfoundland, Canada to Key West, Florida.

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

Eastern Divide Trail: Longest US bikepacking route on dirt

Photo credit: Logan Watts

The concept for the EDT was created in 2015 with a rough sketch for bike packers what the Appalachian Trail is for hikers. What took shape, according to its makers, is now ready to become the “longest contiguous off-road-centric bikepacking route in the USA”.

The termini will sit on North America’s most easterly point, Cape Spear, Newfoundland. and the southernmost point in the adjacent US, Key West. The eight individual segments each extend over 500 to 1,000 miles.

Eastern Divide Trail

  • lupine: Cape Spear to Port Aux Basque, Newfoundland (550 miles)
  • Tamarack: Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Maine (750 miles)
  • Boreal: Maine to Poultney, VT (500 miles)
  • Spoon wood: Poultney to State College, PA (575 miles)
  • Hellbender: State College to Damascus, VA (625 miles)
  • Blue ghost: Damascus to Mulberry Gap, GA (550 miles)
  • Trillium: Mulberry Gap to Tallahassee, FL (900 miles)
  • cypress: Tallahassee to Key West (1,000 miles)

Each of the segments can be driven one after the other or independently. And all segments start and end in a “major city” with accommodation, transportation and other amenities.

Timeline to completion

The trail organizers say the planning phase for the EDT is 85% complete. But to really bring it to life, more documentaries, photographs, and videographs are required. This will help bring each of the walking guides on the route to a close.

The current schedule for the introduction of full hiking guides starts this summer but will extend through 2022/23 depending on how much donations and how much volunteer help the bikepacking organizers receive.

EDT sticker bandana

  • Spring / Summer 2021: Hire local route scouts and complete 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
  • Autumn 2022 – Summer 2023: changes, approval and refinement of the route
  • July 2023: Possible group departure

Still, the project requires more support from the fundamental wave to complete the effort on time. To sweeten the deal, the organizers have a limited number of EDT bandanas and stickers for anyone who donates.

“The Eastern Divide Trail team is looking for financial support from cyclists and industry as well as scouting efforts and local knowledge of the bikepacking community along the east coast,” the organizers say.

“In addition, the team is looking for potential route scouts for feedback, waypoints, photography, and valuable insights into different sections of the Eastern Divide Trail.”

Visit the official EDT page to learn more Here.

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