For decades, the Adventure Cycling Association’s (ACA) Great Divide Mountain Bike Route (1998) was THE cross-country route for riders looking for a long-distance epic across spectacular backcountry scenery. Then, in 2017, the Western Wildlands Route, plotted by Bikepacking Roots, was announced to the riding public; two incredible bikepacking trips, essentially parallel to each other, running north/south through the Great American West.
Now, the ACA and Bikepacking Roots are making available route maps for connecting trails that link the two routes, making for brand new epic loops. Sweet.
From a press release announcing the routes:
“These east-west links will allow riders to create logistically simpler and more seasonally appropriate loops that can be ridden as adventures in of themselves. Most of the riding is on non-technical dirt roads and 4-by-4 tracks, and the routes were mapped with knobby tires and mountain bikes in mind rather than skinny-tired gravel bikes. Water sources and resupply stops are regularly available, and are detailed in the route waypoints, guidebook, and mobile app.
The connectors cross exceptionally diverse desert, mountain, and plateau landscapes. They highlight public lands from the forests of Idaho and Montana, to the peaks of the Teton and Wasatch ranges, the red rock canyons of Utah, and the high desert of Arizona.
• The 156-mile Teton Connector links Idaho to Wyoming through the Snake River Plain, a mix of agricultural lands and shallow canyons, passing several hot springs, and climbing over the rugged Big Hole Mountains.
• The 947-mile TransRockies Connector from Salt Lake City to Denver is a stunning and diverse two- to three-week challenge with Colorado Plateau badlands and slickrock landscapes, desert mountains, redrock canyons, and the inspiring peaks of the Rockies.
• The 282-mile Chihuahuan Connector from Arizona to New Mexico crosses high desert landscapes and memorable scenery, including Arizona cypress forests and the hoodoo rock formations of Chiricahua National Monument.”
Visit the ACA and Bikepacking Roots websites for more beta on the route connectors and the big boy routes they join together.
Top photo: Kurt Refsnider