Bikepacking or bicycle touring is a self-supported means of travel in which participants spend days, weeks, or even years traversing regions, countries, and continents via human power. The best thing about bicycling is that it can take you to some amazing places. Whether you’re traveling to a new city or region, there’s no better way to do this than on two wheels. You can cover more miles than walking and, unlike driving, you’re still connected to your environment.
Here are four long-distance bike trails to test your legs, spend a little time in the saddle, and witness amazing landscapes.
Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)
This off-pavement route stretches from Banff, Alberta in Canada to the U.S.-Mexico border in Antelope Wells, New Mexico. The approximately 2,700-mile path crisscrosses the Continental Divide and is currently the world’s longest off-pavement route. Each year in June, the Tour Divide navigates the trail from north to south in a self-supported race. There are no prizes, only bragging rights. For those daring, this year’s event kicks off on Friday, June 14, 2019. For those not wanting to toe-the-line in this epic race, the remote trail is open to anyone and includes single-track and forest service roads along with a few stretches of paved roads and paths.
Best experienced from December to March, the Florida Connector runs from St. Augustine to Fort Lauderdale. The more than 500-mile coast-to-coast-to-coast route includes a combination of sidewalks, bike paths, and bike lanes along shared roads. If you choose to ride the entire trail, it will take you from St. Augustine (on the eastern coast), the oldest city in the United States, southwest across the state to Ft. Myers Beach (on the western coast) before turning east and finishing in Fort Lauderdale (back to the eastern coast).
Underground Railroad Bicycle Route (UGRR)
The UGRR pays homage to the enslaved freedom seekers looking to escape the oppression of pre-Civil War America. The route begins in Mobile, Alabama and runs more than 2,000 miles north to Owen Sound, Ontario. Rivers and waterways were important navigational aids for those escaping north and the trail follows these from Alabama to Ohio before continuing north to Ontario. This route passes numerous historical landmarks and is a veritable tour of this period in our nation’s history. In addition to the south-to-north route, there is an optional 150-mile spur running from Pittsburgh to Erie, Pennsylvania.
Great American Rail-Trail
Traversing 12 states and stretching more than 3,700 miles, the Great American Rail-Trail, once completed, will connect Washington, D.C. to Washington State. This multi-use trail will link 125 existing trails across its route, but there are about 90 trail gaps that still need to be developed. While the trail may be years from completion, the foundation has been laid and the project is already over 50% completed with large existing sections providing stand-alone rides. The trail will also be readily accessible to almost 20% of the U.S. population that live within 50 miles of the route.
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