Author Topic: Great Divide Route Conditions  (Read 3840 times)

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Offline afmeyer

Great Divide Route Conditions
« on: August 19, 2012, 06:37:40 pm »
I'm planning a trip down the GD route.  I'm interested in knowing the conditions on the dirt portions of the route. I'm assuming the paved portions are okay.  Are the dirt roads similar to some of the single track paths you see being used by motorized dirt bikes or are they actually dirt roads that may be steep but are easily rideable.  I'm not interested in jumping boulders, etc.  Please tell me what you encountered and can you go around very rough terrain?

Offline MidSouth

Re: Great Divide Route Conditions
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2012, 08:21:57 pm »
Watch the movie 'Ride the Divide' for a good overview of the various trail/road conditions along the route.  It is available on iTunes and sometimes you can catch it on the Documentary Channel.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Great Divide Route Conditions
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2012, 10:29:14 pm »
I plan on doing the southern half north bound next May & June.  I will depart San Diego in early to mid May as a "get in shape" tour before starting the GD in Silver City, NM.  I am like you in that I don't want technical stuff or too much punishment for going off pavement, just great scenery.

Go to and look at the journals for the Great Divide.  Most have lots of pictures to show you.  The vast majority of the GD is on gravel or graded dirt roads forest service or county roads.  However, some is single track.  Occasionally you will have to push a bike due to steepness or roughness but I would guess that is less than 5%.  About 10-15% is on pavement.

Note that if you go early in the summer, you may encounter snow drifts, rough roads that need to be graded from winter damage, higher water in  creek crossings and/or fallen trees causing you to have to unload your bike to get over/around it.  If you go later in the year, a lot more washboard, drier conditions (harder to find water), hotter, etc. but most of the above early problems will have been resolved.  Pick your poison.  I prefer wildflowers and a little cooler temps over dryness and heat.  Plus the bears aren't as hungry supposedly  ;D early in the summer if you stay away from their cubs.

Hope you enjoy the Divide!

Offline JayH

Re: Great Divide Route Conditions
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2012, 07:49:34 am »
Ride the Divide is also on Netflix (streaming). I recently saw the second movie "Reveal the Path" by the same folks but it's not about the CDT and more about europe/alaska MTB touring..


Offline pmac

Re: Great Divide Route Conditions
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2012, 11:21:01 am »
I rode the Banff to Whitefish section this summer.  The road quality varied widely from paved to excellent gravel roads to lousy gravel roads to dirt double track to limited single track to small sections that had to walked, sometimes due to steepness, sometimes due to the road quality.  All in all I thought the road quality was pretty good for a mountain bike trip and the scenery was incredible.  Front suspension and a 29er worked for me.  My advice is don't worry too much about the conditions.  Wherever you're at on the route the road condition will change soon enough to something else.  The wild card, as always, is the weather.