Eastern Divide Trail

The roughly 5,900-mile Eastern Divide Trail (EDT) is the longest contiguous off-road-centric bikepacking route in the world. It runs from Cape Spear, Newfoundland, the easternmost point in North America, to Key West, Florida, the end of the road going south. The EDT follows as much of the St. Lawrence and Eastern Continental Divides as possible without compromising a focus on quality off-pavement riding and connecting the most incredible sights, landmarks, and landscapes in the eastern mountains. The route winds its way through dozens of national and state forests, numerous ecozones, and countless places of Indigenous, geographical, and historical significance.

  • Distance

    5,900 Mi.

    (9495 KM)

  • Days

    100

  • % Unpaved

    68%

  • % Singletrack

    3%

  • Difficulty (1-10)

    7

  • % Rideable (time)

    98%

  • Total Ascent

    310,000′

    (94,500 M)

  • High Point

    5,691′

    (1,735 M)

EDT Segments

The Eastern Divide Trail is made up of eight carefully designed segments that can be ridden sequentially or independently. Each segment starts and ends in a significant town or city where lodging, transport, and other amenities are accessible. This provides bikepackers with the option to set out on a single ambitious adventure or take in the route over a lifetime by riding it in segments. Additionally, we are working on several network alternates that will provide opportunities for loops. You can discover more by clicking on the badges below or using the map above.

FAQs

You can find extensive details about the route, highlights, and logistical information within each segment guide. However, here are a few FAQs about the EDT in its entirety, the project, and ongoing plans.

What is the Eastern Divide Trail?

Inspired by the Appalachian Trail, the mission of the Eastern Divide Trail is to connect the two great Eastern Continental Divides and create a long-distance bikepacking route linking many of the well-preserved and beautiful mountains, vistas, forests, and rivers on the East Coast. The route is composed of eight segments connected via a network of gravel byways, dirt roads, rail trails, and singletrack using established and newly designed routes. Here are the five governing principles behind the EDT:

  • Quality off-road riding: The EDT was designed with an orchestrated mix of dirt roads, gravel, non-technical to intermediate singletrack, rail trails, and quiet backroads;
  • Wild and scenic places: Our vision for the EDT was to link the best of the Appalachian Mountains and other ranges, rivers, and forests that define the Eastern Continental Divide landscapes. These include scenic vistas, waterfalls, and other places of natural significance and beauty throughout the route;
  • Public lands with access to camping: The EDT stays close to or within national forests, state parks, and other preserved wildlands where possible to provide camping options and an excellent off-pavement, backcountry experience;
  • Trail towns: Similar to the Appalachian Trail, the EDT is designed to link a series of charming and colorful small towns that may ultimately benefit from trail users and provide infrastructure for lodging, transportation, food, and entertainment;
  • Places of historical significance: Last but not least, the EDT connects many places of Indigenous, natural, and historical significance, and we aim to document and integrate these stories into the route guides.

What types of roads and trails are on the EDT?

The goal of the EDT was to provide a similar riding experience, level of difficulty, and surface variation as the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. However, the East Coast is unique from a bikepacking perspective. We’ve been riding and creating routes in the Appalachians and the surrounding foothills for the last decade, and in our experience, routes on the East Coast have their own style. The best of them use a well-orchestrated variety of surfaces and terrain, which keeps it interesting. Embracing that is a defining principle of the EDT.

Think about it this way: Constant gravel can be boring, too much difficult singletrack can be draining, an overload of rail trails is monotonous, and never-ending pavement is frustrating. The EDT was designed to have a well-executed rhythm. Tracks include smooth and chunky gravel roads, dirt doubletrack, mellow-to-intermediate singletrack, sand roads (as you get into Florida), and the occasional challenging snippet or hike-a-bike that’s necessary to connect the route-defining quality of scenery and landscapes. After all, the best kind of hiking is with your bike. Also, understand that when off-road tracks aren’t possible—or simply aren’t logical—the route utilizes bike-specific paved paths, greenways, and quiet back roads.

What kind of bike should I bring?

The Eastern Divide Trail is a long route that takes in a variety of surfaces that change regionally. Frankly, deciding on the best type of bike to tackle all of it is tricky. The EDT is not intended to be a mountain bike or gravel bike route. Rather, it’s something in between. Think of it as an ATB (All Terrain Bicycle) route. Like any good East Coast bikepacking route, at times you’ll wish you had less bike, and at other times you’ll want more. In the end, it’s best suited for a rigid 29er or a drop-bar adventure rig. Bikes like the Salsa Cutthroat, the Tumbleweed Stargazer, and Surly Bridge Club come to mind.

How long will it take?

To answer that question, it’s best to consult each route guide. However, factoring in an average of 50 miles per day equates to about 78 days of riding, which is a fair assumption for an intermediate bikepacker. That said, everyone is different, and anyone tackling this route will likely want to take some rest days. We expect average riders to take about 100 days. And we’re betting that high-level, ultra-endurance racers might strive for a sub-30-day FKT, although that seems quite challenging.

When should I go?

Deciding when to ride the full route is also complex, given its length and difference in latitudes. Much of the decision for a through-ride will likely factor in your own pace. Considering a 100-day itinerary, starting in September would likely be ideal, allowing riders to “follow the fall” all the way south. However, that also gets into hurricane season, which has become increasingly unpredictable over the last decade. Riders might also consider a south-to-north ride starting in March, although that might put you in the north when it’s still quite cold and snowy.

What’s next for the EDT (and what’s the schedule)?

The Eastern Divide Trail is a massive project that hasn’t been without delays—including those dished out by the pandemic. However, we’re working hard to get it buttoned up to the quality you’d expect, and there’s light at the end of the tunnel. As noted under each of the segment icons, we hope to have phase one of the project complete by September 2022, launching all eight segments of the route at various times starting at the end of May.

After publishing each of the route guides, phase two will involve getting further feedback, refining these segments, and building out a long-term plan for improvements and goals. Additionally, we plan on reworking singletrack alternates to renovate the Southern Highlands Traverse, a more challenging mountain bike version through the Southern Appalachians.

Phase three will involve advocacy work for access, new trail development, and building out additional loops and connections for the EDT. We’re also planning a grand depart and other events. Stay tuned!

Bikepacking Collective

The Eastern Divide Trail is supported by our Bikepacking Collective Routes Fund, a member-funded initiative to develop high-quality, signature bikepacking routes. If you enjoy our in-depth route guides and other free content, please consider joining. We’re a small, independent platform dedicated to keeping our content and resources free for everyone, but we need your support to do so. By becoming a member, you’ll also receive The Bikepacking Journal twice a year and many other great benefits. Learn more here.

Route Development

Originally conceived by Brett Davidson, the Eastern Divide Trail has been slowly percolating for more than six years with more people chipping in than we can list here. Over the last three years, efforts to plan, scout, and finalize the project have ramped up. Led by Logan Watts, a team of riders who are deeply enmeshed in the East Coast bikepacking scene have worked to finalize all eight segments. The Eastern Divide Trail board consists of five Route Directors (below) with the direct oversight of each segment to be managed by two or three Route Stewards. There are loads of folks who have been involved, and many to thank.

Eastern Divide Trail Team