Also known as the CDT, the Continental Divide Bike Trail is a 2,700-mile route that runs from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, along the Continental Divide of North America.
Why it's so famous?
The trail was established in the late 1990s by the Adventure Cycling Association, and it is now one of the most important off-road trails in the world, considered by many to be the birthplace of bike packing. The CDT traverses some of the most remote and rugged terrains in the United States along the Rocky Mountains, offering a challenging and rewarding experience for all its riders.
How Difficult is the CDT?
The route can be considered medium difficulty level, but it is an enormous test of endurance due to its large scale. The trails themselves are not exceedingly technical and 90% of them go through dirt roads, gravel roads and trails with over 200,000 feet of elevation gains and loss.
The route is best known for the Tour Divide Race where riders take on the CDT self-supported, enduring harsh weather conditions, and even wildlife encounters. Most riders choose to tackle the race with a hardtail bike with front suspension and a drop bar. Their bike packing equipment includes; tools, sleep kits, food, and other supplies minimizing weight wherever possible.
In 2022, Sofiane Sehili won the race; it was his third attempt at the tour division, and took him 14 days to complete.
The Natural appeal of the CDT
The CDT is renowned for its scenic beauty. Riders will encounter a great variety of landscapes including alpine meadows, forests, and deserts. Along the way, riders will also have the opportunity to spot a wide range of wildlife, including bears, elk, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions.
Tips to tackle the CDT trail
The Continental Divide Bike Trail is a quite challenging long route that requires lots of planning ahead with the right resources and equipment, knowing where to resupply, and considering weather conditions well ahead.
The best time to ride the trail is during the summer months when weather conditions are more predictable. Riders can start at either end of the trail, but most riders begin in Banff and ride south to Antelope Wells. Along the way, riders will need to carry all of their own gear and supplies, as there are few services available along the route.
Final thoughts on the continental divide trail
In conclusion, the Continental Divide Bike Trail is one of the most challenging and rewarding mountain bike routes in the world. With its rugged terrain, unpredictable weather, and stunning scenery. The CDT offers an unforgettable experience for all riders. To successfully tackle the trail, riders should be well-prepared, physically and mentally, and ready for the adventure of a lifetime. With careful planning and a willingness to adapt to changing conditions, riders can experience the beauty and excitement of the CDT.