Three years ago, we spoke with Daniel Jessee on the Singletracks podcast about establishing the massive Eastern Divide Trail route. The project is still years away from completion, but they have some notable updates to share on the 5,000 mile project. Since the podcast, the Eastern Divide team has been planning and scouting for the project.
The route starts at the tippy-top of the northeastern point of the continent and traces mountains and trails with a finish in Key West, Florida. It will be broken up into eight segments that can be ridden one at a time, or linked together for the full pull.
The Eastern Divide Trail (EDT) was conceived by Brett Davidson in 2015 to link two Eastern Continental Divides and make a bikepacking-specific route that would parallel the Appalachian Trail. On completion, the EDT will be the longest off-road route cycling in the United States. The route will follow as much of the St. Lawrence and Eastern Continental Divides as possible and wind through state forests, different ecosystems and places of cultural, indigenous, and historical significance.
“Our goal is to make the Eastern Divide Trail route feature as much off-pavement, mixed-terrain riding as possible,” Bikepacking.com says in a release. “Using the best of several established routes and a wealth of new ones, this mix will include gravel, dirt roads, and mellow singletrack with the aim of providing a similar riding experience, level of difficulty, and surface variation as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.”
Each of the eight mentioned segments will start and stop near a significant town or city with lodging and amenities available. These segments will be published on Bikepacking.com as individual guides with maps and data.
The next stages
The EDT team is expecting to publish route segment guides this coming fall, with additional guides in 2022, and the full project should be completed sometime between 2022-2023.
- 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
How to help
Bikepacking.com says that the EDT has mostly been a passion project amongst the team and to help close in on the finish line, they are looking for financial support from riders, as well as help with scouting and locals who might be familiar with segments of the route.
“After putting in thousands of hours planning, scouting, and designing, as well as committing a portion of funds into the project, there is still plenty of work to be done.”
For those who can donate, Bikepacking.com is offering a limited run of EDT bandanas and stickers. Additionally, the team is looking for Route Scouts to help provide feedback, waypoints and photography on segments of the EDT. Anyone who is interested in pitching in can check out their page here.