Table of Contents
- Necessary Gears and Equipment for Bikepacking
- Top 5 Epic Bikepacking Adventures in the USA
- 5 Essential Tips for a Successful Bikepacking Adventure
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Bottom Line
Bikepacking is a growing trend in the world of cycling. When you get the freedom of backpacking with the thrill of mountain biking, it always creates a great and unforgettable experience. No wonder everyone loves it.
And our USA is home to some of the most beautiful places, making it the perfect destination for epic bikepacking adventures.
But hey, not all routes are meant for bikepacking. There are some challenging bikepacking routes that are not meant for everyone. On the other hand, some bikepacking routes aren’t even that exciting.
In this article, we will look at some of the most adventurous routes for bikepacking. I assure you, if you take out your bike to explore these beautiful routes, you’ll get some memories that will last a lifetime.
Necessary Gears and Equipment for Bikepacking
Before we get to the main part, let’s talk about something important first.
We all know that bikepacking includes traveling on unpaved roads and doing wild camping. Still, some of us ignore taking the important gears and equipment.
Remember, if you want to enjoy an epic bikepacking trip you want everything to go smoothly. So, whether you are a beginner or an expert, always try to keep these gears with you.
- Gravel bikes or mountain bikes or customized bikes
- Bike lock
- Shoes, Gloves and Bags
- Sleeping bags
- Sleeping pads
- Lamp or Headlamp
- Portable stoves
- Water Filter
- Water bottles
- Maps, route guides or descriptions
- Reliable GPS maps
- Spare tubes
- Tire levers
- Spare tire
- Duct Tape
- Chain tools
- Valve cores
- Wind and Warm Jackets
- Sports Bras
Other Necessary Gears
- Toilet Paper
- Voile Straps
- Bug Spray First Aid Kit
Top 5 Epic Bikepacking Adventures in the USA
There are plenty of bikepacking routes available in the US. But from our very own experience and research, these 5 epic bikepacking routes seemed to be a must-try. Check it out!
1. Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (GDMBR)
- Length: 2700 miles
- Time Required: 6 to 10 Weeks
- Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Time to Visit: Mid-August
This one is a no-brainer. On the top of our list, we have the famous Great Divide Mountain Bike Route.
It was established way back in 1997 by the Adventure Cycling Association. Since then, it has been known as one of the best-known bikepacking routes of all time.
As a matter of fact, it is called the birthplace of bikepacking.
It spans over 2,700 miles from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, on the Mexican border.
If you get to this epic route, it will follow the Continental Divide of North America, which separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean.
Trust me, you will absolutely love the breathtaking views it will offer.
The route includes dirt roads, different challenging trails, gravel roads and some unmaintained tracks as well. This will keep you up with full-on excitement.
Also, you will get to see different places like Boreas Pass in Colorado, Grand Teton National Park, Great Divide Basin etc. So, get ready to enjoy some beautiful scenery.
The GDMBR seems to be a very big route huh? Don’t worry they are divided into multiple maps.
You can even go there for bikepacking even if you are an intermediate level rider. No need to become an expert.
One more thing! I would suggest you take 6 to 10 weeks of time to complete this route. Also, we usually go there in mid-August as the weather is warm and fine. However, you can go from anytime between June to September.
So, if you haven’t visited it yet, try to do it ASAP. Hopefully you will have an amazing adventure.
2. Colorado Trail
- Length: 567 miles
- Time Required: 8 to 18 days
- Difficulty Level: Very Hard
- Time to Visit: July to September
Next up, I have one of my most beloved bikepacking routes. I personally prefer this route if you want to try something new.
The Colorado Trail is a spectacular bikepacking route that stretches over 500 miles. Yes, you heard that right. 567 to be exact! It is known as one of the longest routes for bikepacking.
It’s just not long, if you visit in the summer, you will enjoy amazing views all the time starting from Denver to Durango, Colorado.
You will get to see a lot of rocky mountains, crystal clear lakes, creeks etc. Also, there are some must visit type places such as Animas River, Durango town (Where the route ends), Kenosha Pass etc.
To break it up more. There are five major river systems and eight mountain ranges throughout the trail.
What about the time and expertise?
Well, here comes the concerning part. The Colorado trail is a bit challenging. It is long, the routes are technical, consists of steep climbs and many rocky singletrack trails.
So if you are totally new to bikepacking, I wouldn’t recommend this route. Couple of our members are intermediate riders, but still they find it difficult sometimes.
That’s why, go there if you have at least some experiences and consider yourself an advanced rider. Otherwise, you can always choose specific segments according to your skill and time.
It will usually take around 8-18 days if you have an average speed to complete it. July to September seems to be an ideal time to go there. Also, since its challenging, always keep the time and safety gears in mind.
In short, the Colorado trail is challenging, but you will surely be able to enjoy an epic journey if you can go there.
The spectacular scenery, thrilling challenges, wilderness, and cultural history will be more than enough to give you a memorable experience.
3. The Kokopelli Trail
- Length: 142 miles
- Time Required: 3-5 days
- Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Time to Visit: Fall and Spring
On the third of our list, we got the Kokopelli trail. Trust me, it is one of the most classic bikepacking routes you will ever find in all across America.
It is a multi-trail that has a distance of 142 miles. This bikepacking trail goes from Loma, Colorado to Moab, Utah.
