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7,600 km across the continent — European Divide Trail

European Divide Trail

7,600 km across the continent — European Divide Trail

Mountain Biking Collection by European Divide Trail

37

Tours

557:16 h

4,775 mi

281,050 ft

From Grense Jakobselv in Norway to Cabo St Vincent in Portugal, this is the longest predominantly off-road bikepacking route in the world, put together by Andy Cox, aka Doubletrackfanatic.

The route passes through the seemingly endless forests, alongside lakes, rivers and on the dirt roads of Scandinavia, through the patchwork of farmland, woodland, heathlands and grasslands of Central Europe, then into the south and eventually the Iberian Peninsula where the diversity of landscapes will surprise you, and the trails are often loose and rocky.

The inspiration for this route came from a need for a dirt road touring route exploring an alternative side of Europe, mostly away from the popular tourist destinations. While more challenging bikepacking routes can be great fun, following them for months on end is perhaps less sustainable. Here, easier tracks and trails have been linked together into a route that's greater than the sum of its parts. The challenges will come from the logistics of finding water, food and accommodation, the weather throughout the multiple seasons it'll doubtless take to ride it, and the act of riding a heavy bike, off-road, more than 7,500 km (4,660 mi) across Europe.

While this route is called the European Divide Trail (EDT), it's unlike the Great Divide Mountain Bike route in North America, as this route doesn't follow the Continental Divide, rather it crosses many different divides on its journey through Europe. These divides are economic and social, geographic and geologic, historical and cultural, with numerous languages and customs, laws and regulations, but all within the European Union. Some of these divisions are obvious as you'll cross ten international borders, but often less obvious on the ground, as the reality of crossing international borders on a bike is that the landscape rarely changes, and even the language can be somewhat the same cross-border as well.

This is an epic crossing of the European continent, from (almost) the most northeast to the furthest southwest tip of the continent, predominantly off-road or traffic free. So with that in mind, although there are plenty of paved sections, there's often no easy alternative, or there's issues with private land or access to off-road alternatives. That's not to say that there aren't alternatives, so if you're feeling adventurous then by all means go exploring!

Bike recommendations are more down to comfort and tyre size than anything specific; so most off-road capable bikes would be fine, with a minimum of 40mm wide tyres, and 50mm or larger being a safer and more comfortable option. You could ride most of it on a touring bike with panniers, but it's best tackled on something more focused towards gravel and mountain biking with bikepacking style luggage so you can enjoy the trails more. There's no need to carry more than 3-4 litres of water at any point, and while the longest stretch without grocery stores is 255 km (158 mi), which is in Finland, there's also several sections in Sweden that are around 200 km (124 mi) without any services, and also some surprisingly empty areas of Spain and Portugal.

You could start riding from the north from late May or early June, or from the south in late March or early April. Bear in mind that the highest points are both in Eastern Spain, at around 2,000 m (6,562 ft), and could still have snow or sub-zero temperatures even into May, and there's often still snow close to sea level in the far north throughout the year. Expect to take between two to six months to ride the whole thing.

Kirkenes airport is the closest to the northern start point (60 km or 37 mi away), and Faro airport in Portugal to the southern point (100 km or 62 mi away). Although 99% of this entire route has been recced at least once, access rights and local laws can change, so if you encounter any issues or private signs etc, then please let us know through the EDT website or in the comments below. Please be courteous to local people you meet on the trails and obey local laws and regulations. If you're local to a part of this route and you know of an alternative or better route then again please let us know in the comments. If you come across sections that don't seem to make sense, there's usually a good reason behind the route choices.

But most of all, enjoy the journey!

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Arctic Ocean to Väylä — European Divide Trail

    Difficult
    13:08
    130 mi
    9.9 mph
    5,150 ft
    4,750 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    This first section takes you from the Russian/Norwegian border and the edge of the Arctic Ocean into the interior of Lapland.

    

    Characterised by bare rock, scrubby trees, bogs and lakes, and the magnificent Fjords it's a surprisingly diverse area. Also even though you are way up into the Arctic Circle

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:05
    116 mi
    9.6 mph
    3,500 ft
    3,250 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    This is the longest stretch without services on the whole European Divide Trail, and while there a couple of small hamlets where you might find a meal or accommodation, there's not much in-between except trees, reindeer, mosquitoes and more trees.

    

    This is a national highway in Finland, but there's not

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:30
    122 mi
    9.7 mph
    3,450 ft
    3,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Once reaching Kittilä, the coldest place in Finland (-51.5°C), the gravel begins, and so do the hills.

    

    Enjoy the amazing dirt roads climbing over ridge after ridge with views across to higher ground to the south and west, towards the Swedish and Norwegian borders.

    

    There's a few wilderness cabins you can

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:45
    127 mi
    9.9 mph
    3,700 ft
    3,400 ft
    Ferry
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels. The Tour includes a crossing by ferry.

    Stage 4 is another long section with no services but with a free ferry crossing, and this one involves quite a

    lot of dirt road riding, so expect a slower pace and not much passing traffic.

    

    With bigger climbs and valleys, huge rivers run off the border mountains towards the Baltic sea, which are often

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:47
    119 mi
    9.3 mph
    4,950 ft
    5,175 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    You'll ride along some wild roads and trails on Stage 5. Big rivers, hydroelectric power plants and their accompanying reservoirs, and some beautiful country.