Try to use the mountain bikes. Although the trail consists of single-track roads and four-wheel drive roads as well.
You will be glad to know that it connects the centers of Fruita and Moab. We get to ride through a stunning desert landscape, enjoy rocky climbs, pass through canyons & different mountains.
You can also get a taste of the Colorado river.
So anyone can expect a classic desert experience here.
Are you interested in camping areas? Well then, this classic trail will be a perfect match for you. The Kokopelli trail has around 8 camping areas. And each of them has 2-3 camping sites. They are small, but include different kinds of amenities.
It isn’t that difficult, and it should take around 3-5 days to complete it properly.
The Kokopelli Trail is a popular destination for bike packers as it offers an incredible backcountry camping experience. You also get the opportunity to enjoy stunning views of desert, mountains and get an overall great sense of adventure.
4. Black Canyon Trail (BCT)
- Length: 80 miles
- Time Required: 2-3 days
- Difficulty Level: Intermediate
- Time to Visit: Early Spring or Late Autumn
Yes, we couldn’t complete the list without including one from Arizona. In fact, this one is personally my favorite for a short bikepacking adventure.
The Black Canyon Trail is approximately 80 miles long. It is located in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. This Arizona trail is so good that the International Mountain Biking Association granted it the ‘Epic’ Designation.
You can get there easily too. If you are traveling from Sky Harbor International Airport, it’s just a mere one hour drive north from Phoenix. Also use the Bob Bentley trailhead and Table Mesa Road if you can.
Now that you have an idea about the location and distance, let’s talk about the place itself.
This place isn’t just known for bikepacking, but you can also perform hiking and horseback riding. You will get well marked signs and kiosks that will be very helpful throughout your journey.
Wondering about the type of tracks? Well, most of them are singletrack, but you will find some doubletracks and dirt roads as well.
It can be unique and adventurous for riders of all skill levels. From intermediate to expert level, this route can offer you a delightful experience.
Try to go there in early spring or late autumn. At this time you can expect to encounter the beautiful saguaro forests, mesquite trees, and a variety of desert wildlife.
One of the highlights of the trail is the Black Canyon city itself. You can always roam around a bit and take a rest if you want to.
As this is a small route, it would take you only 2-3 days to complete it. So, it can be a great option for riders who are looking for a shorter and less challenging bikepacking adventure.
5. The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail
- Length: 430 miles
- Time Required: 10 days
- Difficulty Level: Hard
- Time to Visit: Early Spring
You can enjoy another classic bikepacking adventure in the Virginia mountain bike trail. Two of our members live in the eastern side of the U.S. and they go there often.
The trail is around 430 miles and includes an elevation of more than 16000 meters. It also connects the Allegheny & Blue Ridge mountains. It includes some enjoyable public lands which are loved by everyone.
When you visit there, you will come across different farming communities and remote wilderness. We also take a taste of the George Washington National Forest and the Jefferson National Forest.
You will certainly enjoy the beauty of the Virginia mountains. But apart from all the beauty and other offerings, we found this trail challenging too.
When you pass through the remote areas, you might find limited access to different services. Again, It’s just not the wilderness, but the tracks can be difficult as well.
As a matter of fact, most of us love the singletrack. But the singletrack seemed quite challenging to us. So, you should expect some suffering here as well. That’s not the end, it has a mix of gravel roads and that can be quite hard too.
So, keep the challenges in mind and keep around 10 days in hand to complete the trip.
5 Essential Tips for a Successful Bikepacking Adventure
Bikepacking can require some planning and preparation to ensure an overall successful and enjoyable trip. So here are some tips that you can always follow for a successful adventure.
1. Try to Pack light
When bikepacking, you’re carrying all the gears on your bike. So try to pack as light as possible.
2. Prepare Mentally
A lot of people ignore this. But have a mental preparation that you will surely enjoy and finish this adventure.
3. Know your limits
At the same time of preparing mentally, you should know that bikepacking can be physically demanding. It can get hard. So make sure you know your limits and try not to push yourself too hard.
4. Getting the Right Gear
Previously we talked about the necessary gears and equipment. So check them out again and make sure to take the important things.
5. Be prepared for the weather
Weather can be unpredictable when bikepacking. So take the necessary clothes and always be mentally prepared if things go south.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the average speed for bikepacking?
Answer: The average speed bikepacking is around 6 to 7 miles per hour.
Q. How many kilometers a day for bikepacking?
Answer: It depends a lot on the terrain, altitude, weather conditions, and your very own experience and fitness level.
However, on average it should be around 25-75 miles. If you are a beginner, don’t try too hard, try to improve it slowly.
Q. What is the average weight for bikepacking?
Answer: Around 20 kg.
Q. Do I need a GPS for bikepacking?
Answer: I would always recommend you to keep GPS navigation with you.
In bikepacking you travel around and explore new places. GPS can certainly help you to keep on track. It can increase safety as well. Also, you get to make the best use of time.
Although some bikepackers rely on paper maps, trail markers, and their own navigational. But, a GPS can provide more accurate and detailed information. You will always find it helpful in areas with complex trail systems or difficult terrain. So, try to keep one with you.
Hope these 5 epic bikepacking adventures will offer you an unique way to explore the great outdoors and challenge yourself both physically and mentally. The challenges of these routes will surely be exciting and memorable.
Always try to take the gears with you and keep the important tips in mind. Til then, Safe riding!