    

    Then it's into the first proper town in Sweden, Jokkmokk. It's a relatively bustling town just inside the Arctic circle with plenty of services

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    15:13
    154 mi
    10.1 mph
    4,675 ft
    4,725 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    There's more wild country and off-road riding between towns optimises this area of Sweden, climbing over ridges, descending down to rivers, then repeat.

    

    Services are relatively frequent now, so no need to carry more than a couple of days of food with you.

    

    Look out for signs by the side of the roads marked

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    15:54
    135 mi
    8.5 mph
    7,775 ft
    7,475 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    An extended period of dirt roads heading towards the mountains of Jämtland now. This is a particularly empty area of Sweden with a minimal population and some of the harshest weather and wildest landscapes.

    

    In places the trails become vague, but they always link back onto hard packed tracks eventually

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:17
    125 mi
    10.1 mph
    5,250 ft
    5,600 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    There's more of the same type of terrain, with seemingly endless dirt and gravel roads, forest, hills, lakes and rivers on Stage 8.

    

    It gets a little monotonous after a while but a change is coming soon, as the next sections are some of the prettiest and most interesting, so just keep going!

    

    Once again

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    15:37
    132 mi
    8.5 mph
    6,125 ft
    6,125 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Ride through more forests and past lakes and rivers, and finally find a few large settlements with more than one grocery store to choose from. There's also numerous accommodation options and other services you might require.

    

    With some excellent trails and reasonable views, why not keep things interesting

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    16:04
    134 mi
    8.3 mph
    5,625 ft
    5,100 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The end of the most tedious stretch of the whole route is near at hand, as you're almost into the Swedish ski areas next to the Norwegian border.

    

    Sveg is the largest town with all the services you need and even a bike shop, of sorts. It's not on the route but you can easily make the detour there and back

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    13:45
    126 mi
    9.2 mph
    5,425 ft
    5,425 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    Wild and empty lands, mountains and ski resorts, and hunters searching for moose are what you'll find out here. The Norwegian border is really close and while there's a fair bit of road riding across this area, the dirt roads and mountain views make up for it. Rörbäcksnäs is a pretty little town with

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    13:13
    130 mi
    9.8 mph
    6,350 ft
    7,425 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The last stretch of high country is crossed on Stage 12 before dropping down into an almost lush valley with a huge river, the Klaräven, and proper farmland for the first time on this route.

    

    You are out almost out of the rain shadow of the Swedish Norwegian border mountains, so the humidity is higher

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    16:32
    195 mi
    11.8 mph
    8,425 ft
    8,800 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The last stretches of true wildness seem to end around here, but you'll be surprised how wild the higher areas are as you get closer to the first big city of the route.

    

    Plenty of open farmland and a relatively high population nearby mean that this area is more difficult to find go quality tracks that

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    12:54
    119 mi
    9.2 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,050 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Denmark is quite the contrast from Sweden, more in its landscape than its people and culture.

    

    Gone are the endless forests and their dirt roads: instead you're straight into a patchwork of forest plantations and farmland abounded by the beautiful coastline of the North Sea.

    

    It's wild and windswept, so

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    15:01
    162 mi
    10.8 mph
    3,950 ft
    3,925 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Starting off on a disused railway line converted to a cycle track, this is easy riding (as long as the wind isn't in your face) to the city of Viborg, with all the services you would expect from somewhere in Western Europe.

    

    Then it's onto a series of tracks and trails, quiet lanes and roads. Be aware

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    13:10
    128 mi
    9.7 mph
    2,950 ft
    3,000 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    This last section of Hærvejen certainly has more paved sections than the previous parts, but that's just part of the countryside as you get closer to Germany and the more populous areas of western Europe.

    

    There's still plenty to see though, so keep an eye out for stone circles, menhirs, stone ships and

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    14:06
    123 mi
    8.7 mph
    2,850 ft
    2,750 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    In parts the route follows St Jakobs Way, which is a pilgrimage route starting in Trömso, Norway, that eventually joins up to the Camino de Santiago a Compostela. The Way is a great mixture of dirt roads, farm tracks, lanes and single-tracks, and while it's sometimes a bit patchy and 'start-stop' in

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    13:53
    119 mi
    8.6 mph
    7,300 ft
    6,375 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Into some hills more after the relatively flat lands of northern Germany, and it's pretty much up and down on the way to Cologne now.

    

    The spectacular rock formations of Bärenstein are ridden between, before crossing the army training area north of Paderborn. This might be closed due to army manoeuvres

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    13:44
    102 mi
    7.4 mph
    9,075 ft
    10,025 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Here the hills get a little steeper and longer, and there's more forest roads to enjoy.

    

    You're now crossing through Sauerland, with numerous reservoirs, forests and small towns. There's plenty of good riding: steep in places, but also fun and engaging.

    

    Finally you'll ride across the Rhine and into Cologne

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • Difficult
    15:10
    119 mi
    7.9 mph
    9,000 ft
    7,900 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Out of Cologne, you cross through farmland and patches of forest until the hills start again and you enter the edge of the Eifel National Park.

    

    This is a very pretty area with plenty of good tracks through the forests, with small towns and cities in between as you climb and descend across many river

    by Doubletrackfanatic

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  • More Tours & Highlights

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    37
  • Distance
    4,775 mi
  • Duration
    557:16 h
  • Elevation
    281,050 ft

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7,600 km across the continent — European Divide Trail

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